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What is FinOps?

FinOps is an operational framework and cultural practice which maximizes the business value of cloud, enables timely data-driven decision making, and creates financial accountability through collaboration between engineering, finance, and business teams.

FinOps Foundation Technical Advisory Council
Updated: December 2023

At its core, FinOps is a cultural practice. It’s the way for teams to manage their cloud costs, where everyone takes ownership of their cloud usage supported by a central best-practices group. Cross-functional teams in Engineering, Finance, Product, etc work together to enable faster product delivery, while at the same time gaining more financial control and predictability.

FinOps is a portmanteau of “Finance” and “DevOps”, stressing the communications and collaboration between business and engineering teams.

Other names for the practice include “Cloud Financial Management”, “Cloud Financial Engineering” “Cloud Cost Management”, “Cloud Optimization”, or “Cloud Financial Optimization”.

It is sometimes incorrectly referred to “Cloud Financial Operations” but that term is falling out of favor due to its ambiguity with the more traditional “Financial Operations” role that exists in Finance.

FinOps Framework: Bringing Accountability to Cloud Spend

Regardless of the name, FinOps is the practice of bringing a financial accountability cultural change to the variable spend model of cloud, enabling distributed engineering and business teams to make trade-offs between speed, cost, and quality in their cloud architecture and investment decisions.

If it seems that FinOps is about saving money, then think again. FinOps is about getting the most value out of cloud to drive efficient growth.

Cloud spend can drive more revenue, signal customer base growth, enable more product and feature release velocity, or even help shut down a data center. FinOps is all about removing blockers; empowering engineering teams to deliver better features, apps, and migrations faster; and enabling a cross-functional conversation about where to invest and when. Sometimes a business will decide to tighten the belt; sometimes it’ll decide to invest more. But now teams know why they’re making those decisions.

Where to start learning FinOps

The FinOps Foundation offers a variety of ways to learn about the disciple depending on your level of maturity and time commitment:

FinOps Maturity Model

The practice of FinOps is inherently iterative and maturity of any given process, functional activity, Capability or Domain will improve with repetition. Typically a “Crawl” stage organization is highly reactive and focused on addressing problems after they occur, while a Run stage practice is proactively factoring cost into their architecture design choices and ongoing engineering processes.

A “Crawl, Walk, Run” maturity approach to performing FinOps enables organizations to start small, and grow in scale, scope and complexity as business value warrants maturing a functional activity. Taking quick action at a small scale and limited scope allows FinOps teams to assess the outcomes of their actions, and to gain insights into the value of taking further action in a larger, faster, or more granular way.

Learn more about FinOps Maturity on the FinOps Framework.

Core Stakeholders of Cloud Financial Management

While a central FinOps function may work to enable organizational change, FinOps is not done by a single person or team but rather changes the way that disparate engineering, finance, and business teams work together. Individuals at every level and in every area of an organization can have a different role to play in the FinOps practice: Executives, Engineers, FinOps Practitioners, Operations, Finance and Procurement.

Read more about FinOps Personas and Roles.

FinOps Principles

There are 6 FinOps Principles are north stars that guide the activities of our FinOps practice.