A cloud migration needs broad support across teams and throughout the company, from executives to front-line employees and everyone in between. This is especially important during the execution phase, when operations are in flux and workflows may change daily.
Change of this magnitude is a culture shift for many companies. So, how can a CTO or head of IT foster that winning attitude throughout the company for a successful cloud migration? By securing buy-in across the board.
Why Broad Support Is Helpful
The CTO, CIO and IT managers are usually the main drivers of a cloud migration. They understand the various business cases that drive such a change: saving money, increasing productivity, reducing support calls, getting access to new products or features.
Executives and management understand the reasons for a migration because of their broader view of the company. They know how a change of this magnitude can lead to future growth, and positive outcomes for the company and better workflows for their teams.
But what about elsewhere in the company? A migration without input from the employees who will use those systems every day can bog down pretty quickly. Business goals or executive approvals do not matter as much to them. Those users must contend with disrupted workflows and new responsibilities.
"The secret to digital is analog,” says Gartner’s Tina Nunno. “By analog we mean people: People who are collaborative, agile, analytical, innovative and who have the ability and desire to exploit emerging technologies for better business outcomes."
Without all levels of a company pitching in, giving their insights, understanding their roles and learning how migration affects operational change, a cloud migration may stop dead in its tracks.
8 Tips for Securing Support for a Cloud Migration
Create a Migration Team
A cross-functional migration team can help with oversight of the migration process, from discovery and motivation mapping to tracking the various elements of the migration. Encouraging participation from every area of the company can ensure everyone sees that their concerns and interests are being represented.
Your migration roadmap can communicate a complex initiative to stakeholders, employees and anyone else impacted by the project. This map can be used to outline the phases of the migration, draw a direct line between workflows and outcomes, and identify how it affects stakeholders.
When the project is hidden behind meeting doors, it creates confusion, and people lose trust. "(People) need to be confident in where we stand, what our responsibilities are, and how we can work in relation to everyone else," writer Jory MacKay says.
Explain the Vision for Migrating
Everyone wants to know how the company's migration affects them. Explaining it to employees can be the first step in gaining their support. Outline what's changing and why, and show them where the company is today and where it will be tomorrow.
Align That Vision With the Motivations of Others
Understanding the motivations of each stakeholder can make it easier to get their buy-in. This tactic works especially well for people who see any change as being too risky.
“Openly addressing the risks will demonstrate that you don’t see the solution as a panacea, that you acknowledge and are prepared to work hard to avoid negative consequences, and that you value the perspective of your risk-focused peers,” consultant Steve Ronan says.
Define Metrics and Set Goals
With visions and motivations in alignment, you can begin to define what a successful migration would look like for all stakeholders. As an example, imagine a major, cross-departmental goal is to reduce the costs of IT infrastructure.
A useful metric, then, would be infrastructure cost savings. Track the progress of the migration against that metric, and report it. You could set an agreed-upon goal, too. If the migration, upon completion, saves the company 10 percent on infrastructure costs, that could be an outcome everyone would consider successful.
Demo the New Cloud Apps
If people are having a hard time supporting the migration, stage some demos. When people know what their workdays will look like after the migration, they'll be more likely to support it. They'll learn about the new cloud apps and how the features map to their work situations so they can internalize those benefits more easily.
Piloting the cloud apps in one area of the organization can also help prepare the rest of the organization for what's coming. The pilot can build the cloud app's credentials with the rest of the company, demonstrate how well it can work for everyone (especially those with low risk tolerances), and let employees learn enough before getting their hands on the app.
Communicate and Welcome Feedback Throughout the Migration
A roadmap can provide visibility but doesn't guarantee communication with executives, stakeholders, migration teams and employees. Furthermore, roadmaps can change as the migration progresses. That’s why communication needs to be dynamic and constant during the migration.
"It's important for employees to know their feedback and ideas are being acknowledged when voiced," facilities management consultant Elizabeth Dukes says. “But when it comes to large organizational changes, it can be challenging to collect and address feedback and questions from everyone.”
Incorporating a feedback mechanism can help the migration succeed even as the initiative evolves. Even if a particular change or answer isn't what people want to hear, people will be more trusting of the migration team when their concerns are met with honest responses.
Celebrate After the Migration
"Historically, IT as IT, we've not been great at marketing our successes," Gartner’s Sanil Solanki says.
Here is a moment to change that. Celebrate your successful migration. A post-mortem that only goes over basic feedback or the lessons learned isn't enough. Thank the migration team, stakeholders and all affected users for their participation. Acknowledging their contributions and commitment to the project.
That goodwill can have a lasting effect that makes it easier to undertake projects in the future when they require cultural or organizational shifts.
Appeals That Can Help Get People’s Visions Aligned
However you foster communication during a migration, it’s important to help everyone understand why the migration is taking place. Here are five ways to explain the benefits of a migration to someone who might still be on the fence.
Enjoy Cost Savings
This is the easy one if your legacy systems are expensive. Compare the cloud costs with your existing ones and show how much you'd save. Laishy Williams-Carlson, VP and CIO at Roper St. Francis Healthcare, has used this appeal to help her teams see how allocating "more specific costs of IT services (allowed) the operators to correlate return on investment for those who consume the services."
Get Better Security
Cybersecurity is a vital factor for any company today. Legacy systems are often vulnerable to threats because support, patches and upgrades have been sunset.
"The majority of cloud providers invest significantly in security, realizing that their business would be at risk without doing so," Gartner’s Meghan Rimol writes. From role-based access controls to fully encrypted traffic, cloud solutions offer higher levels of security than legacy systems tend to offer, adding another layer of security to existing security postures.
Today's employees want a better work-life balance and the ability to work from wherever is most convenient to them. Cloud-based applications make it easier to offer this and let employees work remotely from home, a coworking space or anywhere they have internet access.
Manage Increased Growth
Cloud solutions enable growth across the organization and for the company because they make it easier for employees to work with the technology they need. Plus, people can collaborate more easily across teams, departments and geographic locations.
Be More Green
With many companies looking to reduce their carbon footprints, a move to the cloud can make a big difference. Michael Shirer at IDC notes how cloud migrations can prevent the emission of more than 1 billion metric tons of CO2 in the next three years.
These tactics can help any IT executive or leader get support across the organization — whether it's by using business cases to align the migration benefits to business goals or helping employees see how the cloud can make their work easier. Delivering a cloud migration that's seen as innovative and successful will make it much easier for organizations to achieve buy-in on future initiatives.
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