5 Best Tips for Transitioning to the Cloud

Organisations of all sizes and across nearly every sector are recognising the immense benefits of cloud-based systems in day-to-day operations.

Whether reducing the need for investment into costly IT infrastructure, streamlining data management and insight, or enhancing the scalability and dynamic adjustment of resources, upgrading operations to the cloud has become a key component of effective business transformation.

However, with so many benefits on offer, many organisations jump into a cloud transition without a proper assessment of the challenges involved. With a successful cloud transition requiring adequate planning and implementation strategies, we explore the best practices for success.

Ensuring buy-in

Without getting your key stakeholders on board from the outset and maintaining their engagement, defining and delivering your goals in transitioning to the cloud is going to be an uphill struggle.

It goes without saying that senior leadership buy-in is crucial, as without engagement from leaders, you are unlikely to generate much enthusiasm from the rest of the business, but it’s a mistake to assume these are the only people you need to get on board with the project.

Engagement across the entire organisation is necessary for a cloud transition to be successful long-term, and while this obviously includes those in technical roles more intimately involved with delivering the transition, it also means communicating your aims to the wider business and, crucially, the end-users.

Ultimately, those using new cloud systems in their day-to-day role will make or break the success of your transition, so it’s vital to get them on board early, consider their points of view and keep them engaged with the project if it is to be successful in the long run.

Getting clear on goals

Every business and organisation are different, working with unique challenges, objectives and circumstances. This means taking the time to identify your “why” when it comes to transitioning to the cloud. As with any large project, it is necessary to pinpoint the potential benefits to know what you want to achieve, and how you will define and measure your success.

This might be a rather straightforward reason such as simplifying cost by opting for a pay-as-you-go model and thereby avoiding large investments into IT infrastructure, or it could involve more complex reasoning such as achieving more flexible deployment of resources. Whatever it may be, identifying these drivers early on will help you to build a vision for the future and a roadmap for the transition. By spotting potential obstacles and challenges from the outset, they can be proactively mitigated rather than blind sighting you halfway through the project.

Developing a change management strategy

A transition to the cloud, while a complex technical undertaking, can only be successful in the long run if your people are brought on board throughout the journey. Gaining initial buy-in is the first step, but without a longer-term change management plan, you risk losing engagement and interest.

Many organisational change projects, such as a transition to the cloud, fail because there is no strategy in place for supporting and assisting the employees and teams at the very heart of the change. Leaving employees to cope with proposed changes alone, or addressing concerns and feedback too late, or not at all, can endanger the longevity and success of an entire cloud transition project.

A change management strategy helps combat these issues. From defining roles and ownership of cloud environments to proactively engaging employees in the transitional process, establishing a clear change management plan and open lines of communication with employees will mitigate the risks associated with organisational change.

Correctly timing training

Appropriate training for cloud systems is important across all areas of the organisation, not just your technical teams. Failing to build cloud literacy and skills is a missed opportunity, as doing so ensures employees can engage more effectively with cloud systems, delivering a better return on investment in the project. 

With the fight for talent in a competitive job market representing a severe challenge for many businesses, taking the time to identify existing staff skill sets and then considering how they can best be adapted to fit with cloud-based systems offers the dual benefit of developing better in-house capabilities, and increasing the adoption rates of new systems. 

However, it is also important to bear in mind that while effective training is crucial, the timing of training can have a huge impact on its efficacy. Leave it too late, and you run the risk of running into major problems around adoption while training too early means employees are likely to forget what was taught by the time the solution is implemented. It’s therefore advisable to plan training alongside your implementation timeline to ensure it is timed properly.

Safeguarding security and compliance

Cloud environments can be complex, and the possible security risks associated with a transition to the cloud need to be identified early in the process and mitigated. Without a proper analysis of these security and compliance risks, a transition can run into huge implications regarding data privacy and security further down the line.

Data is the most valuable asset a company has, so it is crucial organisations of all sizes are aware of and compliant with best practices to keep that asset safe. Trustworthy providers take these industry standards and regulations seriously, and it is paramount to gain a thorough understanding of your chosen provider’s security practices and data encryption protocols to safeguard sensitive information.

Final thoughts

With many organisations already poised to embrace the benefits of cloud systems, getting a head-start on proper planning and strategy is key to avoiding roadblocks in the middle of a project, and mitigating some of the common challenges of cloud transitioning.

Following best practices, from both a technological and people perspective, ensures not only a short-term return on investment but also long-term success.

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With a background in human resources, Wendy's passion lies in supporting people through digital change. Having taken a specialised interested in organisation development which recognises the need to place people and organisations at the very heart of everything we do, Wendy began a career successful career in change management.

Her wealth of experience, underpinned by positive ambitions for the improvement of the people experience and engagement characterises Wendy's approach to change management: if the people are supported, the organisation will truly benefit.

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