Department leaders are now purchasing more and more cloud technology themselves. Our own staff expenses cloud service is used by 65% of NHS trusts and it is nearly always the payroll and finance team leading the change. 

These cloud pioneers have led the way and those that we speak to say the same things about the experience: IT is nervous about the implications cloud will have [in terms of their future role] and the board is apprehensive to support something, which is different, an unfamiliar cost model and takes data outside the ‘safe’ four walls of the office. 

[easy-tweet tweet=”#IT is nervous about the implications #cloud will have on its future” user=”Neil_everatt and @comparethecloud” usehashtags=”no”]

If you’re now making your first foray in cloud, you need to know it won’t be as simple as paying an invoice and sending out login details to your team; you will have to work to win support for your project.  Here are some tips that we’ve learned from working with hundreds of customers, both private and public, to make using cloud applications successful first time.

First of all, do your homework.

First of all, do your homework. Create a shortlist of possible suppliers, suitable in terms of the service they can provide, but also review them for matching cultures, values and attitudes – you can learn a lot of this from their websites.

Look them up on Companies House. How is the firm structured, one shareholder or ten? Is the company a well-established, mature business? Ask the question, how long have they been in business? More importantly, how long will they be in business? There can be no room for ‘fly by nights’. There are plenty of stories out there of suppliers going bust and giving customers just a few days to shift their data. The last thing you want is to have to return to the Board for more funds.   

Ask for references. Any established business will be able to present written references and or put you in touch with happy customers. 

[easy-tweet tweet=”Check the suppliers’ security credentials. Does the supplier have ISO/IEC 27001:2013 certification?” user=”neil_everatt” hashtags=”cloud”]

Check the suppliers’ security credentials. Does the supplier have ISO/IEC 27001:2013 certification? If you work in the NHS, is the supplier rated on the NHS’s Information Governance Toolkit, the internal security check used by NHS organisations? 

Visit their premises; we have often hosted NHS data security staff visits. In fact, definitely visit their premises; you don’t want to be buying a critical application from a garden shed business. Check their uptime stats’ too and find out where your data will be held.

Check your technology and infrastructure – can you get high-speed access to the cloud application from all sites and remote offices? Is the application designed in such a way that it is useable on low bandwidth networks?  Heavy, graphics rich cloud apps might look nice, but they aren’t always practical. What’s the supplier’s attitude to updates? If they’re going to make massive updates once every year, you might find the latest version doesn’t work on your network; smaller less intrusive updates are better.   

[easy-tweet tweet=”Heavy, graphics rich #cloudapps might look nice, but they aren’t always practical.” user=”neileveratt and @comparethecloud” hashtags=”cloud”]

Also don’t forget about the end-user experience. They’re important because they’re multiple voices and vocal. Is the cloud service easy to use? Does it need lots of training? Is there a supportive mobile app? How can users share feedback on the service? Is there a forum or voting system for new features? 

The bottom line is: do your research ready to present a thorough case to the board. You shouldn’t have to do this alone either. Ask the supplier to support you with the business case. They will work with lots of customers so they can create this document for you really easily [but obviously interrogate it].   

flick the switch and go for the big bang roll out.

My last point would be this, if you’ve made the decision to move to the cloud, done your homework, prepared properly, trained effectively and marketed the new service to internal users, then flick the switch and go for the big bang roll out. Unless you really have to, never run two systems – old and new – simultaneously! It doesn’t work; people don’t like change and you’ll find it difficult to role out a new system if the old one is still available.

Most of our customers are up and running in just a few weeks weeks and our customer churn is less 2 per cent year – that’s because they invest time up front to get their deployments right and we help them every step of the way. Do the same and you’ll find moving to the cloud a piece of cake! 

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Neil Everatt, CEO, relaxing rules and empowering people at Software Europe

Neil is not the sort of man to quibble over a dentist appointment or an extended tea break from his team; he’s relaxed on rules, but quick to empower and an ardent fan of driven, hungry people. He describes himself as motivational and fun, which is a pretty rare combination for the leader of an IT firm, and says if you get the right people they’ll deliver results because they want to, not because you dictate it. He gives his team the freedom and environment to do their jobs. 

The only guide he has for himself and his team is to keep focusing on customers and believing in their cloud services, describing himself as not a great entrepreneur, but someone who helps keep the company on the right tracks. Over 25-years in business, he has learned the right route by trusting research and making sure his company is building something people want – primarily through logic and numbers, not just a hunch and whim.

Neil has been with Software Europe on and off for nearly 25-years – sales, marketing and now CEO. He joined the firm when its greatest physical asset was a tin-shed office in Lincolnshire; he led an MBO in 2012 and now empowers an amazing team of people, a growing list of cloud services and hundreds of customers.