Over 45% of IT spending will shift from traditional solutions to cloud-based solutions by 2024, according to Gartner, making cloud computing “one of the most continually disruptive forces in IT markets since the early days of the digital age.” Organizations of all shapes and sizes are rapidly moving infrastructure and data to the cloud in fear of being left behind. The challenge is in how organizations successfully design and manage their cloud transformation at pace while creating lasting change.
Credera has recently completed a large-scale migration of a core government analytics service from a legacy on-premises architecture to a cloud-native platform within AWS. In carrying out the migration, our team provided a blend of cloud, data, and change management expertise.
In this blog post, we provide our seven practical lessons for successfully managing change during cloud transformation.
1. Create a Compelling Case for Change
The majority of crisis management advice online relates to public relations incidents with little to cover the all-encompassing, whole business model crisis that organizations are currently facing. Nonetheless, the overarching leadership principles remain the same: focus on accurate sense-making and decisive decision-making to effectively marshal resources to terminate the crisis.
The obvious benefits of migrating services to the cloud include cost reduction, improved customer experience, and greater data and analytics capabilities. However, it’s important to recognize that none of these benefits can be realized without establishing and communicating a compelling case for change. Without planning and clearly articulating the reasons for change, it is unlikely you will gain commitment across business stakeholders and your transformation won’t achieve its true value potential.
Our top three tips on how to create a compelling case for change include:
Set out a clear vision that describes how your business and the services you provide will operate more efficiently in the cloud, using storytelling and examples to help bring this to life.
Emphasize why your current solution no longer fulfills its purpose. Call out the consequences your organization could face if your current solution remained in place.
Define the business benefits across people, process, and data, illustrating the end-user benefits to help end users understand what they can get out of it.
2. Understand Your End User
One of the most important but often overlooked barriers to smooth cloud adoption is gaining a comprehensive and exhaustive understanding of your customer base. Though this may seem obvious, a lack of in-depth understanding can jeopardize the success of your transformation before it even gets off the ground. We recommend the following three tips to help you understand who your end users are:
Find out who they are, where they are based, and what they do. Knowing this information will help you create effective communication plans and successful user engagements, which are pivotal for a successful journey to the cloud.
Zero in on the end-user requirements. This is arguably the most important and challenging element of the change journey. Although a good baseline knowledge of your customers’ legacy journey can give a good grounding for their future requirement of a cloud capability, open and continued communication about their wants and needs for the future is the only sure-fire way of maximizing future value.
Define what their cloud-based future looks like; cloud-based technologies can be daunting to end users. Combat that feeling by having a better understanding of their current processes and knowing how their future processes and ways of working will need to change.
3. Map the User Journey
Once you’ve created a compelling case for change and you understand your end users, the next step is to map the user journey. This will help determine how you are going to communicate, inform, and engage your users throughout the journey to the cloud.
Our top three success factors for a well-mapped out user journey include:
Devise a high-level migration plan that focuses on the key stages of your user migration: onboarding, engagement, user acceptance testing, adoption, and go-live.
At each stage, define the communication activities and methods that will be used to educate and inform the user on why the change is happening and encourage them to adopt new ways of working.
Take the migration stages and communication activities to inform a high-level communication plan that details the key messages, methods, and audiences at each stage of the migration. By doing this, you will be able to identify what types of materials will be needed to help your users across each stage of the migration.
4. Create Cloud Champions
Within your user base and across your user journey, individuals will adopt the change at different paces.
A key part of your transformation will be identifying the early adopters and transforming them into advocates of the change or ‘cloud champions.’ Their role will be to support you in shaping the change by collating the feedback of their peers, helping you to identify blockers, and offering their support in promoting the change from within the business setting.
Our top three suggestions for creating cloud champions are:
Clearly articulate the role of the champion in helping to shape the change for their peers. Early adopters should also have a role in being able to see things first and share their ideas on how the user experience can be improved.
Consider how champions are recruited. We have seen a difference between when individuals nominate themselves for the role compared to when they have been nominated by peers. The degree of recognition and ownership often tends to be higher if peers have nominated their colleagues for the champion role.
Establish clear ways of working with the cloud champions. Create regular touchpoints, such as bi-weekly focus groups to meet with the change team or engineering team and discuss hot topics.
5. Craft Communication Channels and Generate Guidance
One of the most cited pieces of change management advice is to communicate, communicate, and communicate. Without continuous communication throughout your migration to the cloud, your business stakeholders and end users won’t have a thorough understanding of what’s happening, why it’s happening, and what it means for them.
Our top three action points to help you create effective communications include:
Set up centralized communication channels that will help users in raising incidents and getting support while using your solution. Aim for one single channel to enable your support teams to pick up and resolve issues in line with your service management service-level agreements.
Utilize your cloud champions to get feedback on how effective your communications are and understand what additional materials or guides would support users to understand how to use the new system—for example, top tip guides, fact sheets, and myth busters.
Using the top questions asked by users, provide updated FAQs throughout the migration to help combat the most commonly asked questions.
6. Try, Test, and Test Again
User acceptance testing (UAT) can often be seen through the technical lens of ‘just making sure it works.’ However, you can’t underestimate the importance of UAT for encouraging your end users to see the benefits of the cloud, try out their processes, and adopt new ways of working.
To form an effective UAT approach, we recommend:
Aligning the outcomes and objectives for user acceptance testing and forming a governance document that outlines the principles of user testing, how it will be conducted, how it will be measured, and what the sign-off process is.
Mobilizing a testing team consisting of a project manager, business change manager, business analysts, designated engineer, and product owner and creating channels to share UAT outputs with the testing team.
Setting up testing software to automatically collect test outputs. If this isn’t possible, go the manual route but be aware of how time intensive this will be.
Forming a plan for when your users will test and when user acceptance will be received. If you are managing a large user base, consider conducting a series of UAT with each user group and breaking the groups into phases to allow your testing team to manage the process end-to-end.
7. Assess Adoption and Evaluate Effectiveness
Sustaining change—cultural change in particular—requires ongoing effort past the point of the cloud transformation. Throughout all the steps above and beyond, successful change management will feature regular evaluation of how the adoption is taking place. Our top three recommendations for assessing your levels of adoption and evaluating effectiveness are:
Introduce measures to assess the level of adoption of the new platform. These could include number of users on the previous solution in comparison to the number of users migrated to your cloud solution, and a measure of the percentage increase in usage of the cloud solution.
Evaluate the effectiveness of your engagement activities and user interventions—for example, within feedback forms, focus groups, or workshops with cloud champions.
Create an ongoing, self-sustaining cycle of “review, assess, improve” within the organization. Successful change projects have created a cycle of reviewing and assessing metrics and user feedback and putting the suggested improvements into place before starting again.
In a Nutshell
As organizations of all shapes and sizes are rapidly moving to the cloud, success will hinge on whether or not people are brought along on the journey. Our seven lessons from our recent cloud transformation break down practical ways to do this, ensuring your most important assets are involved with and have the opportunity to shape the change.
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