Transition to the cloud complicated? Certainly not.
Traveling to the moon, that's difficult.
Traditionally, IT transition projects have the image of being “always too expensive” and “never finished on time.” And when they are finally done, the result is not always as expected. Perhaps that is old thinking. Like a trip to the moon used to be a “giant leap for mankind” but is now discussed to be offered commercially, an IT transition is also no longer that complicated, since the cloud made its entrance. With proper preparation, this can be carried out cost-effectively and as scheduled. But just as with a launch to the moon, it’s not just about technology, people are at the controls: astronauts need to be prepared for a difficult task, put knowledge into practice and need to be able to absorb changes.
During a transition to the cloud extra attention must be paid to the IT employee. He or she will have to deal with new processes, a different way of working and, most likely, a change of tasks. For example, when IT is outsourced IT employees are often no longer at the controls themselves, but instead get the role of a director who links demand (from the business) with supply (IT services). This role shift can feel like you’ve suddenly moved to a different planet.
Mankind and change
IT projects that imply changes, such as a transition to the cloud, have an immediate impact on the core of an organisation and have an impact on employees. Many and complex changes in a relatively short period of time are difficult for “mankind”. According to McKinsey, mind-set changes and employee behaviour are most likely to succeed when management does four things:
- include employees in the “why” and convince them of the usefulness of the transition
- provide role models
- develop the required talents and skills
- reinforce the changes by rewarding desired behaviour
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As McKinsey points out, the reason for a transition must be clear to the employees involved. When one is convinced of the usefulness, one is more inclined to move with it. An IT transition process therefore always starts with a good understanding of why an organisation wants to move to the cloud. At Solvinity we achieve this with a workshop at the customer location where we summarise these drivers in six Cs:
- improved Continuity
- increase focus on the Core Business
- more Comfort, for example by no longer having to invest in IT knowledge
- improve Control over the IT environment
- better Change or innovation possibilities
- saving on Costs
Although all motivations will play a role to a greater or lesser extent, there are always 1 or 2 that stands out above all others. This differs per organisation. Getting these drives clear from the start helps to keep focus throughout the entire transition process. It also helps with explaining the intended purpose of the transition to employees to increase their involvement in a positive way.
When the goal of the transition is clear to everyone, the question is what exactly needs to be done. A transition requires close cooperation between all parties involved. When everyone starts the job with the right expectations, with all noses in the same direction, surprises are avoided as much as possible and the cooperation runs a lot smoother. To get this clear, we at Solvinity do a thorough inventory and validation (Due Diligence) of both the current and future environment. This is essential. We often detect out-dated inventories or wrong assumptions, but also additional wishes and requirements. If this emerges at a later stage they are more difficult to implement when a transition has already been initiated.
The combination of technology and work of people, requires a centipede at both parties: a communicative and structured IT project manager that supervises the entire process, knows how to set up a management organisation, allows the organisation to get used to a new way of working, and introduces new processes one step at a time. At Solvinity we have a specialised transition team with these all-rounders to tackle such projects. Their goal is to successfully complete transitions. This task is not exclusively technical in nature, but consists largely of creating support from the old organisation and helping to shape the new organisation.
The outsourcing party also needs versatile IT staff. After all, some tasks and roles disappear, others change and new ones appear. IT employees will have to participate in these changes if they continue to work at the organisation, or are taken over by the IT service provider. The outsourcing organisation benefits from keeping knowledge on board, to be able to guarantee business continuity and complete the project successfully within the time and budget in the midst of all the changes. How do you achieve this?
First of all: provide role models – as the McKinsey model indicates. After all, seeing is believing and leading by example is a proven concept. As an IT manager you need to lead the way and be visible to your employees, actively engage in activities and start the conversation at both informal and formal moments.
Paying attention to the development of talents and skills offers tools for dealing with changes and gives a future perspective in uncertain times. Make sure that all employees know what is expected from them and support them with this by investing in training and knowledge transfer, and making a development plan with your employees.
This brings us to the last point on management’s “to-do list” – making the changes part of formal mechanisms. Such as career interviews, but also think of reward structures, meetings, events, kick-offs and clear communication through the right channels.
In short, the crux of a successful transition is not only the technical preparation: guiding all those involved in the transition is just as important. Ultimately, it all comes down to human work. This is sometimes underestimated or overlooked. But if we can put people on the moon, a transition to the cloud should not be too complicated. With the right knowledge, experience and guidance you can ensure a smooth landing.
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