June 22 2022 08:37 AM

A phased approach is key to successful migration

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    Not so long ago, we used to anticipate Ty Pennington’s dramatic weekly reveal of a seemingly impossible renovation in an impressively short amount of time. The homeowners — and viewers — would be in awe of the transformation that happened in just weeks. That transformation is not unlike the one that businesses recently went through when the pandemic accelerated many teams’ cloud adoption.

    For industries that work with large amounts of content, extensive document management processes and systems can often be viewed as a barrier to cloud migration. And although it would be nice to have professionals show up at the office and take care of all the work, unfortunately, businesses and organizations don’t always have that luxury. Luckily there’s a way teams can take their content banks into the next digital generation.

    Now that we’re distancing ourselves from the immediate needs caused by unexpected remote work, IT teams can strategically approach their migration and lean on a phased approach for a smooth process. Cloud migration is a major undertaking and should be treated as such. The good news is that there are clear steps IT teams can take to lower the barrier to entry for cloud adoption. And utilizing a phased approach can prevent scope overload and an overwhelmed staff.

    Navigating the Move to the Cloud
    The first phase IT teams should consider is arguably the most important: strategic planning. During the planning stage, well-defined objectives and success metrics should be set. Consider business, functional and technical requirements and objectives, and make sure they all align.

    Devote the necessary time and resources the first time. Identify all the stakeholders that are involved or impacted and develop a responsibility assignment matrix (RACI) to ensure participation at the right levels.

    Smooth Migration
    Once the strategic planning phase has been completed and all parties are invested in the process, the inventory phase can begin. This analysis and audit of existing systems will require many resources and take a lot of time. Getting buy-in from stakeholders ahead of time will help with a smoother transition — it is not just an IT effort.

    Though the process can be lengthy and resource-dense, it does pose the opportunity to take inventory of existing systems and evaluate their effectiveness. The audit and analysis can give insights into what is needed based on how business operations have evolved over time. This inventory is likely to reveal some processes that are out-of-date or no longer useful. These should be phased out prior to migration or even left behind during the process. To lean into the analogy: “don’t move old or broken furniture into a new house.”

    Phasing the breakdown of systems — both horizontal like the email infrastructure and vertical such as a CRM — significantly helps this process. Each system has different requirements in terms of software updates and integrations and must be documented. Beyond the system maintenance, IT leaders will need to consider things like communicating this process to impacted users or key stakeholders, so they are notified about downtime or disruptive processes.

    Finalizing the Process
    Even when all the systems have been migrated to the cloud, there is a crucial final step to measuring success. Evaluation is one of the most important steps IT teams can take to ensure continued progress, ongoing stakeholder buy-in and consistent delivery.

    Perform a retrospective after the migration to ensure that all systems are working as expected, stakeholder expectations have been met, success criteria have been accomplished and the organization is maximizing their investment. Conducting this analysis will not only ensure that all stakeholders understand the benefits of the migration, but also validate the resources and time spent making the move.

    Opportunity Awaits
    By now, the operational benefits of cloud adoption are widely acknowledged. In addition to taking extensive or manual processes into the next generation, cloud adoption has its competitive advantages too. It can help companies distinguish themselves from their employees and prospects and provide an edge to satisfying existing customers. The growing workforce wants access to the best technology. A modern, cloud-based infrastructure — and demonstrating the company’s willingness to evolve — is attractive when weighing career choices.

    Failing to invest in comprehensive analysis to understand the scope of systems and not researching various options — or hoping there’s a one-stop solution — can create challenges for a successful transition. IT teams should ensure they are taking the appropriate measures to conduct a cost-benefit analysis, strategically plan and audit systems accordingly. This process can keep the transition on track and minimize disruption for users. And ultimately, it can create better visibility into existing tools and create a more consistent ongoing audit process to enhance productivity and overall business operations.
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