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Preparing for a Cloud Transformation Engagement

In many industries transformation projects follow the home-repair model. The customer places an order, and the professionals come in and perform the service. The customer gets out of the way, lets the experts do the work and the end result is a beautifully finished basement for the customer to enjoy.

It operates differently on cloud engagements. To get the most out of their implementations, customers do better getting guidance from experts who’ve been there before. But they need to be active partners in the process. They need to do their own preparation and bring their expertise to the table to make sure they’re setting their journey to cloud governance off in the right direction. Here are five ways they can make this happen.

 

Provide Resources to Move the Project Along

More often than not, an assessment is required to establish a baseline of maturity and/or readiness, identify opportunities for improvement, or provide justification for a recommended set of activities or goals. While assessments can be as short as 1-2 weeks, or as in-depth as 8-12 weeks, there are things that a client partner can do to prepare their organization and remove impediments that could potentially cause project delays.

They range widely in size and scope – from determining the lead time necessary for planned and ad hoc interviews to establishing a reasonable calendar in advance of the engagement. Since they have access to all the key information, it’s important that the client partner prepare all artifacts for the discovery stage and ensure that consultants have the necessary privileges to access them.

Relevant artifacts can include everything from the preparation of a cloud strategy, vision and objectives to prior assessments and research to the cloud budget and allocations to functional groups across the organization.

Having these inputs in hand, a cloud delivery partner can accelerate work on the objectives laid out for the engagement. Waiting on items impedes progress, creating friction, putting sand in the gears. Like Tom Cruise’s character pleaded in “Jerry Maguire”: “Help me – help you!”

 

Set Expectations With Enterprise Stakeholders

Effective transformation and change management requires excellent communication that reaches the target audience – those who will be primarily impacted by the change, as producers or consumers. This includes various functional areas across the organization, and accommodates a collection of technical and non-technical roles and disciplines.

Building timely awareness of the active engagement with critical stakeholders is critical to a project’s collective success. Once this awareness has been established, setting realistic previews around the statement of work and overall engagement is crucial. Cloud adoption means many things to many people. Security, for instance, wants to secure the cloud estate and the applications that will migrate while app dev traditionally wants to move quickly to cloud and achieve cost savings and agility on behalf of their line of business partners. Projects’ executive sponsors should ensure that everyone is on the same page to facilitate one positive outcome for the overall program.

 

Obtain Internal Alignment

“While large transformational programs can fail for many reasons, executive alignment — or lack of it — is consistently cited as a major cause of failure.”

This comment, in a 2012 piece by consultant Michael S. Kenny and tech executive Steve Blunt, is truer than ever now for organizations casting their first footprints into the cloud. For a project to succeed, executives need to be aligned within and across the following four key functional areas of the enterprise:

Security (Architecture and Operations)

The vast majority of work in early cloud engagements is on security initiatives – ensuring the protection of all connectivity between ground and cloud, establishing a secure perimeter, and other aspects such as access management. Many organizations don’t have a dedicated cloud security team. So leaders with functional control over security assets can jump start projects by presenting a united front.

Enterprise Architecture

Leaders in this area typically want to control the way cloud will be designed, adopted and operated. They can push a project forward by ensuring that teams of all abilities can reuse services via repeatable implementation patterns and techniques. Once this has been achieved, the organization can focus on other objectives, such as agility, quality of service and innovation.

Infrastructure and DevOps/Cloud Operations

Most organizations carry a significant amount of technical debt in terms of infrastructure management and provisioning in a timely fashion. The pain this causes might just be the inspiration for change. DevOps leaders should step forward and act as champions – emboldened by the promise of a cloud model that promises unlimited and scalable infrastructure and cost reductions across the board.

Application Development

Application development teams want to move quickly to meet business demand. This often places this group in a position where it sprints ahead of other groups. Understanding this bias, app dev teams should synch with others to keep the enterprise in lock step.

 

Get Comfortable Being Uncomfortable

Cloud transformation projects can be scary. They require people that are affected by them to embrace significant amounts of change – and many are not ready for it. To understand what’s in store for them, participants should look at the seven typical stages people go through when faced with change – shock, denial, anger and blame, bargaining and self-blame, depression and confusion, acceptance, and problem solving.

Early engagement in the change process – ideally including involvement in the planning of the change – can minimize the extent of the change curve “dip” that stakeholders experience. If client representatives recognize that transformations can cause discomfort, they’ll see the benefits more quickly when the project starts making progress. As Navy SEALs say, “Get comfortable being uncomfortable.”

 

kubler-ross change curve.jpg

 

Bring the Village Together

“It takes a village to raise a child” is an African proverb that means that an entire community of people must interact with children for those children to experience and grow in a safe and healthy environment. The villagers look out for the children.

It can work the same way in a cloud project. It takes the insights, experiences and expertise of many functional areas and roles in order to achieve collective goals and mission. People have to lean in and help one another in a collaborative way that breaks down traditional functional boundaries that may have existed in the on-premises environment. Many stakeholders have a vested interest in the success of this type of endeavor. And the power of crowds often yield the best and most appropriate ideas.

Organizations should take advantage of the collection of skills that they have across the organization, as the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. A small number of individuals can serve as a force multiplier if they act as visionaries and orchestrate (with dedicated resources and volunteers) on the enterprise’s behalf.

 

Conclusion

Clearly, customers in a cloud transformation engagement have a role to play in the overall outcome. They can help the project get started and generate quick wins. They can also position the transformation for long-term success. Cloud engagements aren’t one-and-done projects. The earlier and more fully they embrace their role, the more successful the project will be.

Two is one. One is none.
About the Author

Cloud_Steve

Steven Fatigante is a Director of Delivery with over 27 years of experience delivering technology strategy and business solutions. Steven is a driven leader with a solid background in building information technology strategies that focus on digital transformation, security controls and compliance, flexible and extensible architectures, and reliability for both heavily-regulated and growth-oriented companies. He leverages entrepreneurial skills to accomplish desired outcomes by implementing business-focused best practices to achieve corporate goals in alignment with bottom-line impact. Steven has a knack for making strategic implementations and execution feel tactical and practical.