Why change management could be the missing piece in your move to the cloud

Most organisations implement new technologies because they want to integrate or automate particular operations. Without the right approach, costs can quickly get out of hand and the business may fail to realise the planned benefits of the technology. Research shows that IT projects often run over budget, or deliver fewer organisational benefits than first predicted.* An IT project many organisations are undertaking is the shift to the cloud, or deploying a hybrid IT infrastructure to support their growth and agility.

However, a staggering 95 per cent of private cloud implementations go wrong, according to Gartner.** This figure includes cloud implementations that were originally deemed to be successful but failed to actually help the organisation achieve significant business goals.

One of the key variables that impacts the return on investment (ROI) of an IT project like migrating to the cloud is the level of change management involved. The level of employee and managerial support for a program determines its success rate. McKinsey & Co. has identified that, where people are truly invested in change, it is 30 per cent more likely to occur, meaning better ROI for technology and training.***

When migrating to the cloud, businesses need to consider more than just technical specifications. A common mistake when estimating ROI is the assumption that there will be 100 per cent technology adoption when it goes live. This is rarely the case, as staff need to be trained in how to use the technology, and it can take time to transition existing software and operations to a new platform.

As organisations and individuals go through the adoption curve of the new technology, it is essential to accelerate and institutionalise that adoption, as well as processes and behaviours to sustain the change over time.

Businesses should reconsider their cloud approach, potentially slowing down to ensure the cloud strategy is appropriate and entrenched before moving workloads across. To achieve business transformation, it’s no longer about the technologies you use but how you apply them in the business. Change management plays an essential role in ensuring the journey from the old business state to the new is completed in the most optimal way with minimal disruption, and that the new status quo can then be sustained over time.

There are key three ways businesses can increase the likelihood of successful cloud implementation:

1. Scope upfront

Review the plans for the entire project upfront, considering immediate and future requirements. This helps avoids situations where a business moves faster than it’s ready to, causing overspend and, potentially, solutions that aren’t fit for purpose. With a future view in mind, it is easier to tackle the transformation bit by bit, project by project.

2. Make IT a revenue generator

IT can generate revenue and far better ROI if businesses use the right cloud strategy. Cloud can help businesses scale and innovate faster, freeing up intelligent people to move faster. Viewing cloud simply as a cost-cutting measure undermines its potential.

3. Keep a structure

For some organisations, moving to the cloud means wholesale change. However, it can be useful to maintain the same structure that supported legacy systems, simply moving it to the cloud.

Organisations should seek professional help when beginning their migration to the cloud. A strong IT partner can help to map out a strategic cloud approach that delivers business benefits and only moves as fast as the business can support. The right partner can offer a strong project management structure that incorporates proactive change management, taking into account both the commercial and technical requirements. This is likely to deliver a more successful project in terms of actually delivering strong business benefits.

* http://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/business-technology/our-insights/delivering-large-scale-it-projects-on-time-on-budget-and-on-value

** http://blogs.gartner.com/thomas_bittman/2015/02/05/why-are-95-of-private-clouds-failing/

*** http://www.mckinsey.com/global-themes/leadership/changing-change-management

Lyncoln De Mello, Director – Cloud Services, Brennan IT

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