Prompting Change: Four Steps To Enable A Cloud Transformation In Your Business
Many organizations talk about "transitioning to the cloud," as if it's something that would be undertaken in its own right- but this is the wrong way of looking at it. Organizations should, instead, view this as a business transformation project, or an opportunity to transform.
To that end, the starting point for a move to the cloud is to understand what outcomes the company is looking to achieve. This thinking is fundamentally the same for any transformation program, but the difference with the cloud is that there are significant step changes and improvements to be made along the way.
Here are four simple steps that will help any business, big or small, get their cloud transformation on the right track:
Step 1: Focus on business outcomes and governance
It may seem obvious, but understanding what you are trying to achieve and who is accountable for the change is the foundation for any successful transformation, cloud-enabled or not. A business that embarks on a journey just for the sake of it will end up lost, which is why a clear understanding of your destination and the path that will get you there is crucial. It is equally important to have a clear mechanism for tracking and publicizing progress, so that both people in the business and stakeholders know when you've successfully passed a waypoint. It's also crucial that the right people in the business own the transformation process. You need someone with the skills, oversight and power to define transformation goals, make sure change is implemented, and switch directions when needed. A transformation program is intended to reshape the way an organization operates and the way employees work, so it takes the right senior person (or team) to oversee the successful evolution of these processes.
Step 2: Settle on an approach, then resource and organize accordingly
We've all heard horror stories of multiyear high-cost programs that never seem to deliver and are either cancelled, or even worse, leave organizations in a worse state than when they started. While it may again seem obvious, a clearly defined approach and well-structured governance are the keys to avoiding this. Cloud-enabled business transformations deliver significant benefits very early on when performed correctly, and establishing a standardized way of working with new applications out of the box (rather than relying on heavy customization) is the path to achieving those quick wins.
Step 3: Avoid transformation fatigue
There are typically two dimensions to a transformation project: the value for the business, and the value for employees and customers. The success of these programs is in the eye of the beholder (aka the user) so the best approach is to put value into their hands as soon as possible. There will inevitably be a transition state from legacy to cloud systems, and companies need to make sure the program starts delivering results before employees or the company reach their "business boredom threshold" (the maximum amount of time they will wait before demanding demonstrable benefits). For instance, if you think your work culture can only tolerate one year of uncertainty before seeing improvements, then your transformation plan should be structured or modularized to include "value providing" deliverables at least once per year.
Step 4: Create internal advocates to drive change
In the words of Oracle CFO Safra Catz: "As much as people say they love change, they love it when you change; not when you want them to change. Even when it comes to processes they don't like, they're afraid of change." A transformation project needs support to be successful. Any efforts to get buy-in start with the leadership team before trickling down through all layers of the business. That said, while big change programs are initiated by business leaders, cloud transformations are more flexible in nature and lend themselves to a twopronged approach. It's equally important to recruit respected managers and employees as they play a major role in building momentum for change. Similarly, transformation teams should empower cohorts throughout the business with early access to new capabilities, not just for thorough testing but also to create internal advocates that can promote change organically.