The Path To The Cloud
Migrating a business to the Cloud will be different for each business. Different line-of-business applications are specific to an industry, a business and future growth plans. The Cloud platform that a business will choose should not be a cookie cutter solution … instead it should be a business decision specifically tailored to a company … and more importantly, specifically tied to its goals!
But keep in mind that any path to the Cloud will involve both technological changes and might benefit from strategic changes in a company’s overall business processes. Even though the process will be specific for each cloud solution, the steps for migrating to the Cloud will basically look something like this:
- Step 1: Assess your current business processes
- Even though there are many advantages of Cloud Computing, you shouldn’t adjust the way you do business just so it works in The Cloud. You should take this migration to the Cloud as an opportunity to review and assess your current business practices, get your employees involved and discuss ways that the Cloud can bring you greater productivity, efficiency and cost savings.
- Step 2: Create valid and accurate data (Cleanse your data)
- You will gain the most of your migration to Cloud Computing if you take the time to “clean” your data. To ensure you have good data you must verify that it is complete, valid, consistent, uniform and unique. Cleansing your data can be an arduous process and in some instances it might make good business sense (and cents) to hire a third party expert to perform this “cleansing” before you migrate to the cloud.
- Step 3: Decide what information is vital to your business
- Take a look at the data and applications you normally use … along with the reports that you typically use to run your business. Are their reports that no one is using anymore? These can typically be eliminated. But do you need any additional information to manage your sales people, your manufacturing cycles or is there other information that could make your business more powerful now or in the future.
- Step 4: Transferring your data
- Moving your data from your on-premise system to the Cloud is one of the most challenging aspects of migrating to the Cloud. A well-devised and tested plan will most likely transfer your data and applications seamlessly to the new system. But, there is a chance that the migration might fail … and therefore it is vital to have a system in place to recover from a failed migration. If at all possible, this recovery should be tested prior to the actual migration.
- Many Cloud vendors make it easy for you to migrate data by offering “upfront” interfaces to help you easily and seamlessly move your data. Make sure you allow your company a generous amount of time to work on the data transfer process.
- Step 5: Testing the new system
- Is everything working as it should…are all applications talking to each other, is data flowing from one application to another as it should? It’s a good idea to test a small sample of data before you move all of it over to the New Cloud applications. That way if there are any failures you can easily fix them before the full migration begins.
- Step 6: Training employees
- As you well know this can be one of the biggest challenges in any change. Anytime you modify all or part of your business (whether internally or externally), employees will be affected and their response to the changes can make or break the deal. Many versions of Cloud applications are easier to learn and work with compared to on-premise versions, but learning new technology systems can be daunting and nerve-racking for employees.
- Like any new process you should create a training module that works in multiple stages. Stage One will introduce the new tool, and allow employees to play with it for a while, before it is totally integrated into your business. Be sure to schedule group and individual training before the migration and installation, so employees feel comfortable with the new systems.
- Step 7: Going Live
- Turning off the old applications and switching to the new Cloud Solution is a big day, and it will come with some nervousness on your part…and your IT department. But if you have followed the proper steps, the switch over should be seamless … now the fun begins!
- Step 8: Working out the hiccups
- Expect some glitches … no matter how much training and planning you do, there will always be a few problems that arise…small or large! Be prepared over the next few months to answer many questions from your employees or other users. Most of these issues will easily be remedied by your IT department or your Cloud vendor … but keep in mind, 90% of these problems will be “people-related”. Change can be hard for employees, some just won’t want to use the new system, they’ll squawk about how they liked it better before. But once all of your people accept the new systems, those questions and issues will disappear.
- Step 9: Making improvements
- After you and your team have had time to work through the glitches, your Cloud solution should be creating a positive buzz throughout your company. But that being said there is always room for improvement. To improve your employees’ buy-in to the new system, you should always be soliciting their feedback and ideas on how to improve the new applications. Create an open line of communication between you and your IT department if you have one, yourself and your managers, and especially your customers if the new Cloud applications affect them!
Your Cloud service provider now becomes a trusted advisor and partner, rather than a fix-it company that steps in when you have problems or emergencies. The Cloud offers you many different business applications that will help you grow your business … use your Cloud Provider as a source of new ideas and innovations!