The success or failure of any transition to Cloud services is entirely dependent on the ICT organisation staff within your company or agency. That statement, coupled with the fact that Cloud services at a high-level is transformational change, means that the on-boarding of Cloud services is a complex change fraught with challenge.
I spend a lot of time talking to various ICT organisations from a senior level to the front line staff and I am often struck by the fact that for them, Cloud represents an unknown quantity and as such a threat to their way of working. Particularly if the ICT organisation does not have a service delivery life-cycle already in place. Unless staff are educated and supported, then the chances of getting them to support the move to Cloud services is going to be very difficult.
When presented with the idea of transitioning existing ICT services to Cloud services there are a number of warning signs that show that the ICT organisation is resisting.
These tend to manifest themselves as:
- Scepticism that the solution will do as the provider(s) says.
- Critical, unfounded, analysis of the service provider(s).
- Heightened, unqualified, risk identification.
- Other fear, uncertainty, and doubt statements (FUD).
- Re-prioritisation of the idea to a lower level with an assertion that there are “higher priorities.”
- Deferring decisions and contact to the next layer down in the management structure.
- Attempting to push the idea bringer down through a set of complex processes (E.g. SDLC) that slow the progress to a crawl.
- Evidence of “Groupthink.”
All of these symptoms can be treated individually, however an overall strategy to manage your ICT organisation through the process is going to produce better results as each of the symptoms can be argued in great detail with no resolution being reached. That overall staff strategy can be summarised as educating people on where you are going as an organisation and what that means of ICT, including the use of Cloud services. People will follow a strong leader, who is approachable, who is inclusive, who listens, and who has a zealot like focus on a public strategy and end state.
There are some things that you can put in place to ease the process, though there is no exact science or methodology:
- A sponsor
- A programme
- A communications plan
- A place to collect concerns
- A plan
Without a sponsor you will fail. It doesn’t matter whether you are transitioning a single, simple Cloud service, or multiple, large, complex services.
The sponsor needs to the champion at the highest level whatever Cloud service you are transitioning too. They need to be ultimately responsible for the success or failure of the uptake of that service and need to have the appropriate level of authority to do whatever is needed to succeed. They also need to be able to enunciate that change to Cloud services with the ICT organisation staff; clearly, succinctly, and carefully.
If you are transitioning multiple, large, or complex services to Cloud then you need to stand up a programme. Don’t scrimp and don’t assume you know what a Programme is. Buy a book, take a day off, and understand how these things work. I’ll cover it in a later blog in more detail, but in the meantime, have a look at Managing Successful Programmes. Within New Zealand it is recognised in government. Oh, and it just works.
It covers all the elements you need to run a successful programme from inception to closure. It also provides a transparent process that your staff can follow. There is no reason that your internal project reports, programme reports, status updates, and the host of other information you will create cannot be consumed and read by your staff with the exception perhaps being where it relates to employment.
A Communications Plan
This is worth creating once you’ve decided to pursue any kind of Cloud service.
There are a dozen templates floating around this however my recommendation would be to find a good communications advisor. You may have them if you are a large organisation, if you don’t, look outside. Ask to see communication plans they have written previously.
The primary issue with staff resistance around Cloud is lack of knowledge. Give them all the knowledge and at least then they can make an informed decision to resist change…
A place to collect concerns
Make sure that whatever you put in place includes the ability for staff to submit concerns. This can be anonymous, in a one-on-one setting, or as part of a group. It can be all. Regardless, you do need to know if there are real issues out there that need to be catered for.
- You are going to hit resistance. Be prepared for it.
- Your staff are your path to success.
- No sponsor and no plan equals failure.
- Be transparent.