Moving to the cloud is a big step for many companies, but one that is increasingly common. The number of London based businesses using the cloud is predicted to rise to 85 percent in the next two years.
Embracing the cloud in your business is one thing, but actually getting the most out of your investment is a project in itself. You have to consider so many things, most importantly how you get people using the new technology.
Three quarters of employees who use up to 5 cloud apps say they are happy at work, compared to less than a 5th of non-app users. For many, using the cloud boosts productivity, promotes efficiency and brings about a better work-life balance – so it’s definitely worth encouraging! On the other hand, software that doesn’t get used doesn’t add any value.
This guide will show you tips and best practice for efficient cloud onboarding, training and business-wide adoption.
Before the cloud
Even before you bring the cloud into your business, there’s a lot of groundwork. As with any significant IT project, you have to agree the why and the how before you can move forward with the actual implementation.
Identify the issues
Many companies are adopting the cloud but embracing it in your business simply because others are doing it is not advisable. Any change you make should only happen when there is a need for it – whether that need is gaining a competitive advantage or because what you currently have isn’t working well enough.
So analyse your current situation: Why are you choosing to adopt the cloud? What pain points are you trying to solve for yourself, your employees and the business as a whole?
One of the best ways to do this is by asking your employees what their struggles are with your current processes or technology. Try sending out a survey to get their thoughts and observations, and then use this data to build your business case. Understanding and addressing people’s problems from the start is a great way to get buy in for your solutions.
See with your own eyes
As well as relying on what your employees tell you about their current processes, try to get out there and see if it or yourself – or at least get someone to do this for you and report back. By work shadowing or recording video case studies you can get a unique insight into how people use the current technology.
With this information, you can identify areas that are slow or difficult and would therefore benefit from being updated. You will also see what features or processes people use most often, which will help shape the training you can provide further down the line.
From a technical standpoint, observing your employees and analysing their data usage will allow you to make important decisions with regards to the required mailbox size or storage capacity when you bring the cloud in.
Engage in change management
Some people love change. To them, it’s a new beginning and a chance to try a different way of working. For others, it’s more daunting. They’ve done the same thing in the same way for as long as they can remember and, while it may not be perfect, it at least works.
When you’re proposing something new within your business, it’s important to engage in change management early on. If left unaddressed, those who fear the change will struggle to accept it and won’t play a helpful part in bringing it about.
Some of the best ways to manage your employees’ reactions to change are:
- Let them ask questions. Having an open-door policy during a transition period is pivotal. Your employees have to feel like they can come to you (or any other member of management) with their questions and concerns.
- Keep them in the loop. Adopting the cloud is not going to be an overnight job. There will be a process of change and it’s important to keep your employees informed of the situation and timescale whenever possible.
- Be straight with them. Fear of the unknown is a significant issue during a big change. People might wonder if it will a ect their
pay or their day-to-day role, or even if it will put them out of a job entirely. Be upfront with your staff. If operations will continue as normal, tell them. Likewise, if you expect to make cutbacks, be honest. The information will inevitably come out and it’s better to have control of the situation from the start.
Find your stakeholders
Naturally, your IT department is going to be a major player in harnessing the cloud but they are not the only stakeholders in the company. Try to reach out to at least one person from each department and work with them to understand your overall goals and expectations.
If you’re able to engage someone from every department then you can make them an advocate for the change – and that can be a very valuable asset when you have to get the rest of your employees onboard.
Get support from the top
Three quarters of IT executives admit that a project is always or usually ‘doomed from the start’. When evaluating the reasons for a failed IT project, lack of senior management support is a common theme.
Support and evangelism for any big business project should start with the higher ups and tumble down through the ranks. These are the people who will have a signi cant sway on the overall success so getting them engaged early is key to a smooth implementation. If the CEO doesn’t use your software, it empowers all the other nay-sayers and luddites to resist.
After the cloud
Once you’ve identied your need for the cloud and how to garner support for it, you can progress with the implementation. Beyond the obvious technical work involved, which will likely be handled by your internal IT team or a third party provider, there is still work to be done with engaging the rest of your employees and training them up.
Start with formal training
There are likely to be new applications and programs for your staff to get used to. This is where your previous work shadowing will come in handy. If, for example, you notice that a lot of your employees use a local drive for storage, training in switching to your cloud alternative, like OneDrive, would probably be ideal.
After they’ve had some time to try the applications and get familiar with things, it might also be worth sending out another survey. This is one of the better ways to nd out whether people are nding a particular aspect di cult so you can provide any necessary training.
Walk your talk
After everybody has been through the appropriate training, the best way to encourage continuous use of the new software and to promote evangelism is to follow your own orders.
Make sure that you are using – and seen to be using – the software and applications yourself. After all, you can’t expect others to follow through if you’re not willing to do it first. Drink your own champagne and others will be happier joining the party.
Offer support channels
Even if you handled the change management perfectly before implementation and you got every employee on board, actually having the change become reality might knock a few back into uncertainty. Make sure that you open up support channels for people with questions or those who would like further training.
The go-to person doesn’t have to be you, but it has to be clear whom people should go to for support. This might be your IT team for technical questions or someone in HR for further training options. If you are working with a third party IT provider for your cloud transition, find out what they offer in terms of post- implementation support.
Finding success in the cloud
Adopting the cloud in your business can open up a lot of new doorways to success. As with any big change, it helps to have the rest of your team rallying behind you and ready to make the most of a good thing.
With their full support of cloud technology you can bring flexibility to your everyday practices, improve all-round productivity and give your business the competitive edge to take the market by storm.