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Stop your people being the biggest barriers to cloud adoption

Romy Hughes, director, Brightman

By Romy Hughes, director, Brightman

Public sector organisations are under constant pressure to save money. For many, this means outsourcing business services to the cloud, or moving to a shared service model. Such models not only reduce costs, but they also improve agility, resiliency and increase flexibility too. But managing the implementation of a new service is a critical time.

Migrating to the cloud is often the single biggest service transition an organisation will go through. Its implications are felt far-and-wide across the organisation, but its impact on people and culture is by far the hardest part of any successful transition. If you get this wrong, the entire project is at risk.

So many stakeholders…

A service transition to the cloud affects large customer and stakeholder groups. Roles and responsibilities will inevitably be affected; there could be changes within teams, teams could be divided, or different management practises and ways of working may be rolled out. As a result, staff may be reluctant to share business information and knowledge due to fear of losing their job, and in some cases, if the people are not properly managed, staff may choose to leave the organisation altogether. This will obviously hinder the knowledge transfer and the transition plan. The effect on retained staff cannot be underestimated; new skills and competencies will require training, education and coaching.

Staff may become demotivated and resistant to the new change due to many reasons, but most due to a lack of understanding. Clear and regular communication during a transition is therefore extremely important. Stakeholders need to be aware of the implications of the changes and what it means to them.

Fundamentally, the best way to manage people during a service transition is to align the organisation’s culture with the change, and engage individuals to bring them along with the delivery of the new solution. A service transition, much like any other large-scale technology implementations, is an organisational transformation at its heart. A service transition needs to be matched with a corresponding organisational change. Only once you’re aware of this can you plan the transition effectively.

Bring your people with you

As a service transition places great demands on staff, there is a high risk that staff will become resistant to the change and feel de-motivated. To overcome these barriers, it is important to prepare stakeholders and leadership and effectively manage the different stakeholder groups and develop a culture that buys into the transition and supports it. Stakeholder management should never be underestimated or overlooked. Service transition is complex and involves new ways of working. Unfortunately, there is a tendency to make assumptions about people’s behaviours without analysing the facts, so identifying who the stakeholders are, their interests and influences, how to engage with the project, what information will be communicated, how to manage feedback etc. is an absolute must. Likewise, communications during the transition must be effective; stakeholders need to understand the reasons for change and what it means to them. The cloud supplier must also understand the culture of the organisation it is serving; an effective working relationship between the organisation and the supplier is therefore essential.

Cultural transformation = Cloud success

A successful and well managed service transition requires the adoption of a complete business transformation plan which fully accounts for the organisational and cultural changes. It will establish a strong relationship between the organisation and its service provider(s) and provide clarity of accountability and areas of responsibility.

By following this approach, new business processes will be delivered more seamlessly with a much lower risk to live operations. What’s more, ongoing service levels will be achieved, and staff will be retained, reskilled and will fully adopt the new ways of working!

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