Moving to a Cloud-First Strategy
The benefits of cloud computing are driving many companies to adopt a cloud-first strategy. System migrations can be complex and intimidating, but with some preparation, your transition can be straightforward. Here’s how to start your cloud journey.
1. Determine the justification and benefits of the cloud for your business. The benefits of moving to the cloud may include increased security, outsourcing of value-adding system maintenance work, the ability to adopt innovation, access to real-time data and business intelligence and analytics, increased efficiency, better inventory control, and lower total cost of ownership.
2. Set sights on a clear vision. Set a clear vision of what you want to achieve from your move to the cloud. What application areas—email, human resource programs, enterprise resource planning, supply chain management, and others do you want to move? When, and in what order, do you want to move them?
3. Ensure the benefits align with your long-term business strategy. Major technology upgrades need to fit into and support your long-term business strategy. Ensure you understand the different cloud approaches. For example, learn the difference between the value of multi-tenant and public cloud over single-tenant and private cloud.
4. Create and send a request for proposal. If you have experience with software request for proposals (RFPs), you may want to write one in-house. If you are not comfortable doing this yourself, several companies specialize in this service.
5. Choose a cloud provider partner. There are many enterprise resource planning (ERP) and cloud providers to choose from. Some take a blanket approach, while others take an industry-specific approach. Companies such as Gartner, Nucleus Research, and Constellation Research provide unbiased rankings of software providers. No company utilizes only one software provider. It is critical to have an ERP that integrates with your other software to ensure you have one source of truth from a data perspective. Efficient use of artificial intelligence and machine learning requires access to all your relevant data.
6. Access potential risks. Any move to the cloud will involve risk. Is your organization prepared? Do you have the required staff and bandwidth to facilitate the necessary change management? Are there any compliance risks? Is adequate bandwidth available?
7. Devise a strategy for change management. A move to the cloud will affect everyone in the organization and how they work. It is vital not to underestimate how this move will affect your people and how they may react with resistance to it. You may want to handle the change management internally, or you may want to seek support from a third-party provider.
8. Get all teams on the same page. Your internal team, your ERP provider, and your implementation team should sync. Setting goals, expectations, and milestones will help smooth your organizaton’s migration to the cloud.
9. Communicate, communicate, and communicate! Keeping your team fully informed of the process—the why, who, where, when, and how the migration will occur—is essential. Establishing honest dialogue about the work that will be needed and acknowledging the stress and extra workload is necessary. Provide regular updates company-wide. Understanding what is happening will ease some of your team’s fears.
10. Use your new cloud technology to its full capability. Once you have moved to the cloud, periodically review your plan to ensure you achieve the vision. Your IT staff will have to learn how to unlock the potential of the cloud for your organization. Adopt a dynamic training system to teach your current and future staff how to best use the technology provided.