In the media

Moving to the cloud requires radical change

By Anne-Katrine Engholm Schmidt


14 April 2021

Read the article in Computerworld here.

Many people think that switching to the cloud is quite simple. But the change is a radical one. This is because it affects all employees and  the needs of both the business and IT must be taken into account and workflows must be changed. Here are three suggestions on how to manage that change effectively.

More and more Danish companies are currently looking to move their application portfolio onto newer systems in a public cloud platform.

We see this in our everyday work helping larger Danish companies with IT transformations and with the change journey that both the organisation and the employees need to take when they move to the cloud.

And while it may sound like a simple thing to do, time and time again we find that it’s a truly radical  change  because it affects all employees and because the business, IT and the programme all need to be taken into account.

At the same time as the workflows are being changed, the organisation has to establish a completely new mindset.

Here we set out our three actions in the areas that are critical to getting a good start with the cloud. These are far from just being about the technology.

1. Involve the business early and demystify the cloud

By involving the business early, you can demystify the cloud and ensure you get a commitment from the start.

Demystification and ownership of the transformation is created, for example, by employees from affected parts of the business participating in interactive sessions which can uncover their needs and concerns about implementation.

This will provide the programme with knowledge and insight into the needs and culture of the business, so that the rollout and change can be tailored to exactly what it needs.

A concrete method for defining the needs and wishes of the business is by setting KPIs, as well as behavioural goals (KBIs - Key Behavioural Indicators) that complement the KPIs. KBIs specify what the future culture or behaviour in the organisation should look like, and can be assessed, for example, through goals such as: "You must contact IT for the purchase of new cloud services".

2. Create ongoing value for the business

It is important to focus on the time it will take for the transformation to create value. It is a value that can be seen and felt by the organisation and its customers. Value can take many forms and can be, for example, a new function or a change in the way people work.

The most important thing is that the value is visible and can be measured, as it builds the confidence and momentum to drive the change forward. Ongoing demos where, for example, you show a new function and its relation to the KPIs and KBIs, can help to make the value more visible to the rest of the business, and provide a way for them to provide direct feedback on the solution. These demos can then help create a culture that promotes innovation and introduces a ‘fail fast, learn faster’ mentality.

Another effective tool for creating value is a roadmap for transformation. The roadmap helps the organisation define the value that is created and also where and when the transformation will deliver it. The roadmap is typically a timeline which highlights the start, the milestones and the end point. A very detailed timeline can also outline the major activities and dependencies.

The roadmap can also provide a richer picture, which gives a more visual representation of the transformation journey.

This can be done, for example, by inserting images and symbols based on the programme’s milestones and activities.

The strength of this approach is that it shows all the key elements of the transformation in a manageable way that is suitable for a wide audience across the organisation.

3. Focus on maintaining a healthy and motivating work environment

In a complex cloud transformation, coordination across the programme and between the various projects and disciplines is crucial to achieving the programme's objectives.

To ensure this happens, the Programme Management Office (PMO) must take the lead in supporting the overall objectives of the programme, facilitating coordination and creating transparency across the programme.

The PMO should also make it fun to work in the programme by celebrating both the big and small milestones and successes, which can raise the programme's team spirit and motivation towards achieving future tasks.

Another method of engaging the team is by holding an open house type event where the team can present the programme's progress and milestones to key stakeholders.

This allows the team's hard work to be recognised and can help strengthen the team's cohesion.

The whole programme team, as well as the 30-50 most important people from the business, should be represented at this kind of event.

This allows you, in an informal way, to ensure that all relevant employees and business representatives build a closer connection and have a network that they can draw on in their everyday work on the transformation.

For example, it is a good idea to put a large poster together with diagrams and pictures that allow for interaction between the presenter and the audience during the presentation.

If the business gets really involved, can see the value and follow progress, that will give you a good starting point for a successful implementation.

If the programme team is also on that journey and has a healthy and motivating work environment, then there is a pretty good chance that your IT transformation will actually be the success you want it to be.

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