6 Steps to Realizing Your Cloud Strategy

If you do not follow a proven “one-two” approach to manage staff engagement when introducing a new or changed strategy or process, then you can create resistance. Cloud requires significant changes to existing processes including project management, application development, and operations. Many IT leaders forget that every process requires an evaluation before, during, and after it transitions to operation. The evaluation must also include staff and management performance.

Often forgotten in cloud computing initiatives are the required human resource efforts: job descriptions, training, performance reviews, coaching, compensation, etc. Avoid the “usual” strategy and process introduction approach of giving your staff a quick review of the strategy and a copy of the process changes at a short meeting and then expecting success. Engaging the staff requires a top-down and bottom-up approach. There are six basic requirements for a successful process introduction spanning these two broad areas. The top-down activities include involving your staff in the development, deployment, and improvement of the new process. Bottom-up tasks include supervisory and incentive systems to enforce compliance. Engaging your staff — as you show firm commitment to the process — is one proven way to set the stage for business agility, innovation, and revenue growth.

What You Need to Know

Cloud computing requires changes to many of your existing processes. The process aims to standardize how people work. The benefits of a well-formed and managed process include improved productivity, lower costs, higher quality, less turnover, and better morale. An absent or poorly managed process increases variability, lowers quality, raises costs, and weakens morale and job satisfaction. A lack of staff acceptance of the process and deficient management are some of the top sources of IT project failures.

  • The process leads to quality by defining efficient and effective workflow. Success arises from consistently applying the process and actively improving it over time so that it remains relevant. Involving the staff in the development and deployment of the process speeds its adoption and improves its success and adherence.
  • If you fail to engage your staff in the development of the process, the result can be a process that the staff feels is impractical or unworkable. In the worst case, your staff may see the new process as a step backward — and they may be correct. Failing to use effective communications that both inform and solicit input coupled with proper supervisory control systems sets the stage for catastrophe.
  • Engaging your staff should be part of any cloud transformation strategy. Communication must be personal, business related, continual, and evolving. Sponsoring conversations and taking action based on those discussions lead to staff “buy-in.” Using an important or new service as the “big picture” for the change makes the process understandable and meaningful. Integrating your engagement strategy into your daily management activities makes your strategy sustainable and part of your everyday decision-making.

What You Need to Do

Before launching your new cloud strategy, analyze your current process planning. Does it work for you today? Does your staff follow your processes or routinely avoid them? Do you have defined job roles that reference you process adherence in place? Does your supervisory staff measure and manage based on the defined requirements? If you are like most, the answers to these questions are “not usually.”

Assume that currently process designers implement a process without communication to and conversations with the affected staff. Furthermore, assume that the current process definitions do not include supervisory or job-task measurements. Finally, take for granted that the managers do not include process adherence in regular employee performance reviews.

Investigate how your organization truly operates to ensure a new or changed process will deliver its intended value. Assess the presence of the following six basic requirements for process success. Skipping these requirements account for most process failures. These requirements are not in linear order and are cyclical in nature:

  1. Develop and Articulate a Vision: Use an important or new service as the context for a process change and what it will “look like” when fully done. Failure often arises because the intended process user does not understand the “big picture.”
  2. Plan and Provide Resources: Ensure that you and your management staff provide the groundwork and assets required for a successful process introduction.
  3. Invest in Training and Development: Avoid the common process introduction approach of 1) giving staff a copy of the process, 2) providing an hour or two of orientation, and 3) assuming the new process will achieve its design goals. Train the staff (and managers) in the tasks required of each.
  4. Assess or Monitor Progress: Design the uptake and adherence goals for the staff and management and include them in the process design. Monitor the performance relative to these goals. Missing this step is responsible for many failures.
  5. Provide Continuous Assistance: Based on your assessment (step 4) intervene with coaching, guidance, and support as needed. Success is much higher — and better received by staff — when assessment includes constructive assistance.
  6. Create a Context Conducive to Change: Connecting the process to business values sets the stage for shared understanding and a culture of shared accomplishment.

Start now by committing to these six steps for all process designs and changes. Begin with quick-win solutions that address major elements from the above list. Encourage a culture that is accountable, supports originality, and rewards involvement. Use tools to promote communication and learning, including informational seminars for your staff (including non-IT staff as appropriate). Show your commitment with assistance as well as linking the staff’s (and management) performance evaluations to your cloud transformation and process success metrics.

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