April 20, 2016 - What is the most important change we need to make when adopting cloud technology?

Cloud Blog PostIn my webinar and ebook, I talked about the new methodology we’re using at Apps Associates to foster successful cloud adoption. In this post, I want to delve deeper into a particular aspect of cloud adoption that is crucial for success: change management.

Why is change management so important?

Change management is vital because it directly relates to successful user adoption and that is the only way to excel with the cloud. When I talk to a client about implementing cloud applications I make them aware that we are not custom building a solution but instead adopting modern best practices that are built into the system. Specifically, I explain that customers will need to:

  • Adopt the application’s modern best practices which will reduce risk and increase user adoption
  • Rely on the vendor’s methods of doing things rather than modifying or customizing the application – this is known as personalization instead of customization
  • The client may need to reevaluate their processes

How to adopt the cloud

Plan for enough team member time before the project starts
This is critical. Everybody has a day job and the cloud migration project will take time out of everybody’s schedule. Many projects have two or three weeks of intensive testing demands.  I generally recommend our clients prepare for these periods. In one project, temps were used to cover the normal daily operations so that users could focus on testing without falling behind in their work. You need to be realistic up front about the amount of time you will need to allocate to your project and have these conversations early and often.

Focus on the benefits of the solution, not the solution itself
Generate excitement among the users about the benefits of using the solution and describe how it will improve their jobs. Tell them how it’s going to increase speed, accuracy, and automate tedious, manual tasks. With this approach, end users are able to see the solution itself doesn’t really matter if the benefits are there. You may still get people with the “This is the way we’ve always done it” attitude, but that is managed through good change management processes.

Be open to reviewing existing processes
You’ll have to decide if your existing business processes will need to be changed in order to get the maximum benefit from the solution.  I frequently lead discussions about business processes. Someone will speak up and say, “That isn’t how I do that today. I want to do it the same way.” But that isn’t always possible with a cloud environment because we are not customizing the environment, but adopting best practices. Again, return to change management to handle these situations and keep a focus on the benefits of the solution.

Empower the team to be part of the change management process
Empower those team members resistant to change. Empower them in the system. Help them to help you to make the required changes by bringing them into the discussions. It makes sure everyone has skin in the game. Above all, don’t allow resistance to impact the final solution.

Keep the team members engaged and in the system for the entire project
If you have a 12 week project then for at least 9 of those weeks, your team needs to spend half their time in the system to become comfortable using it. It’s essential for users to spend enough time in the system to reduce what I call “user panic” – this is a situation that is common in many projects where a user, right before go live, will want to halt the project because they are not comfortable with the solution. This is why change management is so important because you’re making people confident, comfortable, and ready to use the system. You know they will be successful when they discover problems on their own, and are able to solve those problems themselves, without your intervention.

Cloud applications have changed the way we execute implementation projects. The focus is less about the solution and more about change management and user adoption. You will spend 75% of your time working with users to adopt the new solution and modern best practices (testing, training, troubleshooting) and the remainder of the time will be spent on the actual configuration. A successful project with strong change management reduces issues during go live.

If you’re interested in learning more, watch my presentation on this topic on Apps Associates’ YouTube channel.

Greg Bouchillon is the Oracle Cloud Practice Director at Apps Associates LLC.

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