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The author is a Forbes contributor. The opinions expressed are those of the writer.
By Brian Sullivan
Most companies have a strategy for adopting cloud services, but many still struggle with their migration because they haven’t set a clear roadmap. Every company would benefit from following these six cloud planning best practices.
1. Ensure that all stakeholders are onboard. Each cloud implementation should begin with discussions that involve everyone from C-suite executives to IT and line-of-business managers, software developers, and end users. Getting the executives involved early heads off objections later on, and it’s always helpful to explain to users why the organization has chosen to migrate to new systems.
The IT department, of course, should also play a big role, to ensure that critical operations are never disrupted during the migration. This is particularly true when integrating on-premises applications with private and public clouds.
2. Define processes up front. This includes your approach toward your core business processes or foundation. An established global solution template can be replicated quickly and predictably to cover business process flows along with technology solution approaches. Having this part of the roadmap laid out will save time and effort and will limit miscalculations when rolling out the cloud services to additional countries and/or subsidiaries.
3. Roll cloud services out in phases. Doing so will allow for business flexibility and agility by minimizing overall disruption as well as creating the effect of business technology transformation rather than just re-implementation. Move one area of the business over, confirm stability and effectiveness of the new technology, prove that the business and IT users have learned and absorbed the new application and support processes, and then make your next move to achieve success.
4. Coordinate the move across subsidiaries. The average multinational corporation has more than 187 subsidiaries, according to estimates from Oracle, making it imperative for them to move to the cloud in sync. Allowing subsidiaries to use separate cloud solutions can have devastating effects on the entire ecosystem. System integration is crucial to the success of any cloud migration.
Furthermore, leaving some subsidiaries behind others not only damages the overall business by complicating global infrastructure, but it also prevents those left behind from capitalizing on the increased agility and lower costs made possible by cloud services, while making them vulnerable to security gaps. Fortunately, implementing global systems that meet the widest range of business requirements is no longer an impossible task.
5. Align cloud purchases with business goals. Some lines of business may require cloud applications only to meet their operational needs at lower costs, while more innovation-focused departments may need on-demand compute, storage, and networking infrastructure to deliver cloud-native applications faster. Ultimately, however, all stakeholders must work together to achieve the same big-picture objectives.
6. Choose a committed technology partner. Every organization has unique needs, and an effective partner will be able to accommodate existing assets while meeting future technology requirements. Only global, experienced cloud providers can provide the best platforms, tools, and support.
Moreover, view the process less as a one-time transaction and more as a long-term partnership. Engage your vendor at every stage of your digital transformation, building a strong, productive relationship.
Moving to the cloud can appear daunting, especially when these changes impact critical processes. However, doing the up-front work, involving the right stakeholders, and being clear on the intended ROI will make the process a whole lot easier.
Brian Sullivan is a managing director at Accenture. He has more than 18 years of experience with large-scale, complex, global deployments of various Oracle ERP and EPM solutions supporting the financials and supply chain business process areas across a variety of industries and has helped more than 70 clients with their cloud migration initiatives.