Cloudification Top Tip #4

Planning and communication is key to a successful cloud migration.

cloud_58As with most projects, having a plan that you stick to, and keeping your business sponsors and users in the loop is key to its success.

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Early in the migration analysis phase, start to put together a project plan identifying the tasks to be performed and estimating the time required to complete them.  Place the tasks in a logical order and identify any dependencies that might exist.  If you have a team at your disposal, assign ownership of the various project tasks according to their competencies.  Document this (in a tool like Wrike or even MS Project if you have it), and continue to evolve this further as you learn more about the scale and complexity of the migration task you have undertaken.

Document and communicate realistic expectations.

..for the time and the number of visits that may be required to complete the different elements and milestones of the migration process.  In a lengthy (big/complex) migration project you may need to have regular stakeholder meetings to keep the business informed on your progress against the plan.  Give yourself some contingency for unexpected issues, about 10 to 15% should suffice if you are thorough in your identification of the necessary migration activities.  Don’t promise or commit to anything you’re not absolutely sure you can deliver in the timeframe.  Try to ensure that additional user/business requests (outside of scope of the migration project) are treated as change requests, and ensure the business understands their potential impact to your estimated migration project completion date.

As identified previously in this cloudification blog series (Top Tip #3), large data volumes, and the time they take to load into the cloud can easily add substantially your migration schedule, especially if you discover data issues that require you to start over.  Don’t underestimate the impact resolving data issues can have on your migration schedule, so set user expectations early in the process and continue to manage these through the project.  As recommended in the previous Top Tip, you should perform extensive and thorough iterative testing of this part of the migration process.  Putting aside some additional contingency for these possibly lengthyproject activities may be wise.

If you experience issues with the cloud technology itself, the vendors often provide high quality assistance, and if not, remember there is a wealth of help available to you on the internet and related user forums.

Have your users undertake some training on the new technology platform..

..as early as possible to coincide with their migration, this can be done in person one-to-one, online or in a classroom, will minimise the migration impact to the business and help ensure your users are back to business as usual in a timely fashion.

Try to develop a migration plan that minimises the impact to your users.

For instance, you may wish to perform the data migrations overnight, or at weekends, depending on the volume and complexity of your data.  You may wish to perform the device migrations (PC’s, Laptops and Mobile devices) during normal working hours so that you can consult with your users, and be able to introduce them to their new office tools and environment.  Alternatively, if budget will permit, you may wish to issue temporary replacement hardware with a standard software build installed (while extracting data, checking for viruses or software is being installed), allowing users to continue to perform at least some of their normal tasks.  The business will thank you for avoiding lengthy interruptions to their normal operations, and praise you for assisting users to get up to speed on the new environment quickly.

Communicate any issues you experience to your users/the business, concisely and at your earliest opportunity, preferably in writing.  This will help to focus your thoughts on the issues experienced and hopefully avoid ambiguity or misunderstandings.  Even if this proves unpopular at the time, sensible users and businesses will thank you for your frankness, and the early notification.

Plan for success.

Be thorough in your preparations and stick to the plan, document any variations from it, providing justifications for your decisions.  You may be asked to explain yourself later.

Have a wash-up, or lessons learnt exercise at the completion of the migration as this may provide you with valuable feedback and insight into how the business perceived your efforts and how you might improve in the future.

Keep your users in the loop during the migration by providing regular updates and consultations.  Put the effort into producing a realistic and as accurate as possible migration project plan, including user training and a little, built-in contingency for the unexpected.  Communicate this plan to your business sponsors and users as early in the process as possible and continue to manage those expectations regularly throughout the project.

For informal discussion on Cloud Migration in particular contact CloudCIO

Cloudification Top Tip #4
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