One of the first questions that comes up in early conversations about moving to cloud is this:
Can we do it seamlessly?
These questions usually follow: Can teams keep working the way they’re used to working? Will all of our apps migrate? Will the beloved icons in my calendar stay the same?
These are the kinds of questions we hear again and again.
But here’s the thing: If you want to get the most out of your migration, these are the wrong questions to ask. And if you’re thinking about migration as a 1:1 move, you’re missing out on a huge opportunity.
So says Robin Scanlon, Director of Professional Services at GLiNTECH, one of our partners with Cloud Specialisation and one of two Atlassian Platinum partners in Australia – and we must say, we agree.
As Scanlon explains, “The usual narrative around migration is that it’s a straightforward process of moving everything from one location (server) to another (cloud). The truth is that cloud is actually a different thing, and a migration isn’t a 1:1 move… and this is good news, because it represents an opportunity to fix what wasn’t working for you before.”
In most companies, work processes grow organically over time. Customizations are built as needed. Problems are solved in the quickest possible way when they arise. Fires pop up and our teams put them out.
And over time, things get messy.
Those customizations pile up. Things go unused, taking up unnecessary space, costing the business money, and sometimes even creating security risks. No one goes back in to optimize the quick fixes and ask if they’re the best long-term solution for the original problem.
And what you get in the end is this: systems full of clunky workarounds that hinder productivity and cost your business money.
As Scanlon says, “The question isn’t ‘Can you replicate server in cloud?’ It’s ‘Why on earth would you want to replicate all that baggage?’”
This brings us to the opportunity of migration. It’s a chance to pause and do the work now to figure out your ideal, most productive, and most collaborative ways of working. Once you figure that out, you can set up your cloud systems to support those ideal ways of working – whether they match with how you were doing things in server or not (because the truth is that sometimes they will and sometimes they won’t).
Once we stop thinking about migration as a 1:1 move, we can start seeing it for what it really is: a change-management project that requires change-management thinking.
This means less focus on the technical details and more focus on the human side of the migration challenge.
As Scanlon elaborates, “From a change-management perspective, it’s about painting an attractive target-state picture for people… It’s important to get the company excited about these new ways of working, to communicate clearly how it’ll improve employee lives. If you do this well, you should have people jumping at the chance to test cloud first.”
So, how do you get people on board? The first step is to make sure the right stakeholders are involved from the start. They need to understand the big picture. And you need their buy-in (and if this is something you’re having trouble with, our business case toolkit can help!).
Same story for leadership. They’ll need to drive the change and get the company on board for the new ways of working that come with it. When leadership is on board, any digital transformation initiative (including a cloud migration) is more likely to succeed.
Just ask McKinsey, whose research shows that when a management team establishes a clear change story, initiatives are three times more likely to be successful. When senior managers foster a sense of urgency, success rates nearly double. And when senior leaders encourage employees to experiment with new ideas, success rates rise by 1.7 times.
Unless you already have someone in-house with deep expertise in cloud, this is also a great time to think about engaging a partner like GLiNTECH to help you get teams excited and on board for your migration.
So, once you understand what cloud migration really looks like, how do you go about it? The answer, according to Scanlon, starts with identifying your ideal end state with questions like these:
Next, compare how you do things now to those ideal end states. It can be as simple as creating a two-column, side-by-side comparison.
Then, it’s time to figure out how to set yourself up for success in cloud by getting as close to those goals as possible.
As Scanlon explains, “Most companies do an app assessment and ask themselves, ‘Are the apps I use available in cloud?’ Instead, we want you to look at each app and ask, ‘Why are we using this in the first place?’ Just because it’s available in cloud doesn’t mean you need it there… The goal should be to understand what the app is solving or doing and then to think about if that thing needs solving or doing in cloud at all and – if the answer is yes – how to do it best with your new cloud features.”
In short, the more you figure out what you want to accomplish, the easier it’ll be to assess how to do that in cloud. It’s not about what you’re doing today. It’s about what you need to do tomorrow.
Just like Marie Kondo asks homeowners to hold each possession and ask whether it sparks joy, we’re asking you to take a look at each process and ask if it solves a problem or supports a goal.
According to Scanlon, training on cloud is another key to success. And research from McKinsey backs his point: Companies that offer leadership development programs focused on cross-functional teams are two times more likely to succeed in a digital transformation project. Similarly, companies that offer multi-session learning programs to develop employee knowledge increase their success rate by 1.6 times.
For many companies, training is an afterthought. For yours, it should be the first line of defense. Train early, train often, and tailor your training to the people who need it.
“There are three training tiers,” Scanlon says. “Leadership needs high-level training to understand what systems are capable of (so that they can make decisions about processes, workflows, and reporting). About 20 percent of your company (admins, etc.) need detailed training to understand exactly how systems work and what they are capable of. And the rest of the company needs basic training so that they can do their jobs, follow their particular workflows, and keep from getting blocked on their work.”
If you’re thinking that this sounds smart, but you’ve already committed to a timeline and dependencies, we hear you. This is something that comes up a lot in Scanlon’s work. What happens when you promised your boss that migration would be done in two weeks?
Scanlon’s answer: It’s better to hit the brakes now than later.
Just like you shouldn’t keep driving on a flat tire, you also shouldn’t rush through migration without fixing the proverbial flat tire that a long time on server has probably left you with.
GLiNTECH believes in this process so much that they developed a whole migration assessment package around it. And, at Atlassian, we’re all-in on cloud and all-in on opportunities for better collaboration and improved systems.
To quote Scanlon, “This evaluation process has been so effective, we urge anyone starting this journey to speak to an expert first and get it right – right from the start. There’s no reason to bring all that baggage with you just to hit an arbitrary deadline.”
Thinking about your own migration? GLiNTECH is here to help if you need an expert partner and here, at Atlassian, we’ve got some resources to help you get started at our Migration Center.