The importance of technology for business continuity has come to the fore like never before. With uncertainty reigning over the lockdown, many organisations are keenly going ahead with scheduled business-critical IT projects – all made possible by cloud technology.
Remote cloud project implementations are immensely successful and there’s little difference in the way they are typically executed. Here are, however, some top tips, insights and best practices:
• Clear communications
When working remotely, it’s imperative that communications between the technology supplier and customer are crystal clear during all stages of the project, but most crucially during the design stage. The related documents must be concise, easy to read and understand. It’s worth reviewing them using communications tools such as Teams too, so that there’s no ambiguity regarding the objectives, deliverables and design of the project.
• Organised data migration
In any software implementation project, be that on-premises or in the cloud, data migration can present the biggest challenge if the data in the organisation is unstructured and resides in multiple repositories such as emails, shared drives, SharePoint and so on. For this reason, the data migration phase is often the most painful and indeed, time and cost intensive, sometimes causing the length of the project to even double, despite best efforts. In a remote data migration scenario, the challenges could potentially get amplified depending on the state of the data environment.
A good approach would be to migrate the current data that is immediately required for business operation. For instance, firms deploying a new document management system remotely in the cloud, could first migrate case and matter files that are active. Simultaneously, efforts could be deployed to organise the rest of the data in line with the new content structure in the document management system. This will ensure that only the relevant and clean data is transferred to the new system, increasing its value to users and hence improving adoption rates.
• Enhanced security and threat management
Fortunately, cloud providers today have already adopted a multi-layered security, underpinned by Zero Trust – i.e. no one can be automatically trusted and any connection, regardless of whether it is from outside or inside the organisation’s perimeter must be verified and authenticated before access is granted to content. Alongside this, ‘designing in’ a ‘pessimistic’ approach to firms’ security policy from a user perspective will help further strengthen defences.
• Diligent user acceptance testing
User acceptance testing (UAT) is key for any project. Offering the test participants sufficient support and assistance as they test and record issues in the new system is essential to identifying and correcting problems before the solution goes live. Potentially, this is the most critical phase from an end user perspective – user feedback will determine whether or not the system design works for their day-to-day activity. This in turn is key to user adoption.
It’s worth highlighting that undertaking this process during lockdown, remotely and virtually is no different to standard practice. Most cloud implementations involve multiple office sites and technology suppliers don’t necessarily travel to every single location for UAT sessions. In fact, a remote UAT is a good opportunity for testing the solution in the real world, so to speak.
• Emphasis on change management and training
Business leaders must be fully engaged, communicating the reasons for change to employees, and perhaps even more so today when the workforce is dispersed. Defining the goals of the project, how it will benefit the employees, and how the implementation will unfold across the various stages of the deployment are all essential components of the communication. Again, a remote cloud implementation is no different to stand practice – the use of tactics such as email shots, online training guides, easy to understand infographics and videos are all tried and tested methods to support users in their adoption of a new solution. Virtual hands-on training or personalised 1-2-1 sessions via Teams can easily replace the physical sessions.
Cloud technology has demonstrated its viability – aside from enabling minimal disruption and ensuring business continuity, the cloud has demonstrated resilience and scalability on a worldwide level. Perhaps for the first time, stakeholders in firms who had traditionally been reticent to embrace the technology, today are among the flagbearers of cloud adoption. It is proving to be the only way of keeping business operation going.
For firms that want to implement IT projects but are concerned about cashflow (and rightly so), given the uncertainty surrounding COVID-19, lease finance options for technology and business purchases from reputed financiers are available. If this is an area you’d like to explore, we can connect you with one such organisation. We have no commercial arrangement with them, we are merely facilitating introductions as a goodwill gesture. If this is of interest, do get in touch via firstname.lastname@example.org.