In the first part of this series on a successful cloud migration we introduced the concept of the ‘guiding coalition’ as your best choice for leading the initiative. In the second blog post, we spoke about how to run a focused assessment for prioritizing the migration of applications to the cloud and for understanding how to boost required skill sets. In this article we look at how to communicate the migration to employees to garner internal support and secure engagement across the organization.
Change is coming
While the benefits of the cloud are clear to all, often there is resistance to the great changes that cloudification introduces to the day-to-day of employees.
Moving to the cloud requires a profound shift in mindset, culture, and behaviors. There are new technologies, processes, and procedures that need to be adopted. Employees who have been executing operational and business processes in specific and familiar ways for many years may not be keen to adapt to the new tools and working methods that bring a dramatic shift from the traditional way of doing things. To the contrary, the natural tendency is to keep things just the way they are – familiar and comfortable.
Change means disruption and in the eyes of employees that can be a threat, including a threat to a most fundamental concern – job security.
This is why it is critical to manage the change, first and foremost, with effective, empathetic, and convincing communications – about how this change is positive, healthy for the organization, and will make things much better, especially for those who embrace it with enthusiasm.
The importance of effective communication to the success of the migration cannot be understated. In fact, it constitutes a key component in the guiding coalition’s ability to reduce the risk that the cloud way of doing things will be rejected by employees.
The bottom line is that employees are the ones who drive the organization. If employees resist change, the migration is clearly at risk.
So, how do you plan and execute the communication to succeed?
Step 1: know thy audience
The first step in crafting a successful communications strategy is to understand each segment in your audience. It’s not one message, after all, that needs to be created. While the high-level answers to ‘why cloud’ may stay the same (e.g. business agility, operational efficiency, cost effectiveness, scalability, competitiveness, innovation, etc.), it is the ‘WIIFM’ (‘what’s in it for me’) that will need to be customized to each group of stakeholders.
What’s in it for the infrastructure folks vs. the app folks vs. the business folks will vary. Accordingly, it is critical to understand and articulate what is the specific resistance that may lie within each group in order to prepare your customized specific messages and response.
For example, when engaging with leadership and finance – the cost factor will likely take center stage. With IT, resistance may come from apprehension regarding the cloud being perceived as making some roles redundant or demanding cloud-native skills that current employees may lack. Finance may be out of sorts due to the need to adapt models from capex to opex. The business will likely begrudge the need to learn something new., and so on. Your analysis will be more granular as teams will all face individual challenges.
The best way to fully understand the needs and potential objections of each stakeholder is simply to sit down with them and ask them the right questions. Engaging directly and expressing an authentic interest in prioritizing your employees’ needs is the first step towards cooperation.
Customize & personalize the messages
Once the potential objections have been identified, a clear, simple, and evidence-driven case should be built for the migration, based on these new insights. As a rule of thumb, 80% of the case will be consistent across all audience types. The remaining 20% is what needs to be customized and personalized per group.
So, for the business, for example, you may want to emphasize how cloudification will help reduce the risk of downtime and non-compliance with regulations, as it improves application performance.
The IT operations folks may respond well to hearing how the change will reduce IT project backlogs, time-to-service, and IT maintenance work. And, presenting numbers that accurately quantify savings made possible by cloud computing as compared with the on-prem model, will likely resonate well with finance.
Create a sense of urgency
It is also important to create a sense of urgency for the migration. While cloud brings many demonstrable benefits to the table, today’s reality is that failing to adopt the cloud could be damaging for service providers in the medium-to-long term as the organization can simply be left behind.
Some obvious concerns that employees will appreciate include the higher risk of data loss and operational disruptions, data security and greater costs. Other risks include the inability to work effectively from remote locations (Covid-19 taught us all a timely lesson here), slow time to market, an inability to pivot and innovate and reduced competitiveness, among others, which can hinder the service provider’s business and operations.