7 Steps to Prepare for Your Move to the Cloud
Making the move to the cloud is not always easy, but your transition will be smoother if you start with solid groundwork to avoid as many surprises as possible. Unplanned things can always happen, but here are some suggestions for making the process easier:
- Set expectations with management, users, and vendors about why you are making the transition and what you intend to accomplish. These overall goals will help down the road as decisions are made and will keep everyone focused on the same priorities.
- Check the contract expiration dates on your existing services. You don’t want to have to pay termination penalties for removing services that you no longer need. These dates may be a factor in when your move to the cloud occurs.
- Spend time defining your requirements. There are two sides to this:
A move to the cloud can provide the ability to operate in new ways that are not possible with your current solution. If you only plan to move your existing functionality to the cloud, you could miss the opportunity to make effective changes that are enabled by the new technology. Your users can point out pain points and inefficiencies in your current situation which your new solution might remedy.
The cloud is different and you need to make sure you are not losing any critical functionality. Cloud solutions don’t always have the depth of features that were added on premise systems over the years, and you can’t assume that all the features you are currently utilizing are going to be available. For example, boss/secretary arrangements were lacking in a cloud solution that one of our clients considered. The head of the company had an administrative assistant who answered his line when he was out and checked his voice mail. The cloud system did not allow for an appearance of his line on her phone, and didn’t allow her to check his voice mail; the only way to check for messages was on the desktop client associated with his computer.
Defining requirements up front will help you determine which solution is right for your environment.
- Connectivity is everything. If you lose your connection to your cloud provider, you’ve lost your ability to communicate. Backup connections are a must; ensure that potential providers are able to route both incoming and outgoing calls over your backup connection(s). Find out what it will take to re-route your calls. Is it done automatically?
- What about your overall strategy for the change? Do you want to move everyone at once or do it incrementally? This is an area that can have significant complexity and capabilities between vendors can vary. Make sure that your solution provider can support your migration strategy.
- Don’t forget about support. What are your needs for response times and status information? Is there a web site to report problems or do you have to call? How much control will you have over the configuration of your users? Can you place an order for changes that are too complex to do yourself? Is there a support team that can assist you when you have questions about how to do something?
What are you looking for in a Service Level Agreement? Are there meaningful penalties for a failure to perform? How is a failure defined, and when does it start? Are there caps on penalties?
- Consider your training strategy. Are your users utilizing a desktop client today? If not, that can be a big change for them. How will you deliver training so that they can learn to use the new tools now available? What about collaboration tools? Will training via a webinar be sufficient or do your users need something more high-touch?
There is a lot to think about when making a transition to the cloud. Taking the time up front to consider these questions and the needs of your organization will save headaches and time later in the process.