August 30th, 2018
In earlier posts, I wrote about the five things that any enterprise should do before embarking on a cloud migration project, and I offered tips for adopting agile practices when migrating to the cloud.
In today’s post, I’m going to talk about another aspect of cloud migration: best practices for the project overall.
Here are five best practices for keeping your cloud migration project on the right path.
1. Treat cloud migration as an enterprise-wide project
In any organization, IT will obviously lead cloud migration projects, but it’s best to treat cloud migrations as enterprise-wide efforts rather than simply as engineering projects.
The initiatives should involve developers, operations staff and business leaders at every stage. Don’t attempt to make this a siloed project, even if the bulk of the workload falls to IT.
The success of any cloud migration project depends on multiple teams working well together. Whatever engineers build, operations staff will deploy and business users will use. All these teams need to be involved from the beginning.
Taking this enterprise-wide approach goes back to the idea of accountability. On every cloud migration project I’ve worked on at Slalom, our team has focused on getting the client’s team members on board and integrated into the delivery team so we’re all working together as a single team. We’re all accountable for the project outcome, and we work together to migrate applications and improve business results for the organization overall.
2. Make building new delivery teams part of the project
Our second best practice builds on the first. Team-building is actually an end, not just a means. Make building a new delivery team one of the major goals of your project.
From the start, think of any cloud migration project as having at least two major goals. The first, of course, is migrating a specific application or business area from on-premise technology to cloud technology. This migration might involve simply porting an application to a new environment and then integrating the application with other applications and services to provide business continuity.
Or it might be something more complex, involving multiple cloud applications and integrations, along with data governance and re-designed workflows that bring efficiency and increased productivity to multiple departments. Simple or complex, migration always includes design and integration work.
The second goal is to help the organization develop a self-sustaining product engineering organization that can work productively with other teams across the enterprise — on this project and on future projects, too.
Every cloud migration project should either initiate or support the development of an effective software delivery team. If the project undermines the development of self-sustaining teams, then it’s time to re-think how the project is being organized and managed.
The best projects not only change code. They change the organization itself, making it more agile, cohesive and productive.
3. Emphasize the “why”
When managing any large, complex project, it’s easy to get lost in the weeds. Task lists, deadlines and milestones are all important, but three months into a difficult project, living just with task lists and milestones can be emotionally taxing.
Throughout the cloud migration project, remind people working on the project what the end goal is and why it matters. Also, remind them how this project contributes to the organization’s core values and strategic goals.
Does your organization value serving its customers? Delivering the best product in the market? Solving a pressing problem in your industry? Remind your team how the cloud migration project helps the organization address these foundational business goals.
As a recent Gallup study points out, the purpose of a project is especially important to Millennials, who now are now the largest generation in the workforce. The study notes, “Compensation is important and must be fair, but it’s no longer the driver. The emphasis for this generation has switched from paycheck to purpose — and so must your culture.”
For more information about inspiring your team with a clear purpose for cloud migration projects, please read our Slalom white paper, “Building a World-Changing Delivery Team.”
4. Teach team members without burdening them
Document as you go, but emphasize hands-on training rather than multi-hundred-page tomes of technical documentation.
Those thick tomes tend to waste time twice: they take forever to compile, and employees devote no time to reading them. In too many cases, they end up being simply “shelfware:” trophies to the complexity of the project, but ultimately not that useful.
It’s better to provide hands-on training as you go, and to provide short, easily digested instructions for specific tasks. You might consider slide decks or even recorded screen captures as part of documentation, too.
Of course, documentation for the project overall should include goals, steps, phases, etc. — the roadmap materials I discussed in my first post, “5 Things to Do Before any Cloud Migration Project.” That information provides useful context and background for the short, to-the-point documentation that you will create and deliver throughout the project and at the project’s end.
One advantage of a low-code, drag-and-drop integration tool like the Boomi integration platform as a service (iPaaS) is that it’s largely self-documenting.
You can look at an integration design on the screen and understand pretty quickly what the integration is doing: where it’s getting data, how the data is being transformed and where the data is going. Documentation becomes easier when you have a graphical interface, re-usable components and dashboards like those in the Boomi platform.
5. Stay engaged
You’ve migrated a key application to the cloud and integrated the application with other key components in your enterprise architecture. You’ve documented the team’s work, and you can explain to upper management how this migration projects fits into the organization’s overall cloud strategy and corporate goals.
Whatever happens, stay engaged. Don’t disband the teams you’ve put in place. Keep your new cross-departmental delivery teams intact, and keep evolving.
If your organization is healthy and growing, your enterprise architecture isn’t going to remain static. It’s going to continue evolving, involving new integrations, new data transformations and new workflow automation projects. Before long, you may find yourself modifying or extending the very application or service you’ve just migrated.
Integration isn’t an occasional activity. For any cloud-first enterprise, it’s an essential capability. Ultimately, integration is an ongoing project that helps the organization continue innovating to transform operations and deliver the best products and services possible.