Breaking up log jams can be hazardous, requiring professionals with heavy equipment and even explosives.
Many enterprises all over the world are embarking on a cloud transformation journey, and risky logjams involving people and processes are starting to threaten to disrupt their forward progress. Every organization is different, but certain tactics break up logjams in almost all situations. I’ve described several strategies below that should provide helpful insights for your organization.
1. Find your hand raisers (some actively looking to learn)
Your greatest assets are the first movers and innovators on your teams. These people are the hardware staff who are willing to learn how to write code for the new cloud world. Alternatively, they’re the self-starters who are going to meetups after work to learn new skills. Or they may be the motivated employees who are getting certified in new cloud technologies. These team members are your change agents – so encourage and support them.
To support your hand raisers, create safe environments for them to try and fail within. Yes, failing is critical to the new cycle of cloud deployments as it is in all new technologies. Think about your infrastructure as code, and code has to be tested and retested to validate it works, which means people need space to practice failure. If your employees have never coded before, testing and failing is a critical part of this learning process.
2. Disrupt from within
After you find your hand raisers, organize your cloud team around them. Name a leader and create new roles within the group, which will not be the same roles you have now. Next, ring fence them – separate and protect them from being pulled away on other projects, while giving them the support and authority they need to push forward, break paradigms, and truly innovate. This transformation team will become the force needed to disrupt from within.
3. Promote a new mindset
Once you have your team established, now begins the process of educating and promoting a new mindset. The role of your central IT team must dramatically change – from a maintenance mindset to a service provider model. Services IT used to provide are now outsourced to cloud providers; and new roles need to be created within your organization. Once this is accomplished, your transformed IT team can start to provide common core services the business can consume. Instead of building and maintaining, IT becomes the expert facilitator, which is a role critical to the success of the business.
4. Get help from project-based pros
Clearing the cloud transformation logjams is difficult work and often takes a professional – someone trained to come in and help you navigate these choppy waters. An outsider with experience dealing with a variety of project-based cloud logjams can often see more clearly and offer invaluable advice to get things moving again.
A constantly changing economic landscape is forcing enterprises to move from professional service retainers to project-based consulting engagements. According to a 2017 study, companies are now 58% project based and are shifting away from retainer-based engagements for more value-add project-based consulting services. The shift to project-based engagements provides greater transparency and ROI justifications. These spot engagements are serious power for your teams.
5. Share the knowledge
The last tactic you can use to break up a cloud transformation logjam is to share the new cloud mindset and knowledge with the rest of the company. The cloud team must reach across the cubicles, hallways, and conference rooms to join forces with the development community. This type of collaboration is where the vision of DevOps meets real world implementation – two groups working hand-in-hand to solve a problem. IT operators must educate developers on how to maximize cloud resources, implement best practices, manage costs, and ensure reliability. And developers must share their knowledge on application architectures and how they are interlinked with the infrastructure. Both teams have to come together as a joint force (Dev+Ops) in a way that provides the highest service quality for the user.
Breaking the logjam – a real life example
I recently worked with a well-known insurance company whose cloud transformation journey was at a standstill, hung up by a huge logjam of legacy infrastructure and legacy thinking. The rumor mill had kicked into high gear – permeating the company with fear and resentment. The biggest problem was getting them to move forward. Once the company implemented the first two tactics, identifying hand raisers and creating a cloud transition team who were eager to move forward, the logjam was broken quickly.
I then coached the IT leader of the cloud program to build a solid communication plan for the rest of the team, quelling the rumor mill of distractions threatening the program’s failure. This IT leader continues to place people issues as his top priority, providing him with on-going success.
The right people will lead your cloud transformation
Breaking cloud transformation logjams requires you put the right people in the right roles – employees who know how to embrace a new way of thinking. Rest assured, you’ll still face disruptions along the way; but if you employ these tactics, your journey to the cloud should flow more smoothly.