By Christopher Stark
President & CEO
Most of us remember Benjamin Franklin for his common-sense sayings and wisdom. And, when it comes to cloud implementations, Franklin offers insight that is spot-on: “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”
Preparation takes many forms when undertaking a transition to the cloud. It begins with vendor selection and extends to pre-implementation actions to “go live” and beyond.
Here are 12 tips for a smooth cloud implementation.
1. Thoroughly vet potential cloud providers, checking professional reviews and client references. Consider all the key factors your research reveals. Don’t let cost be the sole decision driver.
2. Remember that communication is essential to a successful migration.
- Designate an in-house point of contact (and a team, if the size of your organization warrants). Assigning someone to this role will facilitate information exchange. This person should act as the sole conduit of information to/from your cloud provider and to/from staff.
- Hold preliminary meetings with your cloud provider to gain a mutual understanding of expectations and deliverables and prepare a project plan. Thereafter, schedule migration calls at least weekly to ensure all aspects of the migration process are being addressed and all project deadlines are being met.
- Regularly brief employees on the overall effort and any specific issues that could affect work performance before, during or after migration. Beyond keeping everyone “in the loop,” information sharing helps build staff buy-in.
3. Make a complete list of all applications in use, including licensing information and update schedules. Survey the staff to assure the list is comprehensive. Note any customizations such as add-ins, linked applications and so forth.
4. List all user mailboxes, noting any customizations such as mailbox rights, mailbox forwarding, groups, etc. Make this information available to your cloud provider early in the process so an identical environment can be constructed, making the transition as seamless as possible.
5. Contact existing vendors (application, phone, etc.) to assure their product can function in a cloud environment. Identify vendors that may need to assist during the migration and ensure their availability during the selected migration timeframe.
6. Consider engaging a secondary (failover) ISP. As the cloud environment relies on a solid internet connection, you will not be able to access your files and applications if your primary connection goes down. Note: Cloud providers can configure two ISPs to automatically failover in the event that one connection is not functioning as expected.
7. Document all the hardware currently in use, including network scanners and printers. Associate each item with a specific staff member. This list will allow setup and testing prior to the actual migration and avoid staff frustration later.
8. Be proactive and clean up your data and user mailboxes before moving to the cloud. Advance effort will yield benefits in terms of better data organization, streamlined file structures, increased network speed and lower data storage costs.
9. Select a migration date that builds in some downtime and doesn’t interfere with day-to-day business operations. Keep important deadlines, conferences and busy periods in mind when picking the date.
10. Schedule mandatory staff training sessions prior to the actual go-live date. Review any new protocols that staff must follow once the migration occurs. Establish an environment where staff members feel comfortable asking any and all platform-related questions.
11. Assure there is ample time for staff to test everything in a non-production environment before going live. Testing should occur a few weeks prior to the actual migration date so there is sufficient time to address issues. Again, be mindful of peak periods and key events when selecting a time.
12. Have your cloud provider on-site on the go-live date(s) to assist all users in real time and respond to any questions they may have.