May 14, 2014

Making Your Cloud Migration Seamless

As many organizations are considering a migration to the cloud, one question that often comes up is, “How can I make the migration seamless?” I think that these tips will help you as your begin your cloud journey. These tips should apply whether you are migrating your email, your database, or your file sharing application.

Choose the right partner – Your technology decisions will dramatically impact your organization’s ability to successfully raise funds, serve your constituents, and meet your mission.  Engage with a partner who can help guide you through the process of evaluating the right platform for your organization, prioritizing your needs, and defining a clear implementation strategy.

Build a team – To a small nonprofit organization with limited resources, the term “project team” may sound intimidating. But it doesn’t take a huge team; you just need to cover the following key roles (and the same person can cover more than one role):

  • The executive sponsor lends his or her influence to the project by becoming its champion. Having that person’s full support and participation—from the planning stage until the go-live date and beyond—is absolutely critical.
  • Choose a cloud hero. Selecting the right project manager and administrator for your organization is vital because the administrator will play the most important role in making your cloud implementation successful.
  • To make sure that the migration meets the needs of your end users, it is essential to involve key users in the planning process.

Understand the cost of ownership – While your new cloud technology has a cost, it also is important to understand the hidden costs of maintaining the application and supporting it. Additional costs could include the following: training, user adoption, and staff time. When you plan your migration, make sure to take all these costs into consideration.

Figure out your data and processes before you make the move – If your business processes are in flux, the migration to a new application will reflect what the old processes were versus what they should be. Ask yourself these questions before you move to the application: do we have a clear business process?  What is the state of my current data?

Start Small – Don’t rush into a cloud solution. It is easy to get carried away in the midst of the excitement of building a new system. However, remember that complex projects should be broken down into manageable and measurable phases. Do a test migration or implement in phases but provide fast results. Don’t build a system that might not be relevant by the time you go live. Concentrate on getting the correct basic functionality and data, then proceed.

Have an exit strategy – People are often surprised when I mention that they should have an “exit strategy” before they even choose a system. Your organization’s mission is constantly changing and so should the technology that supports this mission. Make sure that your new cloud solution can grow with your needs; you should not be constrained by contracts or decisions made in the past. Make sure you have access to export your data at any point or that you are not limited to work with one developer.

Technology itself will not solve all your organization’s pain points. A well thought-out implementation of a strategic solution could, however, deliver a high business value in a complex environment. When a cloud implementation lacks clarity and depth, it could end up as a shelf-ware that is neither updated nor adopted by end users. Technology is just a tool to implement your strategy; it is not a silver bullet.

Your organization will drive a positive return on investment from the cloud implementation through a planned approach that is constantly evaluated. An assessment of the organization’s cloud strategy, staffing, processes, and technology will help you identify the relevant approach, resources, and tools to be put in place to champion a successful implementation. The value is achieving consistent processes, cross-departmental coordination, and even driving organizational innovation.

Have you recently gone through a migration? What are your tips for a seamless migration to the cloud?

Tal Frankfurt
While working as a spokesperson and director of resource development for a nonprofit organization (NPO) I was looking for tools to better manage my constituents (donors, volunteers, partners, the media etc…). I heard about the Salesforce Foundation and this started a snow ball effect… The rest, as they say, is history. I founded and led a Salesforce Nonprofit User Group and was exposed to the growing need for many NPOs to integrate technology tools such as Salesforce, Google Apps, and Social Networks to achieve their mission. Subsequently, I opened Cloud for Good, a consulting firm that works exclusively with social change organizations and higher education institutions. We specialize in providing Information and Communication Technology (ICT) tools and most notably, we work with organizations to find strategic solutions based on cloud technology with focus on Constituent Relationship Management (CRM) and Performance Management.
Tags: Cloud