Cloud-based services are being positioned as the holy grail of an efficient and effective organization. The path to adoption however can be daunting. Based on my experience, avoiding these five pitfalls will help to minimize delays (and headaches) and ensure that the adoption process goes as smoothly as possible.
“Back end integration is not a priority.”
Integration with existing IT platforms and back-end systems is critical to success. In the past, staging tables were used to manage updates of data and systems incrementally. We now know that real-time integration with web services that incorporates updates immediately is what makes cloud services invaluable. Additionally, initial implementation of the solution is much easier if you can use real-time data. The IT department can evaluate various solutions early on with an eye toward managing integration in real time.
End users expect a very tight integration, meaning that any change in one system should be reflected across all systems immediately. One example of this is in HR systems; if someone is promoted, her new title would appear everywhere, and having cloud integration is an important part of their tool set.
“We’ll worry about integration of future platforms later.”
Undoubtedly, your organization will leverage a variety of platforms for a variety of tasks. You may have one service for social enterprise applications, one for file sharing and collaboration and another for authentication, all being accessed via the cloud. But there’s always a chance that you will want to add more platforms or services in the future, and they will need to be integrated as well.
Included in this conversation should be the importance of a streamlined sign in. Using one cloud provider that spans multiple cloud-based applications means that employees only have to log in once. This can be a crucial factor in adoption. The bottom line is: think about integration across cloud services early on in the process so that you have flexibility later.
“That’s the provider’s job, right?”
Often because of the level of integration that’s required, a cloud provider will bundle professional services into its offering. Don’t assume however that the cloud provider will do all the work.
A good rule of thumb is that you can expect to spend one internal hour for every professional services hour allotted. Only your IT department will have answers to questions that are specific to your organization, and the provider will rely heavily on the IT group during the deployment.
The provider may have questions such as, “What directory service does the organization use for authentication? What other systems will be involved in the integration? What about future systems? How often does the organization make sweeping IT changes? Is there any upgrade of legacy systems that could impact the project in flight? What about integrating future mergers and acquisitions? What level of self service administration is expected?” In short, the provider needs to know about any and all upcoming changes to the environment.
“What do you mean they’re still not using it!?”
Don’t make the assumption that end users will adopt cloud-based services automatically. There has to be a concerted effort to cultivate a level of business alignment and buy in. You need to develop champions to help evangelize the services.
Training that is convenient and helpful is also vital. This is especially true in the case of social or collaborative systems where employees may perceive the service to be optional. One way to combat hesitation is to have automated user activation versus requiring employees to go through a registration process. Someone literally clicks on a link and they are automatically logged into the system.
Also it may help to provide multiple channels for accessing the solution such as from a mobile phone or tablet. As work forces are increasingly mobile, empowering employees to take their work with them is crucial.
“It’s an internal cloud, so it’s obviously secure.”
Internal clouds are not inherently secure. External clouds come with their own special security considerations as well. So when implementing any type of cloud service, appropriate due diligence is required.
This may include, for example, updating company policies to address expectations around accessing materials via the web. In the case of cloud-based file storage, compensating controls are necessary to identify which data is okay to upload. For example, an automated system that scans cloud storage to determine whether or not files meet the security requirements may be helpful. There is always a risk that an employee will accidentally upload a corrupted file or one that has restricted confidential information.
As with most IT projects, deploying cloud-based services is not simple and shouldn’t be taken lightly. However, if you’re aware of these five pitfalls, then you will be well on your way to a successful and sustainable rollout.