The Secret To Managing Organizational Change During The Cloud Migration Process? Treating Employees Like Customers

Published On: January 9th, 20245 min read

Every organization mapping out a cloud migration strategy wants to facilitate a smooth, trouble-free ascent to the cloud infrastructure. But every cloud migration brings change, and change is not something most companies are adept at handling. If your organization’s roadmap fails to adopt a change management approach that treats employees like your only customer, your cloud migration process is almost sure to hit turbulence.

Think about it: When a company overhauls a user interface or customer-facing system, leadership often invests in market research, user interviews, training and evergreen resources that will smooth the buy-in process.

Cloud migration — the process of moving an organization’s data, applications, and workloads from on-premises infrastructure to a cloud environment — warrants the same sort of attention for employees.

Hidden Impacts of Cloud Migration

It’s easy for organizations to overlook the disruption that a cloud migration can make to employees’ normal workflow and daily activities. Familiar tasks — like accessing spreadsheets or loading software — often change when an organization migrates its systems to its desired cloud infrastructure. Entire roles can be transformed or even eliminated. And employees will want to resist change out of concerns about job security or fear of the unknown.

Cloud computing also causes major changes in technology architecture, procurement model, financial management, service model, and security management; an organization’s workforce and culture also need to adapt to the changes. Involved employees need to be trained by the cloud migration teams allowing them to understand cloud native features, cloud capabilities and how the cloud provider can help the entire organization. A “risk early and risk forward” culture needs to be fostered to embrace this paradigm shift. When not addressed properly, these concerns can lead to low morale within an organization, decreased productivity, and even talent loss. Employees’ buy-in and ability to adapt are paramount to a successful migration.

The Role of Organizational Change Management

This is where Organizational Change Management (OCM) steps in with a key principle that can make all the difference in a cloud migration project: thinking of employees as your only customers.

OCM is a structured approach to managing the human side of change. It involves understanding behavior changes critical to change adoption, addressing employee concerns, understanding an organization’s culture for change, and ensuring a smooth transition during change by enabling employee ownership and adoption of change in business operations.

OCM strategies typically focus on stakeholder analysis, change impacts and likely responses, organizational culture, facilitating communication, providing training, enabling employee-led adoption, ownership and support, mitigating resistance to change, and sustaining the change after training and the relevant “launch” activities. DMI approaches OCM through a lens of treating employee stakeholders as customers. Few other parts of the business do this. To boards of directors and shareholders, employees are resources to drive growth. Effective OCM engages employees as the organization’s only customers, a mindset that can have a profound impact on the success of OCM efforts while migrating to the cloud platform.

how to get cloud migration strategy adopted by employees

How to Treat Employees as Your Only Customer

When employees hear about transformation and the associated structural, process, and role changes facilitated by cloud migration, they will experience a range of emotions, including skepticism and resistance. And even the best messaging from major cloud providers — how jobs will become easier, how the business will become more profitable through optimized cloud setups— will fall on deaf ears. The word “change” can unlock fears and stress, especially within organizations with a history of handling change poorly.

Here are several founding principles upon which your organization can build a successful Organizational Change Management strategy:

Involve stakeholders in the planning process.

Employee communities that will be impacted by a cloud migration should feel they have a voice in shaping the approach and surfacing concerns of cloud adoption. DMI leverages both interview and workshop dynamics to explore cross-functional stakeholder insights and issues at all levels in the organization. Timing is critical: stakeholder engagement should happen early in the planning of the cloud migration strategy — and often — so that every effort can be made to refine the approach to stakeholder adoption of the cloud migration approach. Leadership should be involved in this stakeholder engagement as visible and vocal advocates and sponsors of change.

Communicate clearly about the benefits of cloud migration.

The holistic benefits of a good cloud migration strategy will benefit both the company as a whole and individual departments, functions, and employees. Effective messaging will involve multiple touches on multiple mediums — email, video, all-hands meetings, one-on-one sessions, and a Case for Changes.

An intentional sustainment phase should follow training to ensure behavior change is normalized at all levels of the organization.

One of the biggest myths with OCM during cloud migrations in the modern age is that training equals change management. Most change is internalized by stakeholders only after the new cloud-connected systems go live and they are able to build muscle memory for their new workflow. Training provides stakeholders with the knowledge and skills to change and be successful in the post-migration organization. Sustainment, led by employees enabled to own and support ongoing behavior change, needs to be present three to six months after cloud migration to establish the necessary “muscle memory” for new ways of working to ensure ROI is optimized.

Establish key performance indicators (KPIs) to measure the success of the OCM strategy.

To gauge the success of your employee-centric cloud services and OCM efforts, KPIs and critical behavior changes should be identified early in strategic planning, socialized and reinforced throughout the cloud migration timeline, and measured at intervals. These KPIs may include employee satisfaction, productivity, and the successful adoption of new tools and processes in the cloud environments. OCM is an ongoing process, and feedback from employees about the cloud provider should continually inform adjustments to OCM strategy and implementations.

have a successful cloud migration process in an OCM strategy

Prioritizing Employee Well-Being

When implementing cloud migration strategies, technology alone is not enough to ensure success — and neither is compelling messaging and training if it fails to view and support employees like true customers. By prioritizing employee stakeholder voices, needs, and experiences, your organization will be able to navigate the challenges of cloud migration with confidence and assured success.

Is your organization embarking on a cloud migration project? Have you designed an organization change management plan that will involve every stakeholder in the planning process for the cloud migration? Whether you’ll be using Google Cloud Platform, Amazon Web Services or other cloud platforms, our team of OCM experts would be delighted to speak with you. Connect with us today!