Technology transformations are often touted as the holy grail of business change and rejuvenation. This feeds into an expectation that the transformation project will change everything for the better overnight. And since it is a 'cloud' system, it will be like stealing candy from a child. Clearly, people have never really tried stealing candy from children – or they wouldn't find the raging tantrum that ensues 'easy'.
This article highlights some truths behind the myths when dealing with Cloud Transformations. As long as the organization's initial mindset is aligned and accepting of these truths, its journey towards cloud transformation would be much more rewarding.
Technology transformations aren't local
A fundamental mistake when embarking on technology transformations is to believe that all of an organization’s problems can be solved by upgrading to new technologies. But really, all that the new technology may do is give the old problems a facelift, and possibly give them super-powers that, at times, make the situation worse!
That's the fundamental difference between an ‘implementation’ and a 'transformation'.
A cloud transformation would require a clear vision for the future, and the willingness to change things across the board. It is all about the business, not the tool or technology used to support that business.
Avoid being like the man in the shencomix meme who takes a pill which instead of making him smart, makes him "stupid, faster"!
You will have growing pains
The connotation of 'growth' is understandably and appropriately hyper-positive. The downside to that is that we completely omit the thought of growing pains from our minds.
Growth is often a compromise where you gain a lot, but you may have to lose a little. It extracts a cost.
When moving through technology-enabled business change, organizations often get into a one-to-one comparison of features and limitations.
In my opinion, this is unhealthy as we often lose focus on the big picture. It is important to take a holistic view and remember that digital transformations are about net gains.
Remember old-timey cellular phones?
Unlike their new age "smart" successors, they only needed charging once in a magenta moon. Imagine if everyone got hung up on that one aspect of battery life and ignored all the other features that smartphones bring to our fingertips. We wouldn't need to charge much, but we wouldn’t have social media, maps, hi-rez games, or work emails at our fingertips.
(Okay, yeah, I see how I am actually arguing against smartphones by saying that – but you get the picture!)
Your UAT will fail (and that’s great!)
As part of the implementation of a new system (as part of the technology transformation process), User Acceptance Testing is often taken as the entry gate to going live. Because so much is riding on it, a lot of people pin their hopes on the “successful” closure of UAT.
What often happens is project teams deem a UAT with 0 defects as "successful". And if test cases fail, it results in heartache and angst all around. This, in my opinion, is backwards.
A "successful" UAT has the most failed test cases because that means you "caught" all the pesky bugs that could have disrupted your live system and business-as-usual. If we go in with a failure-accepting mindset, we would make the most out of UATs and have a successful go-live!
If things go wrong – don't beat yourself up. Murphy's law is ever unyielding. As they say, "The best-laid schemes o' Mice an' Men; Gang aft agley".
Addressing symptoms won’t cure the disease
It is crucial to be both introspective and honest about the problems that businesses are facing and what the reason for the transformation is.
Too often, both clients and consultants get bogged down with "pain areas" and individual items that "don't work as well as we'd like". What follows is a patchy changed state that shifts pain points instead of addressing the real business issues.
It is crucial to look beyond narrow areas of pain and take a business-first approach to craft solutions that have the underlying purpose, problem and pressures of the pain point at heart.
Solutions don’t work unless used
The best solutions (technical or otherwise) don’t solve a thing unless they are actually adopted.
It's like using a phone camera to take a picture of an iPad screen because you aren't quite sure of the screenshot functionality of the iPad!
One of the most glossed-over aspects of cloud transformation services is Change Management. This includes everything from planning, communication, engaging all stakeholders, gaining buy-in, training, etc. It also includes enlisting the support of change champions and transforming the perceptions and habits of people to accept and embrace the change.
Customizations are a time-bomb
One reason we call our implementation methodology ‘ADOPT’ is to emphasize the need to "Adopt rather than Adapt" a system in cloud transformations.
Making the system do something it is not built to do is akin to…well...reinventing the technology!
Decades of best practices and standardizations are washed off in a single second and you lose the ability to easily upgrade from one standard system to another. That is not to say that the system would be alien to the organization they are being implemented for.
Each technology has to be tailored as per business requirements, and business processes should be tweaked to leverage the technology. But they should stay within the confines of the standard system configurations. For instance, choose the colour and preferences of the car, but not the number and the shape of wheels.
It feels great to bend the system to the organization's will for a moment, but what you end up losing in terms of ease of maintenance and upgradation is a far greater cost!
Mindset matters the most
Change is hard. Resistance is real.
It takes patience, planning, and perseverance to impact meaningful change. People may plot onto the Kubler-Ross Change Curve. What makes the change worthwhile, though, is the value it brings and the impact it has in the long term.
We, at Mastek, believe in delivering measurable value, which means we mull over and monitor change and its impact day in and day out. Many path corrections may be needed, and some things may not deliver the desired results. But what matters ultimately is the bigger picture - the value it brings to the business, and to the people running it.
For any of this to be possible, change must be managed and wholeheartedly adopted. A stakeholder mindset is a critical success factor.
A healthy optimism and openness to discuss, debate and decide things during the cloud transformation journey, and not losing sight of the purpose of the transformation are two things that make or break a project. Ultimately, the right mindsets will determine the success or the failure of the metamorphosis of business.