The explosion in cloud computing is helping education providers get more bang for their buck, but how can you make sure your cloud project will sail, not sink?
Moving to the cloud can be painless (and liberating) for educators – when done the right way. But there have been well-publicised failures even at large providers that have cost millions. To avoid projects stalling, failing or not having the desired impact, providers should have a clear idea of what the journey will look like, and some of the challenges they’ll need to watch out for along the way.
1. Start with your strategy
Your cloud implementation should have a clear strategy. This should include your overall vision for cloud use over time, and the rationale for the individual project. Are you switching to a cloud-first approach and why? What parts of the busines will go first (or next) and how are they prioritised? What is the expected business (not just technology) outcome and what do you hope to achieve for students and employees? Your strategy will act as an important guide and touchstone for your project.
2. Form your project team
The size of your project team will depend on the size of your organisation and how many departments (or silos!) you need to navigate. What won’t change is your need for a pair (or many pairs) of trusted hands who are engaged in the project from the outset, have the necessary technical expertise, are able to drive projects forward across different stakeholder groups, and have the authority to work collaboratively with your technology provider partner to solve problems fast if they arise.
3. Choose a real partner
Choose a tech partner – not a tech vendor. Any cloud system implementation works best when you have a fully engaged technology ally on your side that knows the importance of discovering your unique needs and championing those throughout the project. Look for a partner that has the tech specs you’ve identified as priorities, as well as a strategic, accessible team, best practice software development methodologies, a clear future roadmap, and a desire to partner for the long-term.
4. Feel safe with security
Many providers contemplating a cloud system implementation raise security as a concern with data moving from the perceived safety of their own servers. Providers should ensure they understand the level of security being offered (for example, ReadyTech is independently certified to the global ISO 27001 Information Security Management Standard) and understand that technology providers are often able to invest in and maintain much higher levels of cybersecurity than individual businesses.
5. Prepare to be planning
Before moving any data to a cloud system you’ll need to be ready to make the leap. Preparation includes mapping your existing infrastructure and software ecosystem to identify the project scope, consolidation opportunities, dependencies and risks, understanding the data you hold (and the quality of that data), identifying integrations or development required, creating a project timeline (with agreed milestones), and building strong relationships between your own team and your tech partner.
6. Master your migration
Migration to the cloud can be extremely smooth when the planning, people and project processes are outlined ahead of time – but the unexpected can and still does happen. In fact, Deloitte research found 90% of organisations faced some sort of internal or external challenge when moving over to the cloud. Mastering migration by facing any surprise problems head-on with creative problem solving skills and team commitment will ensure that your project can easily round any surprise bends in the road.
7. Testing and training
Your cloud implementation will be rigorously tested before you switch it on. This will ensure you minimize any data and operational risks and gain confidence in the system before you expose it to the world. You will also need to ensure your team is trained to hit the ground running. Deloitte’s survey also found the biggest challenge faced in cloud projects was educating staff (and this has been the case with IT rollouts for some time). Robust training will help ensure you are ready on day one.
8. Arrive with GO LIVE?
GO LIVE is the moment every provider is waiting for (and with the data flowing and teams using the system successfully in the wild, it’s one you should celebrate). But this is not the end of the journey. You now need to focus on the ongoing value you are getting out of your cloud implementation, by ensuring you are using the system’s full capabilities, leaning on your tech partner for necessary support or training, and getting the full benefit of new product innovations as they are released.