Facing Down the Biggest Challenge in Cloud Transitions

In the cloud, every new update is supposed to repair a glitch or fix a common problem. But what if the biggest challenge isn’t technology, but something less tangible?

Culture is the first problem for every cloud move. When people resist training, cling to old processes or protest new policies, culture can single-handedly derail transitions.

“Either you do the transformation yourself, or you will be transformed,” Jonathan Alboum, Principal Digital Strategist for Federal Government at ServiceNow, said in a recent interview with GovLoop. ServiceNow partners with government to deliver digital workflows that unlock productivity by creating seamless IT, employee and customer experiences.

Culture is the one constant throughout all governmental departments. While some might have better technology or more accessible processes, all face the same challenges in winning over people’s hearts and minds. Alboum offered several practical and actionable steps for how agencies can solve the cultural dilemma.

1. Train and educate your leaders.

When agencies are considering the cloud, leaders must buy in to the overall direction. However, they may need help understanding what’s involved.

“Leadership needs to understand the art of the possible when it comes to the cloud, because they’re going to be the ones who ultimately lead the change,” Alboum said.

A step that agencies should take is to educate senior managers, who need to understand what the cloud really is and how it will impact the average worker. Next, agencies should learn from cloud providers that will engage with second-line managers to assess needs and readiness. With newfound knowledge, agencies can then begin targeted pilots.

2. Demonstrate the art of the possible.

Without careful planning, altering processes in preparation for cloud transitions might not be viewed as supportive by the workforce. It could actually leave the opposite impression.

Forcing employees to change rarely works. Instead, employees need to see what their new reality will look like, buy into the change and assume control themselves.

“It starts with sharing a vision with your employees, showing them how it works, and giving them a chance to feel and touch it,” Alboum said. The best way to do this is for agencies to embrace platform technologies to quickly deploy cloud solutions for high-value workflows, such as employee and contractor onboarding and offboarding, he said.

“Once the organization experiences the speed and ease of creating cloud-based digital workflows, magic happens,” Alboum said.

As employees interact with the new systems, they’re empowered to suggest policies and processes for the cloud. This in turn drives leaders to really understand how their data and work move through the agency.

Suddenly, employees are engaged in decision-making, and as they innovate, agencies don’t have to fear cultural tumult. The organization instead becomes more resilient as it undergoes a digital transformation.

3. Make the adjustment easy.

Of course, it’s not that simple. Agencies must consider cost and complexity when choosing cloud solutions, and the resulting inconsistency of multicloud environments can derail the envisioned end state. Usually, that’s unavoidable.

But agencies can still integrate the cloud experience as much as possible with several techniques. “Going to platforms, instead of stovepipe applications, will improve user experience,” Alboum said. He also recommended finding a solution, like ones that ServiceNow provides, to orchestrate security and functionality across these different cloud platforms.

With orchestration, employees can use one login and maintain the same primary interface, even across multiple clouds.

“Those things are force multipliers for these kinds of transitions,” Alboum said. An easier transition means better efficiency. By helping the workforce adjust, agencies are really helping themselves capitalize on cloud.

This article is an excerpt from GovLoop’s recent report, “5 Questions You’re Afraid to Ask About Cloud.” Download the full report here.


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