Step Three – Maximising Value From Your Cloud Migration
If ever there was a time for cloud to show its value, it is in the midst of a pandemic. While the first priority must, of course, be health, it has become clear that enabling people to work from anywhere, and to collaborate with customers, colleagues and patients is essential for economic survival. Still, could organisations be getting greater value from their cloud investments? The answer is yes, absolutely, and this forms the basis of an essential cloud migration phase.
Typically, when a business moves workloads to cloud, they start out using 30-50 percent of capacity. They then, in a well-executed cloud migration, embark on training, and bringing new team members up to speed. It is a very busy time, like any significant change, so it can be hard to step back and take a look at which applications are being used and how, and to question whether there is a better way to do each task.
In key tools like Office 365, new features are released every week. When you’re busy with the day-to-day, there may be little time to explore whether one of those additions may reduce workload for the finance team, or decrease task time in the warehouse. Usually with Office 365, a business might move emails to the cloud as a first stage, the second may be documents, or Teams for chat, but then the changes may stop there. In fact, we typically see organisations using just 20% of toolset capability.
The problem appears to lie in the way, as IT professionals, we are used to completing an initial brief, and then moving on to the next project. The new features may be awesome, but who has time to be looking at weekly releases, and checking which added features apply best? The answer is that you need an app champion – someone who is not overwhelmed by technology, who has an interest in improving business processes, and is comfortable working with external IT partners or vendors. Where there is someone willing to learn more about the app, filter the changes, and trial them, even attend vendor events, we have seen much greater value being squeezed out of many cloud tools. If you find your application champions, people who can act as your go-to expert within the organisation, you find your path to value.
The Coronavirus pandemic has demonstrated the strength of cloud technology, but it has also exposed some weaknesses. Faced with a huge workplace change, it is hardly surprising that some workers have adapted easily to using new technology, whereas others have found it more challenging. No matter how good the cloud tools, their value is limited unless users are equipped with the right skills. For all key productivity tools, Microsoft has released outstanding free training that is generally available in the app via a help button. The content includes reading and videos. Microsoft also has a full training website, both for users and for admins. In it, you can build a training course to suit your role. Most pieces of content are bite sized, and whether you want to learn the basics of Teams, or pro-tips on integrating calendars, you can learn a lot in these 2-5-minute sessions.
Another option is an external trainer. While options vary, the most popular choice of businesses we work with is one- to-many training, usually with groups of five to ten users, tailored to a specific audience. Because in this scenario we can provide on point training using their data, this small group approach reduces the number of hours involved, and prevents the productivity lost when sending employees away on courses. If it’s quick answers you’re seeking, our account managers are a treasure trove of knowledge and happy to share tips. They can arrange regular meetings where they give free training on some of the recently added features – not surprisingly, lately they have been doing a lot of remote sessions about and emailed advice about setting up work from home, and guiding users where to find training videos about Teams. Taking advantage of these free and low-cost options leaves more in the budget for other projects.
There is also an opportunity to make gains when bringing new staff onboard. In most organisations, basic onboarding is done by HR, and covers safety guidelines as well as workplace policies and procedures. In most cases, there is no formal induction around core business apps. The benefits of broadening that initial induction to include how to use the CRM system, and to protect against cyber-events are significant. What if you include training on IT systems? Understanding your platforms, learning important features, tips and shortcuts could make your new users more confident, and more productive.
Software Licence Cost Reduction
Part of this post-cloud-migration phase must include working out a way to keep across user licences. With cloud apps, it is all too easy to add another user – but then forget to remove them when that person leaves, or the app is no longer needed. One business we audited had 55 licences for a popular app… but they only had 20 staff! With a few minutes work, they were able to save more than $500 per month. Similarly, when Microsoft brought out new plans, many businesses qualified for a lower cost, but did not realise it. With a little help, some ended up with features that suited them better, at a lower price; one customer saved $15 per user, per month, which with 120 users added up to a very handy reduction in IT costs.
With Office 365 it is easy for us to check licences, and present to clients a report that shows where savings can be made. Typically, businesses have a number of cloud apps, such as Xero, Mailchimp, and Adobe, and when we work with them, we create an asset register that documents all licenses. This makes it very easy to keep track and avoid overspend, so we advise clients to use that platform as a register or to keep their own as part of their employee list. Recently, in particular, a lot of businesses had to acquire equipment and licences rapidly to support a shift to working from home, so establishing accurate records is worthwhile.