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What to Do When Your DIY Cloud Migration Strategy is Tanking

Quite often a migration is a one-time proposition that mid-market companies think they can do alone. These types of projects repeatedly don’t go as originally planned. The following are some common characteristics of projects we have taken over when the internal team runs into trouble.Very few projects or migrations go as originally planned. In fact, this is common of all sorts of projects whether it's a planned military engagement, building a commercial building, or migrating from a legacy system to G Suite. Many project planners create a "Plan B" to take care of many of the unexpected changes in plans. Plan B was named after German Admiral Otto Von Bismarck. It was named in his honor because he would always create back-up plans in case the original plan didn’t turn out as expected.

Here are some of the most common reasons your migration plan might be tanking and a possible Plan B to consider:

Problem #1: The migration is taking too long

It's not unusual for problems to arise causing the deadline to slip. It might be: some unexpected problems came up such as a key player quitting, a technical issue in the conversion of the data, or several of the major players had to spend some time working on an emergency project that displaced yours.

So what can be done? In most projects, only one of the three main goals are the most important: 1) the deadline or 2) the budget or 3) the number of features implemented. It's important for you to identify which one is the most important. 

If the deadline is the most important, Plan B could be:

  • Hire some more help
  • Borrow from other projects that have a lower priority
  • Contract with an external company with experience with migrations
  • Cut back on the number of features or processes migrated by the deadline

Problem #2: The migration is missing some promised features

As mentioned in Problem #1, you must know which of the three areas is most important: budget, schedule or features.

If the number of implemented features is number one, Plan B could be:

  • Spend more money and bring on more helpers
  • Delay the project completion date and work past the original deadline.

Problem #3: The migration is projected to be over budget

If the budget is the number one priority, then you can stop the project early.

Before you get to that point, hopefully you will have reprioritized the features you can implement by the time the budget is exhausted.

Problem #4: The migration doesn’t work as promised

 This often happens because:

  • The new system’s capabilities weren't fully understood
  • Some unrealistic expectations weren't verified ahead of time
  • Someone thought it could be implemented one way only to discover later it doesn’t work that way.

Your Plan B options would include:

  • Keep the legacy system in place for that particular requirement
  • Determine if there is a solution in the G Suite marketplace to handle the needed process
  • Find another cloud solution to use for the particular process.

Problem #5: The migration plan didn’t include any user training

One of the common mistakes in migrating to G Suite is to assume the users can pick up the applications on their own, without the need for training. While G Suite apps are easy to use, learning how to best collaborate within G Suite is important.

Plan B would include:

  • Teach your users how to best work with G Suite with 1:1 training, video training, group training – but train!
  • Get agreement on simple things like naming conventions, file storage locations, and in-document chat. This will make it easier to work together and easier for all the users to find needed documents.
  • Show users how G Suite should handle each of the required processes.

Problem #6 Scope Creep

According to Wikipedia, "scope creep" (aka requirement creepfunction creep, or kitchen sink syndrome) in project management refers to changes, or continuous or uncontrolled growth in a project’s scope, at any point after the project begins.

The terrible side effects from scope creep can include: missed deadlines, cost overruns — even getting rid of some of the original features and having them replaced with different features.

Scope creep can best be managed (Plan B) by:

  • Getting agreement on a clearly defined Scope of Work.
  • Don't allow changes to the Scope of Work once the project begins.
  • Manage everyone’s expectations on the impact each scope creep will have to the budget, features, and schedule.
  • Get everyone to buy off on any proposed changes and their ramifications once implementation begins before making any changes.

Problem #7: Your Project Sponsor Leaves the Company

Most often the project sponsor is the person managing the most individuals who will be using the new system. This person helps with persuading the company on funding it and is the key person who sold it to upper management.

Don't assume the person showing up to replace that individual will have the same passion and influence when they come. Some new people want to make their mark and change things — including projects that are incomplete.

Plan B: Take the initiative and have a one-on-one meeting when the replacement shows up to go over the advantages to the company, their division, and the productivity enhancements to the users. Bringing them up to speed can often persuade them to continue the migration.

Problem 8: Users Lose Interest

If users don't see much progress or they are not kept informed as to what is going on, they can lose interest.

Plan B: Give them regular updates on what is going on and keep reselling them on the benefits of the new system. When certain milestones are met, and processes converted, remind them of the advantages that are now possible. In addition to managing the project, you need to be a cheerleader and manage user expectations.

Problem 9: Untrained Project Manager

Projects like these are often given to someone who is interested in the project, but has no project management training or experience. This can lead to a total train wreck. There is a science to project management. Gaining consensus, keeping all of the stakeholders informed, managing the progress and the schedule, managing scope creep, so it doesn't hurt the success of the project, etc.

Plan B: If you see this happening get their buy-in (this will take some good diplomacy on your part because they may not want to admit or realize they are lacking in this area) for some training or coaching by someone they respect who has successfully managed migration projects.

Problem 10: No monitoring and control of the project

Another issue is not monitoring the progress of the project and not controlling the costs, the schedule, and the features being implemented. While it seems simple to write about, it takes great skills to get a bunch of people to work in harmony on a project. To keep them on the same page, to maintain the schedule as the project progresses, to keep within the budget, etc. Since a migration project can have a great impact on the productivity, quality, and workflow for an organization, it needs to be well managed, or users and management can become disheartened and lose interest.

Plan B: Make sure the migration is being well-monitored and controlled by insisting on it from the beginning. You don't want to find out the day before the completion deadline that half of the tasks haven’t even been started! It is much easier to make mid-course corrections when you are current with the latest status of each part of your migration.

If you've hit a wall, or have even the smallest concern about your cloud migration, call us at (312) 448-7406 for a consultation to see if we can help your migration move forward and improve the quality of your transition. With hundreds of successful cloud migrations under our belts with companies such as Grubhub, MIT, Salesforce, we've tackled and solved some of the gnarliest challenges you can imagine. Just ask for details when you call!

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Originally published on September 26, 2017

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