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Cloud Change Management 101

Moving to the cloud can be tough, whether you’re adopting collaboration and productivity tools such as Google Workspace (formerly G Suite) or migrating your company’s data to a new IT environment like Google Cloud Platform (GCP). Many aspects of these transformations can be tricky, but it often takes enterprise leaders by surprise that a large part of the challenge arises from team resistance. As we all know, employee dissatisfaction and a negative, defeated company culture starts a domino effect that often spills over into productivity, sales, and more. It’s a commonly cited statistic that roughly three-fourths of change management initiatives fail, which is far too many.

Here’s some great news, though: change management with the cloud in particular is slowly but steadily getting easier as cloud-based tools and apps infiltrate our lives starting at a young age. For example, much of the up-and-coming workforce graduating from college is already comfortable with G Suite, which is inherently a very user-friendly platform to boot. 

But the best news of all is that, when done correctly, cloud transformations are more than worth it. Keep reading for a quick guide to cloud change management. 

What is change management?

Change management is a culture change, and its success hinges on leaders. To be more specific, Maven Wave defines change management as a holistic program designed to give people the tools they need to be successful amidst a change in people, process or technology in the workplace.

Why is change management important for cloud migrations?

The purpose of switching to G Suite is not to replicate legacy systems but to experience a completely different, transformational way of working. G Suite allows employees to be more engaged, data-driven, productive, collaborative, and agile. The power of G Suite can create technological and cultural transformation. 

Likewise, a solid cloud infrastructure allows enterprises to build up their technology stack and deploy applications with ease, while benefiting from cost-savings, scalability, and the reliability of being in the cloud. They also improve speed-to-innovation with faster deployment and scaled application performance, which will free up engineering resources from the tedious task of infrastructure management.

Moving to the cloud shouldn’t simply be tolerated, but embraced for the business growth it can unlock. 

What are the most critical elements to getting change management right? Any tips?

  • Communication is key. The best way to overcome resistance is to build a line of two-way communication, so that team members can always ask questions. Computer-based trainings are one-way, but at Maven Wave, we often use webinars and workshops to give people the opportunity to ask questions live. During these sessions, employees will explain how they work today, and we’ll show them hands-on the best approach for tomorrow. 
  • Listen to the team. This brings us to our next point: it’s critical to let people know their voices are being heard and that they have a seat at the table throughout a change management process. Even if they’re struggling or resistant in the beginning, listening will help to break down the barriers keeping them from success. When the process is managed well, teams will get through the inevitable resistance portion of the change curve and eventually accept and even thrive with the new solutions. 
  • See the power in sponsorship. We leverage a “Google Guides Program” in virtually every change management project, where we empower change in phases with specific groups. We determine influential folks within different levels of the organization (not always the top decision-makers), onboard them to the technology first before it goes live throughout the company, and then work with them to evangelize the transformation. 
  • Brand the change. To boost engagement, we will essentially create an internal PR and marketing campaign around the transformation. The goal is to get the team excited and encourage them to have fun with the process. We’ve even had clients create swag for their change management “campaign”!

What are the biggest drivers of change management failure?

Employee attitudes and management behavior are often at fault. Employees’ resistance to change is the most common hurdle with change management, but management behavior not supporting change is a close second. 

What are the main reasons for resistance to change?

Our previous blog “4 Steps to Successful Change Management” identifies the most common culprits, including ineffective or disengaged sponsorship, lack of communication, insufficient project resourcing, and a lack of long term project support.

What’s Maven Wave’s approach to change management?

We specialize in going beyond the typical cloud implementation partnership. Our goal is to ensure clients are making the most out of their investment, so we develop solutions to help them leverage Google technology to solve their unique business challenges. To achieve that, we use elements of our clients’ culture as a foundation to adjust our change approach; we believe in the power of culture to accelerate change management success.

Our change methodology involves four steps: 

  • Research: During this phase, we access company culture, create personas, identify changes in norms and behaviors to target, and use assessments to guide the change impact and organizational readiness.
  • Develop: At this point, we use the insights we’ve gathered to shape the initiative, identify key targets for change, define feedback channels and loops, and ensure a solid measurement system is in place.
  • Deploy: We leverage our proven three-phase deployment approach to execute on the research-driven plan.
    • Core IT: In this stage, organizations confirm and test technical design, identify integration points, become familiar with tools and technology, and more. 
    • Early Adopters: Here, we validate the migration approach, test the change management assets and plan, gather feedback on key change elements, and enable Google Guides (explained above).
    • Global Go-Live: In the final stage, companies bring the rest of the organization onto the same system, execute foundational and customized change tactics, and transition to longterm adoption and transformation efforts.
  • Measure: Here, we assess behavioral changes and adjust as needed, communicating progress and reinforcing new behaviors.

Maven Wave has helped hundreds of Fortune 500 enterprises and well-known brands successfully adopt cloud programs. In one example, we helped Standard Industries – an organization with 15,000+ employees across 184 locations spanning 80 countries – migrate to G Suite.

For more information on how change management can transform your company, contact us today. 

March 11th, 2020

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