5 Key Cloud Migration Strategy Considerations to Ensure High User Adoption

6 minutes to read
August 23, 2021

When an organization cannot achieve widespread user adoption of cloud technologies, many of the benefits of migration are lost.

If some business areas are adopting cloud technology, but others aren’t, you may be losing out on savings you would enjoy with full-scale migration. In addition to that, it’s difficult to update and enforce security software or policies with a mix of legacy systems and cloud services.

Unfortunately, as long as different departments within an organization have different needs, it will be challenging to get them on the same page about updating legacy systems to new technologies.

That’s troubling because the most significant benefits to cloud migration often rely on updating organization-wide infrastructure technologies, not niche or department-specific software. Sadly, those are the migrations that often result in the most resistance.

Forced adoption is rarely a practical solution, so what’s the answer? You need an incentive-based approach that will have users happily moving to the cloud. We’ve provided five strategies to help you do that.

Take the "User First" Approach

It’s a mistake to take a tech-focused approach to cloud migration. Instead, it’s the users who should take priority. As you plan your migration, keep the impact on the user in mind.

Remember that while the organization may see innovation, money saved on support and maintenance costs, easier security management, and simplified deployments, end-users often experience:

●     Concerns about learning new systems

●     Failure of decision-makers to consider the impact of migration on end-users

●     Fear that there won't be sufficient resources to help them adapt

●     Lack of integration with other systems they use

●     Inability to see the benefit of innovation

Be aware of that and address the challenges and uncertainties that users will face during the migration. Take a user-first approach in everything.

According to Shannon Hughes of Thinklogic, “Focus on business users, not individual lines of code. You’ve got to focus on what value you bring to the organization by upgrading the software.

Use top CTOs as an example. Those who have successfully led their organizations from legacy applications to SaaS systems have a customer-focused approach. That’s a mindset that works for development but must also be maintained during migration.

Improve the Existing Processes

Often, user hesitancy is grounded in fear of change and disruption to the status quo. Most people think, "well, this is how we’ve always done it." 

Legacy modernization offers a great opportunity to engage with the company and get them talking about their practices. Identify areas where you can make improvements and how legacy-system modernization can make processes more efficient. 

Show that you can make their lives easier by optimizing existing processes through innovation, and integration will happen more willingly. Likewise, you can achieve the same results if you improve the UX.

Shannon Hughes also has some insights on this. She said, “If the new system has a low adoption rate or people aren’t happy using it, it’s because you didn’t take that opportunity to evaluate how people are using the old system and what they’re doing with it. We don’t update software for the sake of software. Software is for users; software is for people to use. So if you’re not going to make something more secure, if you’re not going to make something more usable, if you’re not going to make something more efficient, don’t upgrade.” 

If you can’t articulate to the user how this shift will make their job easier, improve their work pace, or offer some other benefit, you can’t blame them for being skeptical.

Maybe you should be, as well. "What can this do for users?" is a question that should be asked much earlier in the process as you plan to migrate legacy systems over to modern SaaS technology.

Create an Onboarding Process

Again, resistance to change often comes from a lack of understanding and fear. If you create a straightforward onboarding process, it can increase adoption among less tech-savvy team members. 

Remember that legacy systems are complex. Show that the new software is easier to use.

One of the key steps of managing user adoption during migration is articulating its benefits to those impacted by it.

The best way to approach that is to use onboarding to show users how they can specifically use the new technology to get the most out of its features.

One example of this would be migrating from a server-based to cloud-based email client. Without any onboarding process, the average user will simply use the new email software as they did the old. Predictably, this leads to wasted time and struggling to enjoy the same level of functionality.

If you create a user-focused onboarding process, you can educate users about the new email software’s different features and advanced capabilities. 

You can also teach users how to perform everyday tasks by showing them helpful tips such as the same keyboard shortcuts. That will eliminate friction and ensure a less frustrating transition.

It's also acceptable to sell users on benefits of cloud adoption that don't benefit them directly. Most understand the importance of security and compliance. They also understand making changes to accommodate budgets and changing hardware costs. 

While they may not understand all of the IT budget processes, most users know that it is necessary to update outdated systems. Balance selling them on the idea of the cloud migration improving business processes with the idea that it's necessary to potentially avoid the next security breach.

Communicate with Everyone

Maintain open lines of communication with everyone, regardless of organizational level. That ensures everyone feels “in the loop.” Additionally, this is critical to rolling out post-launch updates that can dramatically improve the new systems if you rely on accurate feedback from your end-users.

Remember that members of the C-suite are often end-users as well. It’s important to pitch them on digital transformation both as decision-makers, but also as people who may be actually using the software you are promoting. 

Considering that 84% of companies reported that executive-level buy-in was a key factor in cloud migration success, it’s essential to prioritize generating enthusiasm in top-tier users.

Make a Plan

Create a communications plan that begins prior to shopping vendors, developing software, or planning the migration. Use it to gather concerns from users, and identify roadblocks to getting user buy-in. 

During the migration, communication is key to identify emerging points of friction, such as training issues. Finally, post-deployment engagement is key to providing the support needed to help users navigate the transition.

Know Your Users

Gain as much understanding about the end-user and their experiences as possible. Spend a day showing them to understand how things truly work. Note the differences in the perceptions of upper management and the realities experienced by workers.

In fact, this kind of market research is just one of the many steps you should be taking to ensure a successful legacy transformation. You must understand that users aren’t a monolith.

End-User Personas

Create end-user personas that allow you to identify and understand attributes about various user groups that the move to the cloud will impact. Each of these will have unique concerns, needs, and questions about the impacts of adopting new technologies. 

That will allow you to engage in observational research, ask relevant questions, and learn how different customers use systems across the organization. Final Thoughts: Create a Migration Process That Prioritizes the User

When it comes to migrating to the cloud or any new technology, users feel like an afterthought. Technical leadership may see savings and reduced overhead. IT staff can see the benefits of new technologies.

Unfortunately, users often experience sudden changes to system software and processes, unfamiliar and newer technologies, and uncertainties. By taking time to understand their needs, educating them about the benefits of migrating for them, and offering support as they adjust, you can better turn resistance into willingness.

All successful migrations begin with a well-designed, digital solution that gets desired results. Contact Thinklogic for help in building something that users will be happy to adopt.


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