6 Steps to a Successful Cloud Migration 

By Greencastle Consulting

You’ve decided to start an IT implementation. Whether that be new software to improve business processes or migrating existing systems to cloud-based infrastructure, you need a plan. Here’s a step-by-step guide to help ensure your IT implementation is a success. 

1. Define Objectives & Scope 

Successful IT implementations begin with the end in mind. A business must clearly articulate the goals and objectives driving the implementation and ensure those goals are nested with the overall business strategy. Think of these as the true north of a project – empowering a project team to make decisions based on how they progress the organization towards that stated objective.  

Once objectives are clear, an organization can progress to defining the scope of a project. For an IT implementation, this can look like identifying key features and functionalities of a new tool or system.  These become the deliverables for a project. A clearly defined scope allows an organization to articulate what the project team is responsible for and prevent scope creep from delaying the project.  

2. Conduct a Comprehensive Assessment 

Current state assessments are universal to nearly every project. For IT implementations this means not only reviewing processes but also evaluating existing IT infrastructure. This can help an organization forecast potential integration issues and develop mitigation strategies early to minimize disruptions to users and the business. 

In addition to systems, a business must take the time to consider the human dimension of their organization as well. This starts with engaging stakeholders to build out requirements and ensure new software meets user requirements. Early engagement also helps generate organizational buy-in for the change and decreases resistance to adoption later in the implementation. 

3. Develop a Project Plan 

Now that we’ve defined where we’re going, it’s time to document how we’ll get there. Start by breaking an implementation down into a series of deliverables, milestones, and phases of work. These smaller segments allow an organization to better estimate resource requirements and forecast activity durations. These activities include everything from vendor selection to developing a change management plan to train affected employees on the new system.  

With deliverables and milestones identified, a business can then move to building a project roadmap. A roadmap allows an organization to visualize an implementation timeline while highlighting key milestones and deliverables. An effective roadmap not only helps guide a project team but also can be used to communicate project progress to stakeholders external to the project.  

4. Select the Right Technology 

It can be tempting for organizations to jump ahead to this next step – selecting the right technology. IT implementations often occur because a company has identified a need to optimize the way it does business. Workshops to define scope or review a proposed project roadmap aren’t going to do that, a new or improved technology is. However, skipping the necessary planning steps will only delay an organization’s ability to efficiently select a technology solution in the long run. 

The reality is, that vendor selection is often simple when an organization invests the appropriate time and focus into planning. Highly refined business requirements allow organizations to quickly eliminate tools that won’t meet their needs. Understanding existing IT infrastructure informs additional development work that may be necessary, avoiding unforeseen delays.   

5. Execute & Optimize 

An IT implementation is as much about executing a plan as it is about anticipating issues and developing risk mitigations to avoid them. Effective governance controls are the way to address both of these points. A project team must establish regular touchpoints to review progress, change requests, risk mitigations, and key decisions. Once a project enters its execution phase, the team’s focus should be on removing barriers to progress and planning ways to avoid issues on the horizon.  

6. Document & Review 

As an implementation is progressing it can be easy to fixate on simply achieving results. Executing is important but it’s also critical to take the time to document processes, configurations, and changes. This documentation should be reviewed at regular intervals throughout the project to ensure the implementation maintains alignment with the initial business objectives.  

The documentation compiled over the life of an implementation should be reviewed in a thorough post-implementation review. This is an opportunity for a business to document lessons learned and potential areas for improvement on future projects.   

Who We Are 

Cloud migrations are no small task for businesses. These projects can span months and in some cases years, requiring large investments of time, resources, and energy. Bringing in a team of experts to help your organization achieve success is a great way to help ensure you see a return on that investment. 

Greencastle specializes in strategy execution, operations consulting, and data analytics. Our clients rely on us to drive success on their most critical projects, including cloud migrations. We are 100% veteran-owned and entirely veteran-operated. 

If you’re preparing for an IT implementation or currently navigating one and need some help, let’s connect