Through many years of industry work experience, I’ve gained knowledge of the concerns of businesses. For that reason I know that choosing a new cloud solution can be difficult for a company. Bearing this in mind I’ve created a list of four tips that will make for a happier cloud migration.

Investment in the Cloud has been one of the most disruptive forces of IT spending since the early digital age. In fact, Gartner predicts the collective amount of what it calls the ‘Cloud Shift’ will reach $111 billion in 2016. There are several ways to facilitate a smooth transition, from on-premise CRM, HR or IT Service Management and Collaboration tools to public cloud solutions. If you want to know how you can make your cloud migration a successful one? Then keep on reading!

1. Which Software Should You Move to the Cloud?

Not all applications are suitable for cloud migration, either technically, from a business standpoint, or both. When it comes to applications, it’s best to start when there is a viable cloud alternative. CRM and Human Resource Management and Collaboration are areas where we have seen substantial growth in the move of on-premise business applications, such as Siebel and PeopleSoft, to the public cloud.

Sometimes the transition proves to be difficult, to ease the burden it is important that the applications don’t impede with the core architecture and connect well with existing applications. The applications should furthermore make your business more agile, meaning they are simple to implement, low risk, flexible and able to expand over time. Make sure you have clear and compelling reasons before you start moving certain applications to the cloud, this way the cost and effort will align with the expected results.

2.  A Good Plan Is Half the Battle

Remember how the Achaeans won the battle over Troy? Exactly, with a plan. It may seem like a no-brainer, but many companies don’t approach the process with a clear plan. When making the plan it’s best to start by creating a checklist before the implementation. Ask basic questions like: "What is really necessary? When do we want to do it? Which cloud based applications will bring the biggest business benefits and are the easiest to implement? And what do we need to check, think of technical concerns or budget, before we do the implementation?" Without a checklist it's easy to lose sight of these important questions during the process, because the migration can seem deceitfully easy.

"The plan depends on the size of your project and what you want to implement"

The plan will depend on the size of your project and what you want to implement. Smaller projects clearly won’t need the extensive planning bigger projects do, therefore a cloud-based solution can be delivered in a matter of weeks. In a large enterprise environment, the implementation of a cloud-based solution is often reduced to months rather than years, compared to its older on-premise equivalent. But you will still need a plan based on a series of releases and sprints to run a three- to six-month delivery project. Switching over from the legacy on-premise system to a new cloud-based solution also introduces a new way of working. For that reason, it is important for a business to focus on the associated change management during deployment.

3. Use Input From End-Users to Your Advantage

Setting up a cloud solution is a matter of simple configuration, however, it requires input and interaction from end-users. Of course, the intent with the public cloud is to stay close to out-of-the-box capabilities and to avoid any custom development or coding. At the same time, your business needs to determine clear outcomes. With a cloud-based solution it is quite simple to “switch-on” and deploy the system to the end-user, but without specific, measurable, criteria derived from actual business users, there is no way to determine if the objectives of your cloud strategy can be successfully achieved. In a lot of companies the project team often stays limited to IT. Prevent this mistake by including all stakeholders from early on in the process. Regularly ask for feedback and don’t brush off the responses. It can all be used to ensure your spending is being put to the best use. Also, cloud implementations move at cloud speed and that means employees have less time to adapt to the changes brought by the cloud. Make sure you give enough consideration to the post-cloud implementation and what will need to change in employee attitude and approach. Mindset and day-to-day habits are not changed overnight. Management should set a good example as early adapters/ambassadors when it comes to finalizing the implementation.

4. Anticipate the Costs

From a cost perspective, those of you who are used to working with on-premise solutions will need to change their old licensing mentality. One of the key financial benefits of cloud migration is disbursement from Capital to Operating Expenses. Aside from the initial implementation costs, new payment models have emerged. Examples are pay-as-you-go and transaction, or outcome-based charging. In this way, the cloud’s flexibility allows for more accurate spending by businesses. It’s certain cloud billing and pricing systems will evolve, along with the technology.

It’s crucial to keep your original objectives in mind before you decide to perform a cloud migration in the first place. And remember the benefits of such a transition are myriad. Some unexpected advantages for businesses include an increase of creativity and experimentation within an organization, which can result in more interesting projects that are completed faster and more cheaply. By taking the right steps, you are preparing your company to perform at a higher level, now and in the future.