Organisational change impacts of cloud computing

“Organisational change impacts of cloud computing” Keynote speaker – Brad Wells in Brisbane on Friday 25/2/2011.

I recently attended a seminar on the topic of organisational change impact of cloud computing. Whilst the seminar was very specific to cloud computing the subject of change management is an important issue for our customers whether it is a cloud solution or not. In this post I will look at change management in a broader context and then in relation to cloud computing.

Change management for all projects

Now, I am no expert on organisational change management and I won’t go into best practice as that is not my area of expertise, however, I can give a bit of insight into my first hand experience. And what I would suggest is engage someone that has those skills!

Brad made the comment at the seminar that if you don’t start with change management in mind then you are in trouble. I tend to agree with his statement, the projects we are involved in that achieve their objectives as planned are those where all staff accept the necessary change……and well before implementation begins! How do you do that? I hear you ask. From my experience there are a couple of things that are essential.

  • From the outset the benefits need to be sold to all staff, whether that be better reporting or saving them time, it is essential they can see what’s in it for them.
  • Have them involved in the project. If you tend to be a “dictator owner” and believe you are the only one that could possibly design the best system then you will struggle. Like it or not you need to have input from your staff. Not only does it give “buy in” to the project you will end up with a system that actually works as your staff do.
  • Make them use it! Believe it or not I have been involved in projects where the system has been designed and implemented and it works as requested, however, the staff have decided they are too busy to use the new system. I hear you argue (and I agree) that if change management was effective in the organisation this wouldn’t be an issue. Having said that we have all worked with an individual that doesn’t like change and they need a lot of persuasion to do so.

As I have said I am no expert on the subject. If you would like to read further I suggest reading “Organizational Change for Corporate Sustainability” by Dunphy, Griffiths and Benn. In particular Chapter 9 which deals with leadership and organisational change management.

What about the cloud?

First let’s just consider what is meant by cloud computing. It is a term that is relatively recent in its popularity but it really has been around since the inception of the Internet. In really simple terms it is using the Internet to deliver computing services. If you want to get a more in depth definition have a look at the Wikipedia definition here.

It was interesting to hear Brad talk on the subject and he mentioned a lot of which I hadn’t really considered.

  • The traditional role of the IT employee is likely to change from a technical role to more of an advisory role as the technical aspects would be outsourced to cloud operators. Actually, it was interesting to observe the defensive nature of some of the IT employees in the room. To them it was inconceivable that their role could be outsourced. A perfect example of why change management is essential!
  • Policies around the acquisition of cloud services need to exist. Cloud solutions are so easily accessible it is important that staff know what they can and can’t do. The example Brad used was an employee going out and subscribing to project management software with his corporate credit card without his supervisor knowing. Everything related to the project existed online, however, what happens if that employee should decide to move on?!
  • Security in the new paradigm. One of the forensic accountants in the room raised the issue of greater difficulty in tracking a fraud committed using the “accessible anywhere” financial management system.

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