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A cloud journey - managing your technology change with the 4 P's

This post is for accounting firms and entreprenuers who want to make a successful move to new technology in the cloud.

Moving to the cloud, as you can imagine, or have experienced, is a project that requires significant investment of your resources, it is after all, your business that is on the line.

And with all change comes risk. There is the risk you can mitigate through research and testing. 

Then there is the risk that is unforeseen and needs to be dealt with when issues arise.

For 7 years I have seen many organisations consider and execute a migration to the cloud.

The outcomes are always positive and efficiencies are eventually gained, usually in period 2.

However the starting point is often crucial as you will be swamped with information from software vendors, implementation consultants, thier personal network and social media content.

How do you process all of this information and decide on a plan?

I have come up with a simple method which will allow you to get off to a good start.

They are the 4 P's on managing change in the cloud.

It is a intuitive and simple yet effective tool for categorising all the essential elements and creating a decision framework.

The content in that framework is up to you to pull together with what you feel is required for your business.

I just want to provide you with an option for the flow for your decisions. 

The 4 P's

1 - Product

First cab off the rank is to decide what you will sell.

This really is "why" and then "what". Why are we doing this and what are we selling?

I know, I know.

"Duh" of course there is a product but all other decisions lead back here, so it needs to be considered first. 

What I mean by that is, when you choose a platform to deliver your product (the second P), such as Salesforce or G Suite, this choice might actually have an effect on your product as it could create opportunity for new product or changes to existing product.

For example, an accounting firm might choose a new platform that free's up a significant amount of time. Then what? Go to the beach or grow the business, or start new products?

So be flexible, what you think you want may change as you roll this change out.


2 - Platform

So after you have got an idea of your product, next question is, what platform are you going to implement to deliver that product?

This will depend on your type of business, as well as the separate apps that may need to talk to each other.

Maybe jump on Zapier.com and check out the options there. Is your choice of platform there? Yes, great, no, maybe ask why not. Zapier plays nicely with most of the key apps in each industry. If you don't know what Zapier is, it "connects" apps together to produce opportunity.

There is a video below on what Zapier does for Xero accounting firms.

This element is often a point of information gathering from various sources (mostly vendors).
You have to contend with the personal motivations of those providing this information. In other words, salespeople.

You can do your own research online but this often leads to overwhelm.

You might end up guessing which one is best.

Some independent advice would be really good here, can you find it?

Probably the most important consideration at this stage is your budget. It could be worth paying someone to get this right for you.

Ask around, there could be some reputable cloud implementors / integrators that could assist you not only with set-up and training, but also with software choice. They may specialise in your industry or have helped a business with similar characteristics.

So take your time and do your research, because once you are invested, resources will start flowing out the door and you might want them flowing back in as soon as possible.

3 - People

Now be careful with this part, as it can have an effect on people's ego's. Fear comes out and that fear becomes anger, and negative energy makes this whole transformation more painful that it needs to be.

So who are the people that are going to use the platform to deliver the product?

Probably you and your staff.

What are they like and what influence do they have?

This element requires careful planning around change management, skills adjustment, changes in habits and mindset.

There will be a few comments along the lines of "It ain't broken, so why fix it" and "We are used to doing it this way".

On occasions I find information asymmetry (people keeping stuff to themselves) which has a detrimental effect on the owners decision making. So keep your ear close to the ground.
I suggest you watch a Tony Robbins video on Youtube. Maybe go to Youtube and google "Tony Robbins Rapport" and see what that delivers. You might need all your charisma to get this over the line successfully.

Once the people are up to speed, the final P can be considered and designed.

4 - Process

Given that you have decided on your product, decided on the platform and got the people where they need to be, you will of course have to design and implement your processes. 

This means workflows, in other words, how someone does a task or a series of tasks in order to achieve a desired outcome.

What is the new process?

Well you can't figure that out until the other 3 P's are decided on, that is why this is last.
In my experience, no two businesses are the same.

Also, think back to what Zapier does, it could eliminate some processes, or add different ones. Or both.

Some processes that were used in the past can be automated or removed by an efficient platform. 
Processes will change a lot, so be very flexible.

Consider the impact the new process has, is it efficient, is it valuable, is it necessary?

​Summary

o there you have it, a simple list of essential elements that will allow you to plan and roll out your transformation to a new business in the cloud.

Just remember, to keep it simple:

  1. Decide on what your product is
  2. Choose your platform
  3. Educate your people
  4. Implement your process

Hopefully it allows you to make better decisions about your transformation.

Thanks, have a great one.

Donnie Buchanan



 

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