How do you tackle big cloud projects? Adrian Smith, a technical instructor at Lumify (formerly known as DDLS) shares insights like not starting from scratch, enhancing collaboration and communication and building team skills. This article was initially published on TechDay.
For monster cloud migrations in 2023, destroy silos, build culture and skills
As we enjoyed the respite of the holidays and connecting with loved ones, the prospect of 2023's challenges loomed. And now that the new year is here, the challenges (and opportunities) are piled high, like the messages in our email inboxes.
For those in tech teams, their inbox would typically contain discussions on previous projects and how they might affect the company's next 12 months – which can be daunting, holiday or not.
And if your projects involve cloud migration and digital transformation, we can learn from many undertakings in recent years.
1) You do not need to begin from nothing
Most companies have already tested the waters of automation for small tasks. Or they might have seen more proof of concept in other companies. Because of these factors, cloud computing is becoming an enterprise-wide affair.
In our desire to control a massive beast, it is tempting to start from a clean slate and customise everything in-house. But you can also learn much from smaller projects and the experience of external organisations.
In 2020, the BBC started building BBC Online. To gain some much-needed sanity over the project, they opted for a ready-made cloud solution that gave them 90% of the infrastructure they needed. The solution allowed them to build the remaining 10% themselves.
2) Remove project redundancies (but mind the nuances)
Project management and communication are keys to avoiding scenarios where two teams work to solve the same problem separately.
Understanding who is responsible, accountable, consulted and informed about a specific task reduces the chances of doubling up the work. It also helps you reallocate your team members' time and energy towards aspects of the project where they can best contribute, all the while keeping them in the loop and allowing them to share insights when needed.
3) Build team culture and skills through training
What makes decision-makers consider enterprise cloud solutions? It's the desire to create better and more efficient experiences for customers and staff, secure and seamless transactions across customer platforms, and stay productive and connected while working remotely.
None of this can be obtained with a silver bullet... It requires a solid culture of learning and lots of practice. In the 17th edition of the SkillSoft IT Skills and Salary Report, just 31% of responding staff said they undergo IT training to prepare for critical projects, such as migration, deployment or update. This number should be 100%.
Aside from the technical realm, training in soft skills such as communication, project management, and leadership empowers staff to make decisions, address issues or present their progress more effectively.
4) Start with your goals, then identify the skills required
Organisations must always begin with their goals in mind. From there, they can identify the skills needed to achieve those goals or solve challenges and, finally, the teams who are best suited to handling them.
We can get a better understanding of the key technological roadblocks organisations face today by examining skills shortages in different areas. Forbes lists the following skills as being the most in-demand: Data
Communication/Storytelling, Cybersecurity (no surprise here), User experience (UX) design, Digital Marketing (in particular, knowledge of newer channels like the Metaverse and augmented reality) and Artificial Intelligence.
Skillsoft research also revealed the top skills required by staff to solve key organisational problems:
cloud computing (30%)
analytics/big data/data science (28%)
When you consider what problems your organisation wants to solve or what it wants to achieve in 2023, you must ask: Do these problems require better tools? Or can they be solved with better training in processes, technical knowledge, leadership and communication?
5) Balance the needs of today and tomorrow
It is easy to get caught up in the problems of tomorrow. The last couple of years have left many thinking and feeling like they can and should "Never be blindsided again!"
But from my experiences with technology, I take comfort in a couple of things:
While we grapple with economic uncertainty and rising costs, industry trends from the past and the present give us a good indication of what is to come and what we can do about them.
As with Agile, we can build fast and build our minimum subset requirements based on real and present data. From there, you can iterate often based on newer information.
The Institute for the Future estimates that 85% of 2030's jobs are yet to be invented. But you can be sure we will prepare ourselves to help people prepare for those jobs as we get more information.
For now, heads of IT departments and operations need to have a clearer and firmer voice in leadership teams about what the next few years can look like for the organisation.
Leaders in technology and operations need to bring in people from outside their teams and even their companies to collaborate on decisions like managing workloads to avoid burnout, increasing headcount, building culture, training staff, adapting cloud computing solutions, and focusing on strategic projects.
After all, many hands make for light work.
Gain skills to make cloud projects manageable
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We offer more choice and flexibility when it comes to cloud computing training. Find information on available courses here.
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