For a long time, “The Cloud” was an enigma that seemed intimidating to many organizations. As the years have passed, most people’s understanding of the internet and digital data storage has improved. At the same time, the Cloud has improved to offer even better service to businesses across industries. It’s become far more common, thus removing the mystery and helping to build confidence in going digital. Regardless of the Cloud you choose for your business, there will be things you have to do to prepare. Today, let’s discuss five ways you can prepare your organization for the transition.
Go through your files to clear out the clutter.
In an ideal world, we could snap our fingers and automatically be working in the Cloud. Unfortunately, there is some work to do on the front end of things. Namely, you must collect your files to transition them into the Cloud. Most organizations using traditional methods rely heavily on paper storage, filing cabinets, stacks of paper, etc. In order to migrate all the historical data into the Cloud, you’re going to want to start by sifting through everything to determine what is worth keeping and what can be left behind. Many organizations tend to store documents for decades, even when they aren’t required for any reporting or historical audits. If you find obsolete, irrelevant, or otherwise unneeded documents, they don’t have to go with you into the Cloud.
It’s important to note, for Public Sector entities, in particular, records must be saved. Be sure to keep anything legally required to stick around. Your “to be digitized” pile might be enormous, but there are plenty of scanning systems that make uploading archived information into the Cloud a breeze. You won’t (typically) need to enter everything manually, so don’t feel the need to downsize if all your files are genuinely important.
Determine which Cloud environment is right for your business.
Once you’ve cleared out the clutter, take a look at what you’re left with. How much storage do you need? Is the information you have sensitive, confidential, or publicly available? Are you comfortable sharing a Cloud space with others (who will not be able to access your information but are in the same Cloud)? There are a lot of questions to think through when deciding which Cloud is right for you. Not all Clouds are the same, so research is going to be important. Try to find unbiased reviews or information whenever possible because every hosting company will want you to believe they are the best. Comparison charts are also a good resource, particularly if you’re torn between two options. Here are a few things to look for when choosing a Cloud:
- Licensing structure: Look at the limit of licenses/users to ensure your entire team will have access to necessary information.
- Cost: An obvious thing to look at, but very important. Find a Cloud that fits within your budget and provides great value. Remember – “You get what you pay for.”
- Tenant hosting: Clouds can be single or multi-tenant. As we mentioned briefly, this is whether you share the Cloud with other organizations or exist in your own bubble. Single-tenant structures are typically more secure and free up more space.
- Management services: Cloud providers can offer managed services to help you with the upkeep of your Cloud. Not all providers have this option, so if you’re new to the Cloud and feel your team may need help on the back end, be sure this box is checked off.
- Compliance: Clouds as a whole need to offer security. They store data, and data must be protected. Therefore, it would be hard to find a Cloud noncompliant with the most basic principles of digital data. That doesn’t mean all Clouds offer compliance for industry-specific regulations, however. You’ll want to check the stats on the Cloud and your proposed provider to ensure they meet standards of things like HIPAA, CJIS, etc. If your system is already compliant, you wouldn’t want to bring in a Cloud that negatively impacts that.
- Integrations: Can your Cloud/the Cloud provider integrate with other business systems? A Cloud that simply stores data isn’t much use. You’re going to want to be able to use data with other apps. Some Clouds/providers support different degrees of integration, so be sure to pick one which meshes with your plan.
Replace old processes with new digital tools.
Speaking of integration, it won’t be possible unless your other processes are digitized. It would be silly to grab data from the Cloud only to have to handwrite it on a paper or file as part of another process. The goal of digitizing is to streamline communication between departments and all systems. You can, in theory, move to the Cloud before your other processes are digitized, but you won’t be reaping the full benefits of the Cloud until it can communicate with systems to make your life easier. We recommend getting your existing processes in order before, or at the same time, you transition to the Cloud. It can involve a lot of prep work to get all this done, but it will speed up the time it takes to see value from your transition.
Educate yourself and your team on the Cloud.
Research is important to determine which Cloud is right for you, but it’s also key for understanding what the Cloud is and why it’s so beneficial to organizations. Don’t wait for the data to be in the new Cloud to start learning what that means for you – work with your team to explain what’s changing with the transition. Many Cloud providers will be happy to speak with you to answer questions, or you can turn to the internet to read up on things yourself. The Cloud can be a tough concept to fully grasp, but videos, articles, and quick start guides can help. Remember: you don’t need to be a Cloud expert unless your role requires you to maintain it. A few topics to research include:
- What is the Cloud?
- How is our information kept safe in the Cloud?
- How can the Cloud improve our organization?
- What type of information should be housed in the Cloud?
- Where is your Cloud hosted, and what does that mean? (On-prem, worldwide, regionally, etc.)
- How can you leverage the Cloud in your daily tasks?
Create a timeline with priorities.
Finally, be sure you have a timeline laid out with a list of priorities. As with anything, you might not be able to complete everything all at once. Determine what is most necessary for your business immediately and prioritize it higher than things that can wait a week or two. Make sure you’re communicating with your provider to ensure your timeline is realistic. We all want our projects completed ASAP, but there are limitations even the best IT experts might not be able to get around. If you have a timeline in your head, meet with your provider to compare it to their implementation plan. Together you can come to a compromise which best suits your needs. The size and complexity of your Cloud can affect the time it takes to make sure things are up and running, but so can many other factors. Be patient, and don’t be afraid to ask questions or request implementation updates along the way. In conjunction with your provider, everything will be accomplished as efficiently as possible.
Effort is required for all things worth having. The Cloud is absolutely something worthwhile for any organization, particularly those in paper-heavy industries like the Public Sector. By taking adequate time to prepare for the move to the Cloud, you set your team up for success right out of the gate. You’ll see the true value sooner and see productivity shoot up once implementation is complete. We are proud to offer Cloud Hosting and Managed Services here at i3 in both Microsoft Azure and AWS. We have dedicated support teams specifically for Cloud users to help streamline implementation and iron out any issues you may run into. To learn more about Cloud Hosting, please visit https://imagesoftinc.com/cloudhosting/.