Part 1 of this 5-parter provided some insight into what the Cloud really is and showed that the intent is good for a sound investment. Then, Part 2, further identified the different types of Cloud offerings available for organizations from which to choose. Also highlighted were some very important aspects in the decision process, proving that not every Cloud has a silver lining.

In Part 3, I cobbled together the most common misconceptions about the Cloud that have been proliferated by the industry, by marketing, by vendors and associates.  These represent the primary factors for slowing down Cloud adoption across the board. Many still adhere to these misconceptions as truth, keeping organizations from improving and realizing a more valuable, more cost efficient and highly optimized environment.

But, while the first 3 articles might seem enough to help change attitudes about utilizing the Cloud, that's really not all of it. Even with this information now in your arsenal, there's still the matter of convincing colleagues and selling the values of the Cloud to management and decisions makers. So, my hope in this article is to give you enough insight into how the selling process should work so that you can bring others to your side to invest in a modern organization.

Develop a Business Change Plan

Not everyone has business acumen. And, if you fall into that category — be truthful about it. Using that as a starting point gives you the necessary energy to begin researching essential avenues for help, including web sites or more knowledgeable associates.

A business change plan is essential to tickle the ears of decision makers. Without a proper business change plan in place, you might as well be professing that unicorns exist because it'll be viewed in much the same way. A business change plan is the blueprint for success. It provides a detailed timeline for implementation and the value that will be realized when the implementation is complete.

Even if you found good research resources, you really don't want to be left shouldering the burden of developing a business change plan on your own if you're still not comfortable with it. When you really want to get serious about developing the business change plan, consider finding some help. Microsoft partners with many reputable companies that can provide the help you need to develop your business change plan and even be on hand to help you implement and sell it.

To locate a partner in your area, use Microsoft PinPoint.

Develop a Back Out Strategy

One of the biggest failures for any implementation or organizational change is that a back out strategy was not included in the completed plan. In Part 2, I highlighted how important it is to choose the right mix of Cloud services to provide the best value for the organization. I also stated that not every Cloud scenario would provide an optimized experience and total cost savings. So, since choosing the right Cloud option means there will be a good amount of testing involved, a back out plan is essential.

Decisions makers will ask things like: What if it doesn’t work? What if we don't experience the cost savings you are professing? What if something breaks?

Due diligence is the key. Build a back out strategy into the final plan that can have your organization operating back at previous implementation levels quickly without too much interruption. Management will definitely appreciate the attention to detail and feel more comfortable about moving forward with your plan if there is minimal disruption.

Work with Decision Makers

This may sound like the most horrid prospect imaginable, but you need to somehow learn to think like decision makers – or, at least speak in a language they understand. A great business change plan and a good back out plan will get you in the door, but you also have to develop trustworthy communication to complete the deal.

Looking back at the information toolset you've built over the last few articles, you should have enough material to speak intelligently and effectively to help decision makers understand the need, the requirements, the cost, and the value for migrating apps and services to the Cloud that fits your organization best. And, locating a trusted partner through Microsoft PinPoint will increase your chances dramatically as they have experience in understanding management-speak.

Mandates

If realizing the value and cost savings the Cloud provides is not enough, another selling point is that governmental agencies are close to mandating Cloud utilization. In 2010, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) developed specific plans to mandate Cloud computing for all government agencies. In 2013, agencies were required to provide details and road maps on their plans for adopting cloud-based technologies. Cloud adoption for government has stalled somewhat, but only long enough for Cloud offerings to catch up to the demand.

Companies like Microsoft are developing Cloud offerings designed specifically to meet government regulations for data storage, security, and privacy. At WPC 2014, Microsoft announced new advances in the Government Cloud.

Review Microsoft's Government Cloud initiatives here: Microsoft in Government

Summary

It would be nice if migrating apps and services to the Cloud could be done with the throwing of a single switch. Nice and easy. But, as we all know, when technology is involved something that works for one, never works for all. Due to differing environments and a variance in requirements, nothing can ever be as simple as want it to be.

By being responsible and walking through the steps to build a proper business change plan, including a back out strategy, learning management-ese, and adhering to mandates, policies, and regulations, selling the virtues of the Cloud will be much easier. And, locating a good, trusted partner can eliminate roadblocks.

In the last article of this series, I'll wrap everything up and also give you insight into how the Cloud is advancing and evolving, and what to expect to see in the next 3-5 years.

Rod Trent is the IT Community Manager for Windows IT Pro and myITforum.com, both sister brands of American City & County.

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