Preparing for the “Soft” Side of Cloud Transitions

We tend to give a lot of consideration to the technology and infrastructure aspects of moving to the cloud, but we often overlook the human element.

As life sciences companies begin the journey of transitioning from legacy systems and infrastructure to a fully managed cloud service, they need to consider how best — and how quickly — to let go of the day-to-day management of their solutions.

As you’re undergoing the transfer to cloud, what sort of organizational processes will you require? For example, how will tech support be managed? Does your internal support desk handle the call they receive on a Monday morning in a slightly different manner than they did on the Friday before the new as-a-service system went live? How about the end users? How will they be affected by the change to the cloud?

The change may be very subtle, but if the support staff aren’t properly trained on the change process and those processes aren’t thoroughly communicated, problems could arise. And since the point of a cloud service is to remove many of those internal technology problems, it’s important to clarify any potential misunderstandings from the outset.

Impact on business processes

Important though the human or process side of a significant infrastructure change is, it’s often overlooked. For example, when one large pharmaceutical company decided to get rid of its old infrastructure and move to a cloud service, it carefully considered all the drivers for an as-a-service system and prepared a clear rollout phase. The company planned to gradually move its regulatory solutions from several vendors onto a single platform to create data hubs, but what it didn’t fully appreciate was how the move would affect its current business processes.

One of the ways this “soft side” can be better handled is by working with a business manager from the vendor side to guide your company through the changes and to articulate the layer of communication that will be required. Among the areas you should focus on during the cloud transition are:

  • Give high priority to continuous education, validation and engagement.
  • Commit resources to business process design before the go-live date.
  • Ensure that a robust end-to-end support structure is in place.
  • Manage the expectations of the business community.

The large pharmaceutical company that discovered during its transition to the cloud that more time and resources could and should have been spent on the human side has since put that knowledge into practice in other projects. It’s bringing in stakeholders right at the start of conversations about new solutions or process changes and making sure the organization, as a whole, is knowledgeable and prepared.

This human or “soft” side is not a big or an arduous job, but it is an important one.

Learn more about how the cloud or as-a-service can benefit your organization and how to make the business case for cloud by downloading our white paper, The Business Case for Life Sciences in the Cloud.

Dawn Waite is manager of Life Sciences Cloud Solutions at DXC Technology.

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