Enterprise cloud applications have come a long way since Salesforce launched in 1999 . From these humble beginnings Forbes now estimates that over 80% of enterprise workloads are handled in a cloud environment. The cloud itself has morphed into four distinct flavors — Public, Private, Hybrid and Community. With scale and choice organizations are now facing the third horseman of the IT apocalypse — complexity.

By promising anonymity to my global network I have managed to elicit these four key lessons from project failures while still maintaining my friendships. Everyone I spoke to said that the drive to work from home (WFH) was adding new complexity and challenges for cloud migrations and implementations. Decisions by companies such as Siemens, Microsoft and Hitachi to have their global workforces work from home is adding challenges which means that these professionals have to learn from their mistakes as they are about to go and make a whole bunch of new ones. In no particular order here are four of my favorite stories from the bleeding edge of cloud migrations.

Who is in your cloud?

Mr. B ran a shared service center in India with 2,000 seats. The decision was made to move the core CRM and support applications to the cloud. The issue was that some of the third-party systems that were relied upon for plug-ins and data sets were not cloud-ready and so when the core solutions migrated to the cloud these solutions that are relied upon for niche delivery failed and made the core solution unworkable.

Lesson Learned: Make sure the migration of an application to the cloud includes a mapping of all dependencies of systems not in scope for the migration.

Speed kills

Mr. A was the program director for one of the tier-one banks when they moved to a global cloud application — their first ever solution to migrate to the cloud. The program management office was set up to handle the 20-plus countries in scope in my region. There was a centralized budget that was drawn down by each client country-level project manager and reconciled regionally at a quarterly cadence. Due to the cloud driven speed of deployment, a “rogue” country decided to get all their wish list items put the through the change order process burning up the entire quarters program budget in a single month.

Lesson Learned: Understand the cadence that the business can now work at in a cloud environment and ensure the business processes and governance structures can keep up.

Understand and train the new audience

Ms. B works for a global SI that was responsible for the migration to a new cloud based HCM solution for a manufacturing business. In the old system the interaction point was a single page with PDF documents posted to it. The new system was designed to have HR self-service. Training and internal communication were not adequately budgeted which was an issue as the population that now was supposed to engage through the cloud solution tripled. The new audience did not know what the solution was or how they were supposed to use it; all they knew was that they now didn’t have access to their time off and payroll information. The drop in productivity was not what the project was aiming for.

Lesson Learned: The people need to be the primary consideration in the People, Process, and Technology implementation model if you are looking for adoption and project success.

Selecting the right delivery partner

Mrs. A selected a tier-one partner for her global engineering operation’s move to a cloud procurement solution. The issue was that the budget allocation for the project meant that the pitch team for the project were not involved in the delivery. She ended up with the C team handling her project which led to sub-standard delivery and budget overruns.

Lesson Learned: Make sure that you have the right delivery team from the partner not just the right pitch team.

The unifying theme across these four scenarios is the need to have the right data to make confident decisions related to cloud migration projects. Cloud requires a different set of metrics to target and deliver success for a business while avoiding some of the mistakes such as the ones above. Check out our next blog on Metrics for a Meaningful ROI for some of the new ways companies are measuring success.

At Knoa we strive to help companies who are moving ERP systems to the cloud to get user adoption, increased employee productivity and business outcomes from their cloud application investments. If you would like to learn more, check out our cloud migration resources.