Why Do Over 50% of Cloud Deployments Fail?

Today’s business models are facing a prolonged period of accelerated change with a high demand for rapid cloud solution deployments to reduce costs and respond effectively to ‘business disruption’. Global research organisation, Forrester, predicts that in 2018 cloud computing will accelerate enterprise transformation everywhere, describing it as a ‘must-have business technology’.

In response, an unprecedented number of organisations are making the move from an ‘on-premise’ based IT infrastructure to cloud based solutions – but, alarmingly, it is predicted that almost 60% of big data projects are expected to fail this year!

In my experience, this stems from a fundamental barrier to successful cloud deployment solutions, either a lack of focus on, or a complete resistance to, change.

Change processes must be an integral part of any cloud solution deployment.

Organisations that fail to manage change effectively face disruption for all the wrong reasons when their project subsequently fails.

Cloud deployment solutions are dynamic and promote best practice in HR. Years of experience and research has gone in to creating solutions that are both engaging and easy to use, with intuitive interfaces and processes. At Gavdi, we have a particular expertise in automating customer HR processes with SAP SuccessFactors. This can range from a payroll implementation to core HR and extend to talent areas where the engagement of business users is vital for success.

To succeed, these solutions require operational engagement and a commitment to change management. But, way too often, organisations are simply not willing to make the necessary changes to business processes to ensure their cloud project is a success.

Is your organisation ‘change-agile’ and flexible?

Organisations must recognise that it all begins with change. Not the solution chosen to a large degree or its deployment. Cloud deployments are a means to an end, not the end itself.

Cloud has its limits. Custom development is restricted, and organisations must adapt to what is available. In 2017, Gavdi entered into a strategic partnership with globally recognised change leaders Mercer. In their Global Talent Trends Survey 2017, Mercer found only 4% of organisations are ‘change-agile’, clearly highlighting the challenges most organisations face when moving to a cloud solution.

Based my own 18 years of experience deploying ASP, SaaS and Cloud solutions, it appears many organisations risk being ‘institutionalised’, having developed their own ‘way’ of managing processes which has become embedded in their culture, with institutional resistance to change.

Starting at ‘Phase Zero’

More frequently than not, organisational leadership fails to understand the reasons why change is occurring, how it is happening and its impact on individuals in the organisation. This is what I call ‘Starting at Phase Zero’ – the essential organisational ‘cloud-readiness assessment’, which is essential to understand the changes required and how they will impact the organisation as a whole.

Achieving those essential changes, both in culture and expectations, is the key difference between a successful and failed deployment. Adoption of best practices inherent within most cloud solutions will ensure that the project will be successful, with change being central to that success.

Developing a ‘change-agile’ business

The standard definition of agility is ‘the ability to move quickly and easily’. But that does that mean? Margaret Ruiseal, Partner and Head of the HR Transformation Practice, Europe at our partner, Mercer, offers the following insights: –

‘Managing change in the digital world requires agility. Today’s technology can be implemented far more rapidly than people’s behaviours change. To enable this step, leaders must clearly demonstrate the rationale behind this transformation, how it supports the overall business and what it means for individuals.

A clear change strategy that focuses on leadership, engagement and communication lies at the heart of a successful transition.  

Planned engagement sessions that draw in key individuals in the design phase, sessions that build a dialogue between leaders and employees and a compelling story throughout the programme are critical to successful change planning’.

Getting away from the ‘we have always done it this way’ or ‘we know best culture’ is vital. Too often I have seen projects stumble and grind to a halt because the business did not truly understand these basic principles.

4 Recommendations for successful deployment

Without wishing to prescribe a ‘one size fits all’ approach, I would recommend the following:

  • Keep it simple – a variety of deployment procedures used within your organisation leads to unnecessary complexity. Try and stick to a single ‘standard’ way of doing things.
  • Ensure you have the right skills (and mindsets!) in place, especially amongst HR and business leaders.
  • Ensure that you complete the “Phase Zero” work prior to project commencement and it is aligned with your selected cloud solution.
  • Align business processes to the solution and ensure they are flexible enough to respond to the changing demands of your organisation.

Without a clear change management strategy, your organisation may well join the 60% of failed cloud projects. But, with a clear and agreed change strategy, aligned to a good cloud solution and aligned processes, your chances of success are significantly improved.

Andy Hodges is Managing & Group Director at Gavdi. Andy has been in the HR industry for 25 years and the HRIT industry since 1999, having worked at a new start up Application Service Provider company in 1999, and working with SAP since 2003 on both ‘On Premise’ and ‘SaaS/Cloud’ versions of their HR suite. Andy previously worked as a Business Consultant, advising customers about technology, processes, organisation and change, before taking on a business management role in 2011. Along with his role as MD for UK and Ireland, he is also responsible for Gavdi’s group sales and marketing function, which includes managing partnerships such as our Mercer relationship, where Gavdi and Mercer work together to ensure that organisations are ready for the cloud, and the challenges that these projects bring.

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