Moving to the cloud will require fundamental changes across your entire organisation. To achieve this, you’ll need to gain backing at every level. Senior leadership must be on-board to spearhead your plans and your colleagues from entry-level upwards will be involved in the day-to-day execution. Getting buy-in for your cloud vision is as important as the strategy itself. Don’t underestimate the time and planning needed to communicate effectively with your stakeholders.

Gaining people power

People are critical to your ultimate success. They underpin your organisation’s cloud maturity. That’s why the cloud maturity scale considers the people, processes and technology related to your cloud use. Your stakeholder engagement must reflect this importance – starting from your early adoption of the cloud and moving through each stage.

Know your audience

This begins by knowing who you’re communicating with. Like all great communication plans, your stakeholder engagement needs to be well-targeted and personalised. Each individual should feel like you’re speaking to their needs, ambitions and concerns directly. As well as, of course, their technical level.

The cloud isn’t an easy concept to sell. Not least because it can be a highly technical topic that some non-technical people ignore because they feel overwhelmed. Buy-in has to extend beyond your IT team, so learning to speak to non-technical colleagues is vital. The key is to focus on the bottom-line benefits, risk reductions and added value – tailored to each individual and business unit. Your Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) is going to feel passionate about different added-values and returns to say, your Chief Financial Officer (CFO).

Find their fears

It’s worth understanding how each stakeholder feels about new technology and the cloud itself. If you know that someone is particularly risk-averse and sees the cloud as a risky expense, you can plan for some significant pushback. You can factor in additional time needed to win them over. A CFO who is concerned about increasing cloud costs, for instance, could be put at ease when you engage a financial cloud brokerage to optimise those costs.

Educate and empower

At an early stage, this can be done through pilot projects that quickly prove the value of cloud services. Longer-term, you might want to consider tools such as dashboards and visualisations that will enable stakeholders to track success metrics and performance whenever they desire.

Depending on the cloud literacy level of your organisation, there may be a degree of educating stakeholders before your cloud strategy really gets off the ground. Spelling out exactly what your cloud plans will fulfil for your organisation will be very helpful. Directly link your cloud strategy to the business strategy. Ensure every use of the cloud and every investment is aligned with a specific business goal. This will clearly demonstrate how cloud services will help your organisation achieve its strategic goals.

Align with business goals

For instance, if you’re aware that your CEO wants to move towards flexible working, giving people the option to work from anywhere, then you can explain how the cloud enables this. Moving operations to the cloud will allow employees to access documents and processes whenever and wherever they need. Similarly, if your organisation is facing a skills gap and struggles to recruit in-demand talent. Moving to the cloud and improving mobility could widen your available talent pool beyond local workers. Suddenly, data scientists in Asia and developers in North America become a viable option.

Emphasise cost benefits

Money talks and communicating the cost benefits of the cloud will gain you a few fans. Adopting the cloud is an essential step in embracing emerging technology like automation and artificial intelligence (AI). Furthermore, McKinsey found that using the cloud can reduce your IT overhead costs by up to 40%. It optimises your IT asset usage, ensuring you only use resources as-and-when they’re required and giving your IT infrastructure much-needed flexibility. McKinsey also reports seeing organisations reduce their IT incidents by 70% through the cloud – because those organisations used the move to rethink their IT operations.

Keeping up with the Joneses

It can also pay to highlight how your organisation needs to keep up with the competition. Try to find examples of competitors and market leaders using the cloud to gain an edge.

Netflix offers a good example of how the cloud can transform operations and become a differentiator. The company spent seven years transforming its infrastructure and adopting a cloud-native approach. As a result, its service availability increased to close to 99.99% uptime. IT costs for streaming have also fallen to a fraction of Netflix’s initial data centre costs.

Cloud migration is occurring in all industries. Capital One uses the cloud to operate its mobile banking app. General Electric Oil and Gas is moving the majority of its computing and storage to the public cloud. Maersk is reducing cost and operational risk by migrating its legacy systems to the cloud – a move that’s also futureproofing it and allowing for the use of advanced analytics.

Set out a timeline

Part of the benefit of cloud services is their ease of use and set-up. This can be emphasised through a timeline that sets out your short and long-term cloud plans. Timelines are effective in giving senior stakeholder an indication of what will happen in the near future and when to expect results. They are critically important when infrastructure changes are required. This may not immediately provide bottom-line returns, because it takes time to assess and adapt your physical infrastructure. Having a timeline and key milestones to report back on will help your cause.

Address risks

Of course, like all worthwhile, major transformations, moving to the cloud does come with risk. Explaining those risks and the steps you’ve taken to reduce them will give a balanced argument for the cloud – and show that you’re thinking commercially.

An ongoing task

Getting buy-in for the cloud is an ongoing effort. As your cloud use matures, your stakeholders’ opinions of it, their plans and pain-points will change. Your stakeholder communications should evolve with this to always address their needs, ambitions and challenges. Lining up the cloud with their day-to-day is a sure-fire way to make it a necessity in everyone’s lives.

Who can help?

Strategic Blue specialises in the Financial Operations (FinOps) of cloud.  With this in mind, Strategic Blue would look to help organisations understand their TCO and engage the finance community in the cloud transformation.  However, as suggested in the article, the buy-in needs to be around the whole organisation and for this Strategic Blue work with our partner Kinect Consulting who have specialised engagements to deliver a company-wide vision of transformation.