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Putting people at the center of an organizational cloud transformation


A larger transformation

A $4 billion global technology services company approached us to assist with a simple data migration to Google Cloud Platform (GCP) for one of its data centers. Once we got into the project, we recognized the opportunity to help leaders understand that, for the cloud transformation to be successful, they needed to add some core capabilities within their organization.

Cloud transformation isn’t just about changing technology; it’s about changing skills, roles, and processes to design a better future state.

In pursuit of the best possible outcome for the client, we started asking questions, including:

  • What’s your cloud strategy, and where do you want to go?

  • How does your organization need to transform?

  • What insights can we give you that will move the organization forward?

  • How can we develop repeatable processes?

Initially, the client believed three stakeholder groups and about 30 people would be affected by the migration. By the end of our current-state assessment, we identified 29 stakeholder groups and a total of 155 employees who the initial group interacted with and depended on, and who would be directly affected by the migration.

Our intention was to comprehensively prepare all people for the cloud transformation, and we were committed to doing it the right way. All the preparation work we did up front expanded the scope, but it created a smooth runway for our future projects with the client that they deeply appreciated.

We’re currently involved in a similar project in the client's second data center, and we already know the people and understand the organization.

servers in scope, in one data center
stakeholder groups with unique needs identified
employees directly affected
senior executives aligned on cloud adoption vision and strategic goals

Making change, the right way

During our current-state assessment we conducted interviews to identify current roles and responsibilities, capabilities, organizational design, and key processes within the client organization. The client’s business had grown quickly through acquisitions, and our assessment process helped its employees gain clarity on the structure of the business.

Throughout that process, we learned that they had never had support for organizational change management before. We also formed relationships.

We got to know all the key stakeholders in the organization, and when we realized we needed to spend more time on change management to achieve success, those leaders became our advocates.

The enterprise leaders saw so much value in the change management work we did that they decided to add a change team as a new, formal function in their organization. They committed to bringing the same level of change management that we introduced in this project to every future cloud transformation.

We’re extremely pleased that training and change management are being prioritized; they typically aren’t included in scope but are invaluable to our employees.

Director of Infrastructure

A focus on people

The technology aspect of a cloud transformation is a huge change, but if companies only focus on that aspect, they won’t see the full range of benefits that the cloud can deliver. Many organizations move to the cloud to save on costs, but it also presents opportunities regarding people and process.

Once the client expanded our scope beyond a simple technology migration and set a new goal to optimize and automate their processes for continuous delivery, the organization committed to upskilling its people to meet that goal. We partnered with Google to put together an upskilling plan for the 150-plus people who needed to understand how to operate in the cloud post-migration, as well as the teams across the enterprise that would be indirectly affected.

The plan included:

  • Identifying capabilities within the organization that didn’t exist

  • Assessing changes for each group and the impact of those changes to their day-to-day

  • Training employees on GCP capabilities

  • Incorporating a holistic learning strategy

The new focus on upskilling helped the organization, and individuals on the affected teams were also excited to enhance their skill sets and make themselves more marketable.

I wanted my teams to feel like they were a part of the migration. The win isn’t simply moving workloads to the cloud, but rather, whether they’re comfortable with it and can own it moving forward.

Senior Data Director

current-state processes developed that were tied to cloud adoption
affected team members
capability areas assessed for cloud readiness
high-priority opportunity areas

What does good look like?

As we worked to understand the core capabilities in the client’s IT areas, such as infrastructure, security, operations, application engineering, project management, and more, our guiding question was “What does good look like?”

We designed an end-to-end plan for the future state involving consolidated and streamlined processes and including skills, capabilities, and GCP tools that the organization could apply to every future cloud transformation project it took on.

Even though the technology required for the future state hadn’t been designed yet at the time, we began putting the high-level capabilities into place to ensure a successful adoption as soon as the technology was ready.

In our ongoing work with the client, we’re partnering with HR teams to redesign the organizational structure to make sure the rest of the organization is changing along with the technology. Because that’s what good looks like.

Slalom introduced us to a collaborative approach to our cloud adoption journey by shining light on the importance of listening, adapting, and pivoting together the entire way.

Associate Director, Cloud Business Office

Navigating complexity

In total, the team we helped prepare 15 waves of workloads that needed to be migrated—that’s a lot, for one data center. Our challenge was to understand which people and processes were affected from one wave to the next, to keep open communication with the technical teams, and to make sure people were trained before their workloads got affected.

We pivoted and adjusted our approach over and over, to make sure we prepared the client successfully at each stage. And we’re proud of the feedback we received: the people we interacted with said they appreciated that we cared about them as people first and committed to their readiness and success.

One of our greatest successes in this project was our decision to get to know people early on. When we hit challenges, as we inevitably do in a complex project, the camaraderie we established helped all of us work better together.

A united front with Google

We came into the project as Google’s partner, and there was a certain amount of gray area throughout the process as to what was in Google’s scope and what was in ours. But we were committed from the beginning to acting as one team, which is a major piece of the success of our partnership.

Our team and Google’s worked hard to achieve a seamless partnership that centered the client experience, and we’re proud that this project has become a model for how we’ll go to market with a partner in the future and deliver results together.

We’re relying on our partners to gain expertise in this area of work, and we’re so thankful for Slalom’s flexibility and partnership with us on this journey.

Digital Transformation Practice Leader

Teaching the client to fish

From the moment we started, the client and Google saw us as strategic partners who could help them do something they didn’t know how to do and trusted us to help them do it in the best way possible. We aim to help our clients solve their hardest problems and meet their strategic goals, and ultimately to make sure they can operate without us.

Our goal was to hand off everything the client needed to run the data center on their own, and we did. Instead of creating a situation where the client would rely on us for years into the future, we positioned ourselves as a support resource for this project and moved on to help them with their next one.

Let’s solve together.