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How to Overcome IT Resistance to Cloud Adoption

By Rich Murr, Chief Information Officer | Epicor Software | November 12, 2019

The business benefits of cloud solutions are well established, but that doesn’t mean everyone is open to the changes that the cloud will bring. In fact, one of the teams that’s instrumental in driving cloud adoption—and that can benefit the most from a transition to the cloud—can also be the most resistant. Believe it or not, it’s your Information Technology (IT) team.

If you’re a business leader serious about leveraging cloud solutions—and you should be—how do you transform an IT team that’s lukewarm about the cloud into a strong supporter? Start by recognizing that the move to the cloud isn’t just a significant technology change. It’s also a significant change for IT employees. Then, follow these seven steps to improve your chances of getting the IT team on board:

1. Create a Healthy Sense of Urgency

Sometimes a top-down call to action is exactly what’s needed to shake off any inertia and align your company on a goal. Use your storytelling skills to articulate why your company needs to move to the cloud. Share how the features and functionality that cloud solutions provide will help you compete against and beat your competitors. Convey how the cloud will help you better secure your company’s and customers’ data, so you can avoid becoming hostages of ransomware hackers. And share how more modern technologies can help you attract and retain the top talent your company needs to thrive—including IT experts.

2. Acknowledge It’s a Big Change

The cloud will change the way your IT team has worked for many years. Don’t gloss over it. Acknowledge it. Show them that you understand the magnitude of the change and the impact it will have on your IT employees.

3. Leverage Your Active Listening Skills

Spend time with your IT employees and listen to their questions and concerns. Here are some examples of what you might hear:

  • “Cloud providers won’t understand how unique and complicated our business is.”
  • “Putting our data in the cloud is way too risky.”
  • “Our compliance regulations won’t allow us to use the cloud.”
  • “What will my job be after we move to the cloud?”

Take notes, repeat back what you heard, and know that you don’t need to provide answers on the spot—just commit to following up. Active listening and showing genuine interest are arguably the best things you can do to alleviate concerns. Active listening and showing genuine interest are arguably the best things you can do to alleviate concerns.

4. Get Help Addressing the Concerns and Answering Questions

IT can often raise concerns that might seem like scary roadblocks, but in most cases, they’re not trying to scare you. They just know they’ll be the ones spending long nights and weekends dealing with any technology challenges that are created. If you’re not equipped to answer these questions yourself, find a trusted vendor to help you credibly answer and educate the IT team.

5. Learn From Those Who Went Before You

At this point, you won’t be the first company in your industry to move to the cloud—or even the second, third, or fourth. Learn from and leverage the experiences of your industry counterparts. Your technology vendor can connect you with reference customers that can share their learnings. Sometimes, there’s value in being a follower.

6. Make It Clear What the IT Team Will Look Like After the Move

This could arguably be moved to the top of the list. IT teams often have the best view of a company’s business processes and how data and customers “move” through the organization. When they’re freed from troubleshooting systems, they can work on cross-functional business process improvements, help users leverage technology more effectively, and assist with cleaning and maintaining data. And while the nature of the technology work may change, development, configuration, and break/fix work will still exist—along with the need to manage cloud vendors. Help your IT employees understand the tremendous technology and business value they can still provide after the move.

7. Create and Execute a Plan

There are many offramps on the way to the cloud, and without a thoughtfully crafted and carefully executed plan, you may find yourself frequently veering off course. At each stage of your journey, ensure your IT team members have clear roles and that they are equipped for success.

Above all, remember to keep a team mentality. Throughout the transition to the cloud, make sure you consistently offer support, provide assistance or advice when necessary, and celebrate the little victories that bring your team closer to the finish line of full cloud adoption.

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