Delivering Cloud Transformation Excellence: Collaboration, Communication and Governance - Part 6

By:   |   Updated: 2022-09-01   |   Comments   |   Related: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | > Cloud Strategy


Problem

Cloud transformation projects fail to deliver on their promise of excellence for several reasons. The need for collaboration, regular communication, and governance processes such as monitoring and control are key factors for achieving success on projects. Customers, vendors, project management teams, and leadership personas are all interested in obtaining recommendations and tips for establishing, enhancing, and empowering collaboration, communication, and governance on Cloud Transformation projects.

Solution

Collaboration and crisp communication is key to the success of a project. In the 'Digital Age,' there have been many socialization channels to enhance communication and collaboration. Communication Platforms such as Microsoft Teams, WebEx, and others support the crisp collaboration, productivity, and handoff of geographically dispersed remote workforces that are engaged in project tasks. In addition to enhancing communication, these platforms frequently serve as document repositories where team members can collaborate on work-in-progress tasks. Other collaboration platforms such as Azure DevOps or Jenkins further help with collaboration by empowering team members to take ownership of their assigned tasks by estimating the effort, adding relevant notes and documentation, and tracking their progress to completing the assigned tasks. This type of well-planned and administered collaboration breeds communication between team members, customers, and vendors while instilling a sense of trust.

As a transformational project takes flight, it will require governance in the form of monitoring and control to ensure it stays on track during the timeline while achieving milestones and mitigating risks. Processes to monitor and control the project will help with avoiding and mitigating this risk strategically and tactically. Metrics around 'planned vs. actual' deliverables help, just like value gained and rate of defect fixes help with improving quality and applying training to prevent similar issues from occurring again. This article will cover tips on establishing, enhancing, and empowering collaboration, communication, and governance on Cloud Transformation projects.

Collaboration & Communication

Clear and timely communication and collaboration enhance trust. In addition to communicating and collaborating through the course of the project's planned deliverables, it also helps to foster this sort of collaboration and communication during the pre-sales process by walking a customer through the scope, schedule, effort, and cost within the statement of work (SOW), which will help with promoting mutual understanding to foster collaboration and trust for the project's success. It is always better to over-communicate to ensure alignment and success at all stages of the project. For example, the following list outlines the collaboration and communication plan that can be shared with the team, customer, and stakeholders to ensure alignment around expectations for planned meetings, communication frequencies, and collaboration platforms for excellence. To drive meetings to desired outcomes, always outline an intended agenda.

Meetings

  • Daily Scrums (15 mins)
  • Sprint Planning (1 hour), Backlog refinement (30 min), Iteration retro, and Sprint review (1 hour)
  • Weekly project status meeting (30 minutes)
  • Steering committee meetings if/as needed for escalation, guidance, and approval

Communication & Collaboration

  • MS Teams for Project site, collaboration, and documents repository
  • Azure DevOps for Project artifact, backlog, and in-flight story tracking
  • Meetings through Microsoft Teams
  • Weekly Invoice delivered by Vendor to Customer
  • Weekly Project Status Report

As a parting note for this section, let us look at a sample 'Stoplight' project status report template. Transformational cloud projects frequently use a variation of this to communicate project status to stakeholders on a weekly basis. Any potential risks or blockers will be clearly identified, leading to a mitigation plan. Other variations of additions to this reporting template may include the percentage completed for each high-level deliverable as part of milestones within the timeline. These reporting templates are intended to clearly and frequently communicate the project's status to ensure that all stakeholders are on the same page every step of the way.

Sample Project status report

Monitoring & Control

Scorecard metrics can serve as supplemental guides to support leadership's understanding and decision-making process. While scorecards are valuable, they are not meant to be an all-inclusive guide to evaluating the health of a project since discretion is always needed by using human interaction, judgment, emotions, and more to interpret the status and health of projects truly. Also, all projects will not necessarily fit into the same scorecard, so there may need to be different metrics for different scenarios. To truly deliver excellence, these scorecards need to be strategically evaluated and evolved to stay relevant and continue to be a trusted evaluator of delivery excellence.

These trusted scorecards typically measure excellence in delivery around customer satisfaction, resources, schedule, scope, quality, budget, limited technology constraints, and impact on the business. Customers usually define the quality of the deliverable, which is why constant communication and collaboration with the customer are key. Customer satisfaction surveys are great ways to gain insights and feedback directly from the customer. It would help with gaining uncovering and fixing bottlenecks and brings to light the general satisfaction around the project. In addition to a general survey, it also helps to include a general open-ended feedback intake field that captures the candid voice of the customer.

In addition to customer satisfaction, metrics related to team member performance can also be measured through the course of the project. By empowering cultures of innovation and excellence through regular check-ins, employees will be motivated to overachieve and maintain their mental health. Successful leaders take the initiative to reward employees for great work because of consistent feedback loops rather than Bell Curve-based performance appraisals which fosters internal competition and often leads to the opposite effect for optimal levels of mental health. Team members that are overloaded will lose motivation, which is why it pays dividends to not only motivate but also break out larger tasks into smaller ones that require sequential rather than parallel execution. This will help with ensuring that team members are both effective and efficient.

Metrics around the cost, quality, scope, and timeliness of deliverables can also be measured, and risks can be mitigated as they are uncovered. As part of a good governance process, it would be helpful to identify, socialize, and clearly document management processes around change, client interaction, exception handling, and training. As the project reaches closure at some point in time, it will be critical to have a sound plan around documenting and transitioning the solution to those who will be maintaining it going forward. The goal of a well-implemented Cloud Transformational solution is to have it be maintained by the customer; therefore, appropriate transition, training, and documentation must be provided to ensure the customer has the appropriate subject matter expertise to take ownership of the solution going forward.

Summary

In this 6-part series on 'Delivering Cloud Transformation Excellence,' you learned about the importance of delivering excellence on projects by identifying the need for Centers of Excellence (CoE), Cultures of Innovation, and a Data Strategy. You also learned how to clearly define, plan, and prioritize project scope, schedule, timelines and deliverables, milestones, and roadmaps through sound requirements envisioning and project management initiation and planning initiatives. This includes accurately forecasting resources and budget, assessing and managing project risks effectively through weekly status reports, governance meetings, risk assessment frameworks, project ratings and delivery excellence scorecards, milestone reviews, and more.

Other factors of delivery excellence include people's health, client participation, and high-quality deliverables. Prioritizing the health and satisfaction of the team and stakeholders is critical at every step along the way. Additionally, defining client responsibilities and deliverables to ensure and empower customer participation is also very important for the success of a project. Championing Quality assurance testing, code reviews, and governance go a long way to ensure success and satisfaction at every milestone.

Project challenges can arise in many forms, including limited buy-in and support from business stakeholders, which can be resolved through active participation. Other challenges might include unsupportive vendors, limited in-house or consultant skills, lack of stakeholder ownership, limited budget due to previous failure and microscopic management, limited time for knowledge transfer, lack of experience on project expectations, geographically skewed onshore-offshore teams, vendor-customer friction, show-stopping dependencies, and more. The tips and guidance for success shared in this article series will help prevent, minimize, and mitigate many of these issues and risks. However, it is equally important to point out that sometimes the risks may remain or escalate beyond control. If such scenarios arise, it will be important to closely evaluate the value added to the vendor and customer. While it is a worst-case scenario to leave an engagement, it may be worth considering to prevent relationships from souring further. Again, this may be a worst-case scenario. It is always best to notice any potential warning signs early to act sooner than later, which will lead to fruitful relationships, cultures of innovation, and delivery excellence. Once you achieve success with your Cloud Transformation project, spend time on retrospective sessions to outline success through case studies. This process will help further benchmark what worked well and what could be improved as you continue the relentless cycle to strive for delivery excellence in future endeavors.

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About the author
MSSQLTips author Ron L'Esteve Ron L'Esteve is a seasoned Data Architect who holds an MBA and MSF. Ron has over 15 years of consulting experience with Microsoft Business Intelligence, data engineering, emerging cloud and big data technologies.

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Article Last Updated: 2022-09-01

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