Running an office can be expensive for any business. Buying licenses for collaboration and communication software can prove expensive, but the regular upheaval of updating and maintaining software (adding patches and updates, etc.) can add a significant number of hidden costs to your office budget. Thankfully, there are a number of cloud-based solutions such as Google Apps and Office 365 (amongst others) that do the 'heavy lifting' for you. All you do is pay your subscription, and they make sure you have the latest software at your disposal.
Obviously, for cash strapped businesses, that is an enticing prospect, but making the decision to migrate to a cloud-based solution is often put off – simply because of the complexity of weaning staff members off their beloved computer-based solutions. With some consideration, that complexity can be negated. Here are a few suggestions on a successful transition.
If you are going to make the change, ensure everyone is onboard – there is no point one department still using Outlook 97, etc. while everyone else is in the cloud. This means getting the people in power on board first. It is surprising how quickly people can be brought on board if the executive team issue an executive decree! Ideally, that executive decree will be a soft sell that would also give the team insights into the benefits of the switch both for the company and for individuals. Alongside that, it should provide a date when the migration will have to be completed, and where possible, a timeline that offers important milestones and dates for their completion.
Obviously, with the introduction of any new company system, training is going to be key to successful adoption. This is where Office 365 has so many advantages over other solutions currently available on the market. For decades Microsoft has been the technology which has driven the smallest companies and the largest corporations. As a result, people know the Microsoft interface at a molecular level, and often moving to solution which is not driven by Microsoft is going to mean constant references to the functions provided by Microsoft's ubiquitous suite. This is not a pitch for Microsoft though – just be aware of what might be involved in any transition.
As far as training is concerned, your approach might depend on your budget, but Google Apps has Hangouts, and Microsoft Skype. Having an 'expert' online that people can contact from their workstations when they have queries regarding how to do something might be sage.
Possibly the most important aspect of any successful transition is going to be a successful replication of your office infrastructure. This is going to take a lot of 'spadework', but it absolutely necessary. If the accounting department is used to accessing specific folders from the company server, they have to be able to replicate the process using a cloud solution. This might mean a painstaking review (and documentation – if no documentation exists) of your information architecture, and an equally painstaking effort to ensure that structures that appeared on the server now appear in the cloud.
The effort is definitely going to be worth the effort though. With access to the bells and whistles Google Apps, Office 365, or any other cloud-based solution offers, you will find that even the staff that were most resilient to the change begin to make suggestions on how to use the new cloud-based tools they have been given to make the company more efficient and improve productivity. You will find that once the change has been made, staff will embrace the technology as they realise it makes it easier for them to help the company's successful.