Leading the Way Through a Large-Scale Cloud Migration
What does it take for a large organization to pull off a cloud voice migration project involving dozens of sites, such as the initiative I oversaw last year for a Fortune 500 company? I’d say that it takes leadership, teamwork, and experience.
Nothing can replace experience. But it’s not just any experience -- it’s the right type of experience.
You probably wouldn’t want to hire a C++ coder to lead your voice migrations. Instead, you’d want to make certain your candidate has experience coordinating with multiple carriers, working MAC tickets, plotting return on investment, managing vendors, writing technical documents, and handling helpdesk tickets from end users. You’d also want someone who is articulate and patient, but motivated, too. And on the flip side, you’d do well to avoid an introvert. There are times when you’re going to need team members to pick up the phone and call a few strangers.
These requirements may seem like a lot, but participating in a project of any magnitude will demand all of them.
Over many years, I’ve seen teamwork either devolve into drama-filled soap operas or evolve into well- oiled machines. I believe the human spirit is highly influenced by leaders. Dragging people down is easy, but lifting people up doesn’t require much more effort or skill.
We all know that motivation and positivity are important, so I won’t preach about that. Where I sometimes find teamwork lacking is between departments. For instance, if the telecommunications and network engineering departments aren’t in alignment, teamwork will suffer. If this is the case, the blame lies squarely on upper management, not the team members. The technology from both departments are married together as one and must operate as a cohesive force. If there’s a rift between these department heads at your organization, don’t launch a large-scale VoIP enterprise project.
A good leader is as precious as a gold nugget. Good leaders are able to adapt to various audiences, motivate reluctant participants, articulate clearly (and sometimes redundantly with patience), be flexible, delegate and trust, see potential trouble coming, and understand strategy and see the big picture. And, perhaps more important than anything else, a good leader leads by example -- and works harder than anyone else.
The ideal person to lead a large, multisite company migration to cloud-based voice isn’t a project manager. This isn’t a project that can be broken down into tasks and assigned to various groups, because cloud-based voice service isn’t the sum of its parts. Cloud-based VoIP is more like a total solution with a life of its own that can be molded into different shapes and forms to meet the needs of an enterprise.
The ideal candidate to lead an endeavor of this scope should have years of IT experience, ideally in both voice and data. This person should be humble. Capable of listening to the troops, energetic and motivated enough to get dirty and work in the trenches, and able to identify the team’s strengths and weaknesses. This leader will hold others accountable, give direction with confidence, articulate enough to present to all types of audiences, and persist in seeing the process to completion. This person will also remain close to the business to ensure the solution is the right fit and remains fiscally sound.
The key to finding someone with the traits I’ve listed is to identify someone who has passion and excitement about cloud voice migration and wants to teach others how to navigate a large project like this successfully. If you can find someone who wants to mentor others, you probably have found a leader for your team.
This is the final post in this four-part series. For my earlier posts, see:
- How I Upgraded 50 Facilities to Cloud-Based Voice
- 1 Year, 50 Sites: Lessons Learned in Cloud VoIP Project
- Cloud VoIP: Look for Unintended Benefits
Attend Enterprise Connect the week of March 18 in Orlando, Fla., for more advice on navigating cloud migrations. Check out the conference program here, and register now using the code NJPOSTS to save $200 off the cost of attendance.