Tips for Migrating State and Local Government Agencies to the Cloud

The coronavirus pandemic has changed how state and local governments do business, accelerating the need to move to cloud computing. The unseen reality of many government agencies operating in exile has shown the limitations of on-premises servers and data storage

By providing software and Infrastructure as a service, the cloud offers regular updates, transparent maintenance, and a high level of security. Technological environments, such as Microsoft’s Office 365 Government Computing Cloud, provide features and enhancements tailored for public agency users.

Migrating state, county, and municipal departments and their users to the cloud presents unique challenges compared with private sector transitions. Following are some tips for designing and implementing a successful governmental migration.

Plan, Prepare and Repeat for a Seamless Cloud Migration

No two migrations are ever alike and nothing wrecks a migration faster or more thoroughly than overconfidence, making it important to plan carefully and thoroughly.

Key questions include:

  • What will the journey be like for users when they stop using the source?
  • When will they start using the destination?
  • How can the journey be made with minimal to no disruption?
  • How will data be created in the destination?
  • Prepare for and plan to deal with legacy infrastructure,obscure apps that perform critical functions that were built by companies no longer in business.

Test with the Toughest Customers

Avoid the temptation to skimp on real-world testing, especially within government ecosystems. Run alpha and beta pilots to get a perspective on performance and to understand the dependencies of legacy systems.

Also, be sure to pilot with the loudest, most thin-skinned users — If you can make them happy, you have an excellent chance of acing the migration.

Manage Change and Avoid Trouble with Communication and Training

You can move all the data without incident and set up all the apps correctly and think you’re on the way to celebrating another success. But if on day one your help desk is inundated with calls from people asking, “What do I do now?” then you’ve failed on the organizational change side of the equation.

One major challenge is that rolling out sweeping changes to systems and coordinating user training tends to be more difficult in the state and municipal government space than with large or tech-savvy companies.

Clear communication and easy-to-understand training are the keys to enhancing comfort with and acceptance of the migration. Users need to know:

  • Why is the migration taking place?
  • What will be the future state and why is it better?
  • When will the change happen?
  • What disruption, if any, will the migration create in workflow?
  • How can they learn to use the new technology effectively?

Begin with Post-Migration in Mind

The best way to manage post-migration issues is to prepare for them at the beginning of the project. If users move seamlessly within the same systems with identical versions, then you have an advantage. However, if you’re moving from, say, Exchange 2010 and Outlook 2013 to Office Pro Plus and Office 365, you’ll need a plan to deal with the post-migration calls. Build your plan with contingencies, options and deep respect for the human factor, and you’ll greatly improve your chances of completing a successful migration.

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