Maryvonne Hassall: next stop the cloud

It appears that many councils are still reluctant adopters of cloud solutions. Recent research* has shown that only 38% of councils have a policy governing the deployment of software as a service (SaaS) and cloud infrastructure and less than half have developed a strategy for the use of cloud.  But why is this?  Outside of work we use cloud solutions daily yet there remains a reluctance for councils to make the move. Or perhaps more serious than this by failing to have a strategy cloud solutions are being implemented ad hoc.

AVDC started its cloud first strategy in 2010 and we are now 100% cloud.  It’s a cliché but it was a journey and it took time.  When we started many of the systems we used didn’t even have a cloud version.  Here are our top 10 tips for approaching the cultural and the technological shift required for a successful move to the cloud.

  1. Leadership – It is essential that the leadership team is driving digital change. Sponsorship at the highest level is required, a director or senior manager on the board should be responsible for digital.
  2. Decide what you want to do first, that is write your strategy before looking at how to do it. The solutions will be there (or coming soon).
  3. And determine your own path – learn from others but don’t simply follow and don’t take what the technology companies tell you for granted.
  4. Agree your principles – these should underpin the strategy so the technology can move the strategy forward. In our case this was our cloud first strategy which all solutions were judged against.  This meant if there wasn’t a cloud option we had to consider how else we could move towards our goal.
  5. Consider risk but don’t avoid making a decision by using risk as an excuse. Risks can be mitigated or managed.
  6. Be honest with people – how things are done will change/jobs go but there is the opportunity for technology to take on the repeatable, less value adding parts of a role and free up staff to do more interesting work. That leads on to number 7…
  7. Communicate, communicate, communicate – with your members, your customers (residents and businesses), your staff. We presented to members, held customer focus groups, ran surveys and completed internal workshops and training sessions to answer questions, address concerns and prepare the way.
  8. Identify your key challenges – although approaching the “low hanging fruit” first can deliver quicks wins how about tackling a really tough one first to prove it can be done? We were told cloud printing couldn’t be done when we started the project, but we did it!
  9. Break down the challenge – we had and continue to have a three stream approach. This allows us to use agile principles and show progress and results along the way rather than having to wait for a “big bang”.
  10. Always have an eye on the future – the technology world moves fast so there is no catching up. Be flexible, ready to change course and constantly push to be better.

Maryvonne Hassall is the Director of Digital at Aylesbury Vale District Council, and will be speaking on how you can effectively manage your data to the cloud at the Public Sector Show Manchester on 20 November. To register or find out more, please click here.