Cloud Champions could account for 80% of the success of your digital transformation programme. The truth is, you cannot have a successful digital transformation programme without a great strategy and great champions. Missing either one will cause it to fail.
If a firm is keen to progress forward into utilising cloud products, you need people that will help communicate this message through the firm, supporting both colleagues and clients on this journey. They are a focal point for support and clarity on what works and doesn’t work, as well as the overall strategy.
Defining the role of a Cloud Champion
A cloud champion is someone that is passionate about the benefits cloud technology can bring to businesses. They advocate not just the software but also the way the software can improve a client experience and relationship. They need skills in communication, project management and accountancy, as well as a strong personality. Their purpose is to convince colleagues and clients of the benefits of cloud and explain the best ways of utilising the various cloud products. They also ensure work gets done by setting goals and being held accountable against those.
Cloud Champions need to set or understand and embrace the firm’s strategy. Transition needs a story to underpin it. Why are we doing this and what benefits will it bring? They also need to understand their role and objectives. Some champions set the strategy, some have specific projects with one piece of technology, and some are all about engaging with the wider team to help them transition. Some do all these things.
A Cloud Champion has an immediate impact on a firm’s digital transformation programme. They assist with communication, as messages can spread more easily and clarity can be provided where misunderstandings occurred. The longer term effect is speed of traction. Having dedicated people helps push things along faster and speeds up buy-in from those that are unsure about transition. A key skill of a Cloud Champion is finding what the pain point of the individual members of staff is and showing them how cloud can solve that.
A Champion of Champions
How many Cloud Champions do you need? Although firm size does affect this, I believe structure affects it more. A firm with multiple offices and departments will need more champions than one that is centralised with a core service. This is because the team will have a stronger connection with people that they know and this is more likely on a centralised system. The firm size should be measured by staff that will be affected – some firms have departments that won’t be affected in the same way and can therefore be discounted. That said, it does grow with size and I would estimate that a 1:20 ratio can be effective.
Passion, geekiness and time are key
A Cloud Champion is a natural leader. If the firm is big enough to need more than one cloud champion, then you need someone who will lead that group, like a champion of champions. This person shouldn’t necessarily be elected but should fall into the role based on their impact in the group. Don’t dictate too much to the champions. These people are passionate and knowledgeable in their field. They should help set the path and be guided more than led.
Your champions need to be geeky with tech. If they are not passionate about it, then both communication and delivery will falter. They also need to have good project and time management skills, as they will likely be juggling two roles, that of their day job and the cloud strategy. But time is key. They need to have some of their time freed up to deliver on this project, as it can be intensive at times.
Staff training is not a one-off piece of work
If training staff from scratch, a Cloud Champion can train them on one piece of software at a time. But training shouldn’t be a one-off piece of work, it should be continuous. The software changes and people forget or find workarounds that aren’t best practice. And when it becomes continuous, you might end up training staff on different softwares simultaneously.
You need persistence and adaptation. At times there will be huge frustration but the key is to accept and expect that. The frustration you are feeling will be the same that the people you are working with are feeling, just from a different perspective.
About Ryan Pearcy
Ryan Pearcy is a Business Advisory Director Cloud Champion at 100-year old accounting firm Scrutton Bland. The firm has always been good at adapting to change through the years, particularly recognising the the advent of digital tech. Ryan’s passion for streamlining processes and implementing new apps has driven Scrutton Bland’s digital transformation agenda, helping them price and develop new advisory services.