The Top 5 Pitfalls of Cloud Migration — And How to Avoid Them

Top 5 Pitfalls of Cloud Migration—And How to Avoid Them

If your company is like most, you’ve dabbled in cloud for a while now. You may be using one or two SaaS applications, such as CRM and accounting.

But you’re not getting as much out of it as you could be. That can be frustrating, especially as you’re seeing other companies taking off and getting ahead, seeing big business gains and strategic wins by breaking down silos and innovating on a dime.

How can your company start enjoying these benefits of cloud transformation? The only way to catch up is to take the plunge and begin migrating your business processes into the cloud

But you’re also well aware that many cloud migration projects fail—up to 74%, according to one study, which defined “failure” as having to move business applications back out of cloud and onto company-owned infrastructure.

You don’t want to be part of that statistic. So how can you protect yourself, avoid cloud risk, and steer clear of the most common mistakes? In this post, we’ll take a quick look at 5 of the biggest pitfalls of cloud migration. You’ll find out why even smart companies make these major mistakes and then discover how to protect yourself.

 1. Lack of C-Level Buy-In

Let’s be honest: Without buy-in from the upper echelons, it’s tough getting any big project off the ground.

But to overcome objections, it’s very important to understand the mindset of individuals at this level. They’re not necessarily opposed to cloud; they may actually believe you are already using cloud. And they’re probably right—so you’ll have to communicate exactly what the difference is between using one or two cloud applications and a full, company-wide cloud migration.

They may also have issues with budgeting for cloud adoption based on the mistaken belief that cloud is free, open-source, or easy to implement—none of which is true.

Yet buy-in at this level is essential, so you’ll need to overcome that resistance to make the transition possible. Why do projects fail due to lack of support?

  • Without a reasonable budget, departments are on their own.
  • Cloud adoption takes place in “affordable” chunks that fly under the budget radar, but with no overall plan, strategy, or sense of unity.
  • Some departments may transition to cloud while others don’t, creating inefficiencies.
  • Cloud transformation isn’t tied to business goals, so it could be unfunded as priorities shift.

For all these reasons, and to build understanding and buy-in, it’s important to work with C-level, mapping out the entire project and anchoring it to solid business objectives, deliverables, and KPIs for accountability.

TIP: Present the project in terms of ROI and gains in efficiencies and you’ll be well on your way to persuading your company’s leadership.

2. Biting Off More Than You Can Chew

Some businesses have the opposite problem: too much C-level buy-in. How can that be a problem? Executives who are overly enthusiastic about cloud often decide to make too great a leap in too short a time.

Going from zero to a hundred overnight is never a good idea when adopting anything new. All quality transitions take time. Cloud is no exception, even if there are cloud-based versions of everything these days.

Rushing in without a transition plan generally takes what’s known as a “lift-and-shift” approach. This means you’re taking all your old processes and simply “translating” them into cloud versions.

If you don’t take the time before the transition to reevaluate your workflows and processes, you’re simply recreating existing processes in the cloud. And that includes recreating inefficiencies that you’d be much better off without! Plus, you’ll be taking on a massive project, most likely with staff who are untrained and unready to take over with new, cloud-based tools and services.

With too much enthusiasm, biting off more than you can chew, you probably won’t reap the promised efficiencies of cloud, and the odds of successful cloud transition fall steeply.

It’s far better to take things a little slower and plan the process carefully, upskilling employees where necessary, to make sure everyone’s ready when you do make the transition.

TIP: Get all stakeholders together, working to spot inefficiencies and reinvent workflows wherever you can.

3. Lack of Leadership

Many cloud migration projects go off the rails because, simply put, nobody’s in charge. In this case, we’re not talking about the C-level, but rather about actual leadership on the ground. Whether it’s a single point person or an interdisciplinary team, it helps to have one place where you can say “the buck stops here.”

This person or team can provide reporting and accountability to all levels. They can also:

  • Communicate to employees what’s going on
  • Describe expectations going forward (such as meeting training goals)
  • Serve as a listening ear to team member needs and requests
  • Ensure data is collected to track essential metrics early on

With the clear sense of leadership and motivation this leadership provides, the project is far more likely to succeed.

TIP: The point person or transition team lead may have unique cloud training needs to handle this complex facilitation role.

4. Assuming Staff Already Have the Skills

In many ways, cloud services have been designed for ease of use and integration. However, that doesn’t mean your team can just hit the ground running.

Lack of skills among team members is a major reason for delays in cloud migration of up to two years, according to Gartner. While lift and shift might help bypass this problem temporarily, Gartner says, “lift-and-shift projects do not develop native-cloud skills,” which will be more and more necessary over the longer term.

Cloud transition inevitably demands new tools and new adaptations to existing processes. That will take training, and it may take time.

This is absolutely not the place to cut corners. As you put a plan in place for cloud transition, be sure you are upskilling your team at the same time. Determine exactly which aspects/types of training are necessary for which employees:

  • Based on their role descriptions
  • Based on the organization’s needs

Some companies wonder whether it is more cost-effective to bring on qualified cloud personnel with the requisite skills rather than upskilling current employees. Given the high cost of new hires, along with the fact that all employees are going to need some training in the new tools and services, it is usually more affordable to provide appropriate skills training. That is especially true with tools to streamline, simplify, and automate your training programs. 

TIP: Employees are more likely to respond positively if they are given clear and logical training expectations.

5. Failure to Adequately Plan for Security

The security piece of the cloud transition can be tricky to manage because many organizations don’t realize they have a problem—until it’s too late.

Often, an organization is left vulnerable because IT processes aren’t transitioned, but simply lifted and shifted. Fortunately, some of the steps mentioned above will help prevent this pitfall. For instance, having a single point of responsibility (whether an individual or a group) for the transition as a whole will help make sure that sensitive data and assets can’t fall through the cracks.

Providing your team with cloud training—appropriate to their role and responsibilities—can also ensure that they understand new cloud-based tools and environments and can configure them securely. For example, familiarity with cloud computing security best practices, such as CISSP certification, is highly recommended for members of your security team.

Gaps in cloud security are invisible, and they’re easy to neglect in the excitement of the transition to the cloud. But failure to plan can cancel out cloud savings in the long run, so plan wisely ahead of time.

TIP: Choose tools during your cloud migration that will give you the greatest possible visibility into your cloud-based assets and security.

Get Started on Your Journey

The journey to the cloud can be complex. As we’ve seen here, there are many potential cloud pitfalls. Failure isn’t just theoretical—it happens every day. Many companies make the transition and then discover that they have to backpedal because their team simply can’t make the promise of cloud a reality.

That doesn’t have to be you. And the transition doesn’t have to be chaos and calamity. All it takes is thorough advance planning. That’s why we’ve put together a complete guide to help you plan for success at every single stage of your journey to the cloud.

Journey to the Cloud: A Guide for Enterprise Cloud Transformation walks you step-by-step through the cloud transformation of a typical 10,000-person financial-services enterprise so you can see how the principles we’ve mentioned here, and many more, come together in real life.

You’ll discover:

  • The five stages of the journey
  • The four cloud competencies your team must have
  • Essential metrics to define and measure success
  • …and much more

Download the white paper today.

Feature Photo Credit @kwinkunks (

Cloud Academy