As part of our ongoing series on migrating your data to the cloud – secure, cloud based repository for your data that is protected and managed by professionals – today we talk about tips for cloud migration specific to nonprofits. Have questions about the cloud? Check out our Cloud FAQs and the first blog in this series, “The Risks of Not Moving to a Cloud Deployment”, to get up to speed.
Your data isn’t just a reflection of your current benefit to your communities, but of how your organization contributes to their development in the long term. When protecting that data securely in the cloud, you provide for that future by making the best possible choices before and during cloud migration. Moving your data to the cloud shouldn’t be a hassle – it frees up your time and energy to focus on the work your organization is meant to do. As one of our partners, Janice Gerbrandt, Director of Corporate Services at Rehoboth Christian Ministries, put it:
“Cloud is headache-free. We don’t have to worry about it. We’re not IT people, we’re here to support people with developmental disabilities and the cloud solution lets us focus on that.”
And since you’re not working with the same goals as a for-profit entity, your tools and approach also have to be different. As a non-profit, there are four main steps you need to take to ensure a smooth transition:
Start by finding an expert partner
Right out of the gate you need a partner who fits two criteria:
First, that partner needs to understand your needs as a non-profit. Someone who understands your organization and its mandate, its main challenges, your priorities on multiple fronts, and the system within which you organize, fundraise, and aid your community. And second, that partner also needs to have experience with cloud implementation, and how the technology will effect you and allow your organization to grow.
Use a partner that has experience with both the technical steps for the transition to the cloud, but also with the human implications that come along with such a transition. This transition often brings many changes and uncertainties to users or various solutions that are being replaced and so considering the implications for users and how to engage them and help them get the most out of the solution is equally as critical to the success of the transition, than the technical steps and implications.
Engage your stakeholders
As you seek out that migration partner, ensure that your departments and stakeholders understand the process. For a cloud migration to work seamlessly, all levels of your organization have to be involved. Start by getting buy-in from your top echelons, and then get individual teams on board at key points of the transition. Assuage any fears your internal IT teams may have about the migration as early as possible. Cloud migration doesn’t make them obsolete – it frees up their time by removing the need for them to focus on routine maintenance.
Finance, HR, and Payroll, too, need to understand the new tools you’re giving them. Pre-migration, start educating them on how the changes work, and provide training throughout on new access methods to their data. Get them excited about the possibilities of what the changes can do for them. And communicate clearly to your frontline managers that the change is smooth, and to their benefit. You want them on board as soon as possible so they can reassure their teams in turn.
Understand your risks and be clear on priorities
Understand the type of data that you are tracking and the risks and responsibilities that go along with it. Are you tracking personally identifiable information such as names and personal addresses in employee and vendor files? Perhaps you are tracking medical information related to clients. Theses each carry different implications in differing jurisdictions and must be considered during a cloud migration.
Additionally, because of your non-profit status, data residency is typically also a strong requirement depending on your jurisdiction or board’s rules. At Sparkrock we pair with Microsoft to ensure that your data stays in-country, in local server data centers, so there’s never an issue with your legal status. An added benefit to that pairing is that Microsoft’s products integrate with Office 365 – which is also available as a cloud option. So all your data and software can be run through the same, secure source.
Reliability at reduced expense
Cloud deployments are typically going to be less expensive than on premise perpetual installations when the total cost of ownership and risks around these are considered – a regular annual fee over a higher initial purchase plus ongoing maintenance, and periodic upgrades or re-implementations. But the real benefit to you is that, because cloud is always up to date, it’s more consistent and vastly more reliable than on premises solutions that come with ongoing maintenance requirements, constant hardware upgrades, and a heavy investment of your time and energies.
Migrating your data to cloud storage is always to your benefit because it frees you to focus on your mission. Having a partner in the process who understands both the technology and your organization makes it as smooth and efficient as possible. So talk to us about your unique cloud migration needs, and let Sparkrock buy you some peace of mind.