Small Steps & Giant Leaps

Curtis Franklin Jr., Executive Editor | 1/25/2013 | 47 comments

Curtis Franklin Jr.
How much changes in a migration? It's a fair question that can have a number of different answers. Your answer will set the tone for your entire migration experience.

The simplest answer might be that your organization is going to change one thing -- the client operating system, for example. The problem with that answer is that, as we've heard in an E2 Radio program, migrating a client operating system can mean touching over 15,000 individual pieces of software. Given that, the idea of intentionally migrating applications along with the operating system can seem like the sort of move guaranteed that no employee will get to sleep at home ever again.

Despite the potential problems, there are companies that take a "move it all" approach to migration, figuring that, as long as you're blowing up the infrastructure, blowing up the apps can cause only so much additional carnage.

One potential application migration some are considering is a switch from traditional hosted productivity applications (word processing, spreadsheets, and the like) to a cloud-based model. Imagine, for example, taking the opportunity to move away from desktop licenses of Microsoft Office to Office Web Apps. There are pricing and functionality trade-offs to be considered with the switch, but if such a thing is considered, why stop at the single Office possibility?

Once moving away from the desktop office productivity suite is brought into the mix, why not consider moving to a whole host of online suites operated by Microsoft, Google, or others? The argument could be made, in an online suite's case, that a cloud-based application better fits into the model of the mobile, BYOD-friendly modern enterprise. Furthermore, it might even be argued that moving away from client-hosted applications makes operating system migration less painful, since there is less opportunity for unexpected interactions between application code and the new OS.

Most significant in the "problem" list is the change in user interface. Let's not be coy, here: When changing operating environments, any shift in user interface -- no matter how minor -- is going to carry significant support and training costs. When you change both the basic operating system and critical applications from an interface point of view, you dramatically increase the likelihood that, for some portion of the employee base, productive work will come to a screeching halt and take days, if not weeks, to recover.

On the other hand, changing one major interface will also create a hit on productivity, so you can argue that additional changes cause only a bit more harm, and cause it one time rather than the two or more interruptions that a staged or staggered migration strategy can bring. In either of these cases, you might be right.

So, which do you think: One giant paroxysm of change and disruption, or a multi-stage approach to (what we hope to be) smaller disruptions? Companies will often like the logic of the latter, but I suspect there are problems with this approach -- problems that can mean lower productivity for a longer time than comes with the single-change approach. What do you think? I'd love to discuss it with you and see just what your appetite for change truly is.

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tekedge   Small Steps & Giant Leaps   2/19/2013 8:59:24 PM
Small steps or Giant leaps
I think it depends how much the change is going to affect the end user! I am for small steps instead of giant leaps so that the change can be integrated seamlessly and even if we hit a road block the whole system does not crash!
MDMConsult   Small Steps & Giant Leaps   2/4/2013 12:37:13 PM
Re: Take the giant leap
Agreed or a more phased approach to structure migration more carefully. Considering the community and IT departments a business case would be helpful in these type of migrations. Having a plan and being prepared for any time consuming or organization rollbacks is critical to executing migration successfuly. Once the business case has been made, organisations can consider issues and address tools, suggest best bractices for users who are included in these processes.
KeithGrinsted   Small Steps & Giant Leaps   2/3/2013 3:44:32 PM
Re: Take the giant leap
@David& @Curtis several points you make.  Love the one about the dial tone - I've encountered similar issues before where you can change whatever you like but you cannot affect the customer experience.

I had a CEO once who was very influenced by what he saw on TV and in newspaper ads.  If he had not seen a product advertised then I could not go out and buy it!!

The word 'disruption' has been used a lot in this discussion and generally in a negative way.  The meaning in Wikipedia is - Disruption is an event which causes an "unplanned, negative deviation from the expected delivery ... according to the organization's objectives."

But also in Wiktionary as - An interruption to the regular flow or sequence of something.

The first has negative connotations the second is more neutral.

If you disrupt a fuel leak then that is positive.  If you disrupt an attempt to hack in to your systems that is positive.  If you disrupt a negative happening then that becomes a positive.

Rather than focus on the negative people need to recognise that disruption causes reassessment and can lead to the learning of new lessons that can be applied to the future.

 
KeithGrinsted   Small Steps & Giant Leaps   2/3/2013 4:09:22 AM
Re: Take the giant leap
@Curtis That is a very good point that backs up my one step at a time view.

And one I had not considered.

Yes, we are all getting used to constant changes, iterations, of programmes, apps, etc..

So the user is definitely ahead of the curve.  I wonder also if because of this we are also less capable of dealing with big change steps?

Emotionally and psychologically we probably deal with smaller steps much better than big ones that require greater adaption.
KeithGrinsted   Small Steps & Giant Leaps   2/3/2013 4:01:19 AM
Re: Take the giant leap
@Salik I agree entirely.

They say a marathon is run one step at a time after all.

It gives you time to reassess the direction you are heading in.

I have often found that partway through a project there are some redefinitions of what can be achieved when you see the effect certain changes have made.

You can often find that the outcomes taking the step by step process exceed what your initial expectations were.
soozyg   Small Steps & Giant Leaps   2/1/2013 8:26:07 PM
Re: Take the giant leap
...but nothing comes close to an OS or set of apps that's going to sit on tens of thousands of desktops....

I get that a total overhaul can be overwhelming. Isn't it just as challenging, just in another way, if one department decided to change its systems? The synching with other departments would be a huge headache--and would still effect that many systems, I would think.
Joe Stanganelli   Small Steps & Giant Leaps   2/1/2013 4:50:22 PM
Re: Take the giant leap
...or, for that matter, the livid customer who tracks down the CEO and tells him about the broken thing.
David Wagner   Small Steps & Giant Leaps   1/29/2013 12:24:55 AM
Re: Take the giant leap
@Curt- Unless you've got one of those CEO's who always thinks that thing is broken and then you're just out of luck. :)
CurtisFranklin   Small Steps & Giant Leaps   1/29/2013 12:20:23 AM
Re: Take the giant leap
You know, @Dave, I don't think it's possible to over-estimate the importance of the CEO Test. If it breaks for the CEO, it doesn't really matter whether it works for anyone else in the organization!
CurtisFranklin   Small Steps & Giant Leaps   1/28/2013 11:57:19 PM
Re: A multi-stage approach
You know, @Taimoor, that whole issue of "trust" is one that we haven't talked about very much in this conversation, but it really is critical, isn't it? I wonder whether there is a level of disruption (and a degree of "getting it wrong") that users are willing to accept as part of a normal migration process -- and a magic point at which the basic trust is lost and users feel that things have gone horribly awry. What's your take?
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