Documenting cloud transformation - where to start?

Matt Flanagan
MD
BlueHub
Columnist
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How to document a firm's Cloud Transformation is one of the regular questions I get when engaging with accountants. In fact, I can almost guarantee how this type of initial conversation will go: 

The firm asks me: Why it is important? I respond with the following:

  1. It is a living reference document for the management and employees of the Firm
  2. Going through this process makes you and your leaders think about the requirement and resources needed
  3. Identifies areas of strength and weakness for your firm prior to starting the transformation project
  4. Makes you as a firm ask questions of yourself as to whether you are in the right position to commence this transformation project

I then ask what they have done so far regarding documenting this vital element already, the document is normally in one of the following states:

  1. No documentation
  2. Partly documented but not finished and no thought into the content
  3. Back of a fag packet (like an email/memo)
  4. War and peace – takes so long to read and review that it never happens

If the document has been started and is underway it then invariably falls into one of the following categories:

  1. Given to a junior member of the firm and is carried out as a tick box exercise with not enough thought to it
  2. Given to a member of the firm who has no exposure to the cloud and misses the key points
  3. Given to a member of the IT team who then turns it into an IT Project

The next question is: What should be included within the document? Here are some ideas below:

  1. Vision Statement
    1. This should be an overview of why the firm is looking to transition to Cloud as best practice and the associated outcomes – E.G improved service levels, or new revenue streams, bigger revenue from a smaller client base, specialists in certain sectors, etc
  2. Stakeholder Identification
    1. Who are the people within the firm who are going to sponsor and back the delivery of the project?
  3. High Level Cloud Solution Selected
    1. Identify the solution(s) and/or the platform you are going to utilise as the core Cloud offering.
  4. Current Firm Cloud Conversion Data
    1. Document your current statistics in terms of how many cloud clients you currently have and current run rates of conversion. This should also cover how long it will take to convert current client base to cloud.
  5. Firms Cloud Conversion Targets
    1. Identify how many clients you want to move to cloud in what timeframe. Does this include existing and prospective clients?
  6. Training Approach
    1. This should identify the ways in which you are looking to upskill your staff to ensure smooth on-boarding of the new ways of working.
  7. Workflow/Processes Impact Overview
    1. With the introduction of cloud accounting which of your workflows and processes will affected by this
  8. Internal Communications Approach
    1. This element should identify how the Project team is going to communicate to the rest of the firm as to the progress of the project.
  9. Marketing Approach
    1. Document the marketing techniques that are going to be considered to reach and nurture new clients to cloud as well as existing clients whom are identified as being fit for cloud.
Cloud Accounting Vision Document Snapshot

I always ensure to remind them that this should be a living document for their firm that is regularly reviewed and evolves over time. The frequency will differ between different sized firms but should be reviewed, updated and baselined a minimum of twice a year. It is quite likely that the first draft could be between 4-8 pages and then will grow as you experience, learn and implement more elements of your Cloud Transformation.

Finally, they ask me if I have a template they could look at? Of course - you can download it here - https://goo.gl/kfzcrD

About Matt Flanagan

Matt Flanagan Pic

Matt co-founded BlueHub and has lead the team to on-board hundreds of businesses to cloud solutions, from complex inventory systems to project management programs. What started as a service to help with Xero Ecosystem add-on implementation, evolved into an additional service mentoring accountancy practices in moving their client base to cloud accounting systems.

Matt provides professional services to accountants, enabling them to move into business software advisory roles in a rapidly developing and changing industry.

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