The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the credit union industry’s commitment to digital transformation and the adoption of more modern technologies to meet the demands of today’s members and protect data. As more credit unions transition to cloud infrastructure, they are realizing the benefits, including cost savings, flexibility, scalability, and a shift in workload allowing for more innovation and improved operations.

The transition from idea to cloud strategy to cloud implementation, however, can be filled with hurdles, tough decisions, and potential mistakes if leaders fail to approach it with the right mindset and information.

We are often asked about common mistakes related to cloud strategies and the digital transformation journey. Here are our top five and tips on how your team can avoid making them.

  • Framing Your Cloud Strategies Just Around the Technical Element

The decision to migrate services to the cloud, either in part or in whole, is a big undertaking for any organization, but it is important to keep in mind the “why” behind the move: to better enable business.

Therefore, it is important to not only include representatives from business components in strategy sessions but also to take their needs, requirements, and constraints into account throughout the entire implementation. Credit unions must be inclusive beyond the executive team – think about those who will need to participate actively in the digital transformation; those whose jobs will change; and those who will do the work and lead the process.

These are the people that need to buy in to the journey and there is no better way to generate buy-in than to include them in the design of the process.

  • Losing Momentum from Cloud Strategy Development to Implementation

While advancing digital transformation requires buy-in from the top down, a mandate from the executive team to move to the cloud sometimes isn’t enough to ensure implementation, which can cause organizations to lose momentum for their project during the strategy phase.

A cloud strategy should not be solely focused on cost-savings or remaining on-trend. Adoption of the cloud should be about implementing new services or features that can directly link to real business outcomes and goals.

  • Thinking Too Small

While there can be an argument for moving a single service to a hosted environment one at a time, eventually, the operation of your infrastructure will become disjointed and even harder to manage.

When developing a cloud strategy, credit unions should think holistically about how you want your technology to look in the future and the path and timeline you want to get there.

By building a multi-layer tactical plan – a 3-year guide featuring high-level goals, a 1-year plan with more detail, and a quarterly tactical plan and budget – the team can celebrate wins along the way to maintain momentum and excitement.

  • Going Too Big, Too Fast

Credit union leaders need to consider their capacity and resources when starting a digital transformation journey. There will be missteps and things will go sideways. Many organizations discover they are under-staffed or inappropriately staffed for this journey, but a partner can help reduce the burden and provide the needed skillsets and expertise, to guide teams through the process, especially the rough moments.

It is important to consider training, communication, and technology needed in the development and implementation of the plan.

  • Thinking a Cloud Strategy Is a Silver Bullet

A move to the cloud is a big transition in the operation of a business, and it can have significant implications for your workflows, applications, and processes from end to end. However, many organizations believe that a cloud strategy and the ultimate implementation of it will be, in itself, the solution to their technology woes.

This is not the case. Instead, credit unions should use digital transformation as an opportunity to evaluate all technology applications, workflows, policies, and procedures, to avoid migrating inefficiencies and bad practices to a new environment.

The following practices can help credit unions ensure the transition from cloud strategy to implementation succeeds:

  • Identify measures of success that can be used to evaluate the alignment of the cloud strategy with expectations for transformation.
  • Select a partner with the experience and tools to ease the transition and streamline the various stages of implementation.
  • Think about how the cloud can transform your organization, providing new efficiencies and features to improve business operations.

A transition to the cloud can mark a turning point in the trajectory of an organization’s growth. However, the development and implementation of a cloud strategy can be a time full of missed opportunities, mistakes, and hiccups without the right perspective and team in place.