Are you preparing to move some or all of your business’s storage and applications to the cloud?

Even for experienced IT professionals, cloud migration projects can become complex undertakings. Today, we share some of our top tips for ensuring that your cloud migration is smooth and successful.

Take time to conduct due diligence on potential vendors: Having the right partners will make all the difference when it’s time to migrate. In addition to having the proper security measures and budget options, you’ll want to make sure you feel confident in the level of service that you’ll receive from your cloud vendors before, during, and after migration.

As you plan your project schedule, include some time to thoroughly research your vendor options. (For more on cloud vendor selection, take a look at our cloud vendor checklist.)

Communicate and get buy-in from stakeholders: Business leaders – even non-technical ones – are increasingly on board with cloud migration because they understand that there are benefits to the business like cost savings, security, and scalability.

However, you’ll still want to take time up front to do an analysis of the business case(s) for moving certain applications to the cloud. Once stakeholders and financial approvers understand the need fully, they’ll likely be more helpful and patient with the process.

You’ll also want to communicate early and often with users throughout the organization so they’re aware of upcoming changes. It will make your life much easier if users are given ample warning about any potential service disruptions or changes to their workflow.

Prioritize applications: If your company is large enough that you have more than one or two applications to migrate, you’ll want to prioritize and take a phased approach.

Particularly if this is your first major migration project, choose the simpler and least business-critical applications first. That way, you can master the learning curve with a minimum of disruption to users.

Know that not everything needs to migrate: Some applications won’t be good candidates for the cloud, and that’s okay. A lot of organizations are taking a hybrid approach, keeping some things on site when it makes sense for cost or management reasons, or because latency could be an issue if an application is moved off site.

Use the opportunity to retire outdated applications: As you’re going through to select and prioritize applications for migration, use the opportunity to identify those that are good candidates to be retired or replaced.

Maybe that application that was developed in-house was once your best option, but now better ones are on the market that could save you time and resources.

Or perhaps a legacy program that used to be widely used in the company is now something that you can live without. This is your chance to trim your budget, improve performance, or simplify IT management by replacing or retiring what you no longer need.

Make time for testing and troubleshooting: As with any large IT undertaking, expect the unexpected. Planning is essential, but know that migrations rarely go 100% as you plan. Ensure that you have testing built into your timeline. Validate the performance and security of your cloud applications once they’ve been moved, and have staff on hand who can troubleshoot problems if and when they arise.

Keep your backup data until you’re sure: Back up critical data before you move anything, and keep that data available until you’re certain that everything is up and running as it should.

If in doubt, bring in outside help: Bringing in an outside consultant to help with your cloud migration planning and execution might sound like yet another expense. However, if your needs are especially complex or your team is small, it could save you quite a bit of time and money in the long run. There’s no shame in asking for help to get the process right.

With the right planning, prioritization, testing, and back-up, you’ll improve the chances that your cloud migration is smooth, within budget, and completed in a timely manner.

If you’re in the early stages of looking at cloud storage options, you might also be interested in our post, Choosing Cloud Storage: Things to Consider.