In today’s digitized world, mastering the intricacies of collaborative work management (CWM) post-cloud migration has become a cornerstone for thriving businesses. CWM, which emphasizes seamless collaboration using digital tools, is essential in ensuring teams can operate efficiently in a landscape reshaped by cloud technologies.
Yet, the path to achieving optimal CWM in this environment is paved with challenges, from integrating legacy systems to adapting workflows in newly cloud-native contexts.
Lee Connolly, Director of Cloud & Digital at PwC has seen these challenges firsthand, navigating the slow, manual processes that have plagued businesses for years. He believes that by pivoting their mindset towards Dynamic Work Management, businesses can overcome legacy systems and inefficient processes that halt progress and innovation.
Being at the forefront of complex workflow deployments, Lee has a wealth of knowledge and advice on Collaborative Work Management adoption and the future of cloud migration - and shared his expertise at Empower 2023.
Migration to the Cloud: The Present and the Future
Organizations have spent lots of time (and money) in the past decade migrating their digital resources, applications, data, and services from on-premises infrastructure to cloud-based platforms.
According to Lee, something seems to be missing: a push of the cloud towards what he calls the edges of the business.
"If you walk around a plant floor of a manufacturing company or even the finance department of many of our largest clients, what you see on the screen isn't necessarily one of those big, cloud-based platforms that have been implemented over the past decade-plus," Lee says. "You still see a lot of Microsoft Excel, a lot of spreadsheets, a lot of emails, a lot of combinations of different tools." This is what we at Quickbase call gray work—the makeshift efforts employed to cope and manage when your technology fails to deliver.
Lee believes that in the next ten to 15 years, leaders will realize the value of bringing the edges of the business to the cloud to get a return on investment. As for the role of CWM in this change, he thinks "these are going to be the mechanisms that help bridge that gap and help make that move for the rest of the business, for the people who want to be able to work and do their job on the cloud in an automated, resilient, way."
The CWM adoption spectrum
Based on the questions they've gotten from their clients, PwC noticed themes and an emerging adoption spectrum of CWM platforms. On one side, we have the Overwhelmed Early Adopter; on the other end, there's the Curious Investor. These two persona types are crucial for businesses addressing where they lie on the CWM adoption process
The Overwhelmed Early Adopter
On this side, the adopter deals with multiple providers, little IT oversight, and fractured governance.
"These clients may have let different pockets of the business go out and buy tools," Lee explains. "But they didn't really do it under the watchful eye of IT or the structure that an investment like that would require. So they're left with highly variable skills and communities of builders and adopters across their business. And it's hard for leaders to understand what the landscape looks like, how much or how little IT has been involved, and how they can start to really wrap their arms around the usage and the value that they're getting out of that investment."
On the one hand, you're left with people clinging to these tools because they help them work better, faster, and smarter. But leaders in this bucket start to ask about what they are getting in terms of ROI. So the people using it get defensive, and contentious relationships might start taking shape between the users and the leadership team.
The Curious Investor
On the opposite side of the spectrum are the Curious Investors.
"These are teams, organizations, that maybe haven't made the investment and have been a bit more conservative about letting individual pockets of the business go out and buy their own tool, or leverage something that wasn't really IT sponsored," explains Lee.
In this case, there's sparse use of no-code, low-code, and collaborative work management platforms across the business. There's little (if any) investment or sponsorship from IT "because it wasn't something they had the time, money or priority to enable and support," Lee notes This causes an issue because people across the organization know that there are better things out there and feel like IT hasn't invested in the space as much as they could have.”
"As a result, there are gaps in data consistency, business processes, and governance. Because maybe we're still doing things manually, or maybe we're doing things differently in different parts of the business,” Lee explains. ”So there's a growing need here to take advantage of the cloud-based tools that would help solve some of the problems that those business users have."
The Common Ground
Whatever side of the spectrum Lee's clients fall on, he sees the challenges and opportunities moving ahead are surprisingly similar.
"First and foremost is governance and guardrails," he says. "I need to come up with a governance model and guardrails that will ultimately get that return on investment and enable people to take advantage of the tools in a way that is on strategy and is delivering against what we want it to deliver on."
Both sides also grapple with differing opinions and understanding of no-code and CWM platforms across the organization. According to Lee, "we haven't seen a lot of folks get aligned on what the potential is and what a roadmap ahead could look like."
Businesses are also lacking when it comes to investing in upskilling employees. There's a lot happening around traditional cloud systems, from certifications to entire infrastructures that support the people who want to own and manage those platforms.
"We don't see that quite yet when it comes to no-code, low-code, and collaborative work management," Lee says.
On a positive note, there's a growing number of champions and enthusiasts for these tools. "Whether that's on the overwhelmed early adopter side or on the curious investor side, that list of champions and enthusiasts pushing that agenda within our clients is growing across the board."
Scalability in Today’s Enterprise
In the contemporary business landscape, the concept of Dynamic Work Management is rapidly gaining traction. It's a holistic, adaptable, model that ensures every team member has timely access to the right information and a conducive environment to harness their full potential. Central to Dynamic Work is the principle of scalability.
"As we start talking about bringing more processes online and people online, what does scalability really look like? What does the roadmap look like? It has to be a combination, an integrated picture of the technology components that are required, the business and processes, and the people that are required,” explains Lee. ”Ultimately, the experience that we want to create for people as they go through this journey within their business."
As organizations grow and diversify, their operations, teams, and projects exponentially multiply, making the integration of data, processes, and communication essential. Without scalability, businesses might find themselves trapped in inefficiencies, information silos, and disjointed workflows. This is where collaborative work management comes into play. By adopting unified, centralized platforms, organizations ensure that collaboration becomes seamless, transcending departments and hierarchies.
Such integrative platforms act as the backbone of dynamic work, simplifying complex processes and ensuring everyone is on the same page, fostering an environment where agility, transparency, and productivity thrive.
Get value from your approach to collaboration
Ultimately, each team and each organization is going to have to find new ways to collaborate and create value across their organization. But Lee leaves us with a few good starting points for you to start having these conversations with your team:
Outline the challenges your organization is facing and where it's not delivering on strategy.
Align the potential value of CWM platforms with those gaps or challenge areas.
Determine the right mix of solutions. "There's not going to be a one size fits all answer here. Realistically, there's going to be some blend and mix of tools and solutions when we get down to our final investment areas and roadmap".
Establish the central teams. "Folks that drive governance, processes, enable the people that are going to ultimately be the adopters, the users and the builders of these platforms and measure success along the way."
Encourage people to learn new skills. "Challenge them, share success, scale the positive impacts, talk about the ways that we're delivering on the strategy through the use of these tools and platforms," he concludes.