Razor-sharp communication and no time for bullshit: that’s the way to run digital transformation
Liff Hoberg is the Senior Program Manager at the Danish Cloud company CLOUDEON where she has been part of the team for four years – almost since its foundation in 2016. Speaking with Liff is a high tempo experience. There is no time for bullshit or beating around the bush – neither in Liff’s projects nor her conversations. CLOUDEON works with transforming companies to fit the future of IT, which is an ever-changing task that makes Liff’s position as a project manager focused around being flexible and always having the bird’s-eye view in projects.
In a digital transformation process communication with the stakeholders must be clear and concise – and you must be prepared to turn 180 degrees if that will help the project closer to its end goal. A large part of good project management is, of course, the planning, but as Liff emphasizes:
“Lots of things can crash and burn in one day. That’s just the way it is with so many different people and interests invested in one project – stakeholders, delivery people, maybe developers in another country, freelancers, and so on. You make them all work together by communicating and being transparent. My team has to know what I am discussing with the executives and the stakeholders at all times, and which challenges we face in management”.
Organizational politics and large egos
But part of what is driving Liff is finding solutions to unexpected roadblocks and dodging the crises that easily arise when a large organization is getting used to a new digital reality. CLOUDEON’s team needs to have eyes on the optimal architecture in the new Cloud solution and at the same time be able to adapt to the company’s own guidelines and internal strategies. Yet again it comes down to good communication:
“Mostly, the problems arise when people misunderstand each other. It can be a customer failing to explain their needs properly to the developers, or that one of the partners have unrealistic expectations to the time frame and the economy in the project. There is a risk of large egos, power, and internal politics in the organization dominating these projects, as Cloud transformation is typically a highly profiled decision and as such needs to be finalized fast to the satisfaction of the responsible executives”. – Liff Hoberg, Senior Program Manager
It is then up to CLOUDEON’s team to keep their heads straight and make sure that communication is clear between developers, IT department, and decision makers in the organization. At the bottom line, this is what will create an effective solution that is sustainable for the customer in the long run.
A horse-drawn carriage in the basement
When presented with a tagline from CLOUDEONs website, “future technology is developed for people”, Liff smiles and adds that moving into the IT world of tomorrow is not quite that simple. Companies want different kinds of hybrid solutions – some servers go in the Cloud and others stay on-premise – according to their respective IT landscape. Liff elaborates:
“The difference from old IT infrastructure is huge. You can compare it to the difference between having a big horse-drawn carriage in the basement and having an old car. Every customer comes with their own basis for change and their individual wishes for the digital transformations”.
The new IT solutions need to be understandable and accessible by employees with varying degrees of technical knowledge and capacity for change. From the side of project management this requires insight into an IT landscape in different states of development where the ‘old world’ continuously clashes with the new. Often, a lot of the IT employees will be used to manually having to update and maintain the servers in the company datacenters. For those people the centralized and automated world of Cloud can seem scary and foreign.
At the bottom line it is the job of Liff and her team at CLOUDEON to prove to both employees and management that it – without a doubt – pays, both economically and practically, to combat the discomfort and launch the digital transformation. Once the company realizes that working in Cloud can be both cheaper, more elastic, and scalable, it is hard to argue against the change.
The ’CLOUDEON way’
For Liff CLOUDEON’s project management is often a question of mediating between the customers’ expectations of digital transformation and the actual practical knowledge and experience of CLOUDEON’s technical specialists:
“Maybe the companies have read a trend review article with some buzzwords about Cloud. That doesn’t mean, however, that they know which solutions would suit their company specifically. We have time to acquire the understanding and experience needed to make the processes run smoothly. It is our task to present good and realistic solutions – and deliver new knowledge to the customers without putting them on display. No one should do consultant work that just leaves some catchy buzzwords in the office corner. You need to leave a job well done and great procedures for the future”.
- Liff Hoberg, Senior Program Manager
In a process like that adaption to the companies’ own cultures and project management models is crucial for Liff and her team: “You pick the best from all worlds – it’s all about being agile and ready for change. Some companies use SAFe or PRINCE2, some use a mix, and still others have had their own models made”. Liff then makes an assessment, picks and chooses what she can optimally use from CLOUDEON’s own models, and combines it with those of the customers.
Believing in the project
For Liff it is less about choosing the right project management model than about continually following up on the progression of the project and making sure that the stakeholders understand the choices being made. All of that gets easier when you yourself believe in the project:
“We are working in a generational turnover in IT. And the great thing about working at CLOUDEON is actually believing in the idea – and becoming the carrier of it. You have to be open, forward-thinking, and progressive to be able to see the exciting potential in the ideas of the future”.
- Liff Hoberg, Senior Program Manager
For Søren Dandanell Nielsen, CEO of CLOUDEON, project managers like Liff are a central part of CLOUDEON’s DNA:
“Liff and her colleagues are talented – comparable to conductors in front of an orchestra pit packed with musicians. All the musicians play different instruments but must play from the same sheet music in the same tempo for the music to become worthy of an audience. The project manager has the same kind of relationship to the different stakeholders and employees involved in the project. A decisive and qualified project management is an essential requirement for all successful deliveries – and Liff is both decisive, excessively qualified, and experienced.”