Chances are you’ve heard of “the cloud” and you and your organization may still be familiarizing yourselves with the concept of storing and accessing data from it. But one thing for certain is that cloud computing and services will continue to expand. Cloud-based services are expected to grow from a $70 billion industry in 2015 to a $141 billion industry in 2019, according to research firm IDC.

As companies continue to transition to cloud-based services, there are a few planning aspects that can make the process more seamless for your staff.

  1. Think about the bigger picture

A migration to cloud-based services is a process that can take a few years to complete, depending on the comprehensiveness of your plans. While it is critical to identify specific projects early on, it is also important to have some idea where you will be going. Don’t set your organization up for more costs down the road by pursuing solutions that could be incompatible with future growth. Engage your IT team to determine where there are opportunities to begin the transition and develop a realistic timeline for achieving various phases of the transition.

  1. Find a straightforward pilot project

Many companies are already engaged in the cloud without realizing it. One third of all IT budgets in 2017 will be focused on Cloud and Hosting services.  Your organization also likely has some Software-As-A-Service (SaaS) such as Outlook 365, or a managed backup solution.  As cloud capabilities evolve, more and more spend will be on cloud-based services and how you manage these current projects may affect the success of future efforts.

  1. Understand your evolving technology requirements

A first step in starting or continuing a migration to cloud-based services is to plan future bandwidth necessities. You’ll need to establish a baseline for how much bandwidth you need to host your systems and current data, you can start to allot for future needs. However, it’s important to note that you don’t want to allot additional bandwidth too quickly because you could pay for services that aren’t yet being utilized. If possible, consider including in your contract the possibility of renegotiating bandwidth pricing once you are within 10 percent of your bandwidth capacity. Also, be sure to understand how you are provisioning cloud services.

  1. Stay grounded

While organizations rush to take advantage of the benefits of the cloud, the reality is that most of the activity being moved to the cloud is current processing capabilities.  At the same time, Cloud vendors are pushing business intelligence, data analytics and the Internet of Things (IoT).  Organizations have been shown to be wasting 35 percent of current cloud spending because they are purchasing more capability than is needed.

  1. Plan your staff’s responsibilities

Even as outsourced cloud-based services become more prevalent, your IT team will still play an integral role in technology integration going forward. While their focus may not be on managing as many services via a server, they will still manage any data back-ups, can help facilitate the transition to cloud-based services, and troubleshoot issues that arise during the process. They can also help you determine how to scale your data needs going forward.

While beginning or continuing a transition to cloud-based services can have its challenges, understanding your organization’s technology and bandwidth needs, enlisting the input of your IT team, and developing a long-term plan will help streamline the process.