Tips & Tricks: Migrating to Office 365

There’s no doubt that Microsoft Office 365 is providing value for enterprises large and small around the world. Office 365 can provide cost savings, productivity gains, and operational flexibility, and we have been quite busy helping clients migrate to the powerful platform over the past 6 months or so.
 
As we have gained extensive experience with these migrations, we have compiled a list of tips and tricks to help you avoid common missteps.
 
Define how you will use Office 365 to Achieve your Goals

First things first. What are your specific motivations for migrating to Office 365? Defining these business goals before your move to Office 365 will help you build a solid business case for the move and calculate an ROI. Identify what you need to meet your organization’s demands and confirm that Office 365 will cover those before you take the plunge.

 
Plan the Migration

Before migrating or even planning your migration to Office 365, consider performing a full audit so that you have a strong understanding of your operating environment. Conducting an audit will allow you to discover what libraries need to be cleaned up and what permissions, mailbox rules, or policies need to be updated. These results will help you build an initial inventory of requirements heading into your migration.
 
Once your audit is complete, it’s time to plan! Many organizations leave hardware and software updates for their IT department to handle in isolation. While it should certainly handle the technical aspects of your migration, the IT team cannot and should not develop the migration strategy in isolation. Be sure to involve representatives from various departments in your planning so that they can provide input about specific needs and concerns for their functions and serve as evangelists to their teams.
 
We always recommend running a pilot test with volunteers from each department to troubleshoot before rolling out to the larger organization and, in particular, your executives who need everything to work right the first time.
 
What systems and equipment could be affected during and after migration? When are acceptable periods of service interruption? Having a cross-functional team provide input as you plan your migration and before you roll out Office 365 on a large scale will help you avoid possible roadblocks and execute an overall smoother transition.
 
Set an Appropriate Schedule

Office 365 migrations don’t happen overnight. In fact, they often take a bit more time than you think. So make sure you set aside adequate time for potential downtime, bottlenecks, or other unforeseeable issues that might arise during the migration. Office 365 is big and powerful, but there might be upload limits along the way. For instance, Exchange Web Services hits a wall of approximately 400 GB per day for importing.
 
Train & Empower Users

One of the most important things to remember in anticipation of your migration to Office 365 is to deploy proper training. While people are getting more and more comfortable with cloud computing on a personal level, Office 365 can be a big leap from your organization’s existing SharePoint environment.
 
With the platform’s range of new features and its different interface, it is critical to train your end users so they know where their data and files can now be accessed. Proper training will ensure that your employees actually use all the new features and tools at their disposal so you realize the ROI on your migration.
 
Set a Cut-off Point for the Old System

All too often, when companies migrate to Office 365, they allow their employees to continue using their legacy system. This is fine up to a point. But if employees are using both systems to store documents, neither will be up to date and you will undermine your own migration! So make sure to set a deadline by which you will discontinue your legacy system and people will have to complete their transition.
 
Have a Post-Migration Strategy

Last but not least, a migration is more than simply moving all your files to the Cloud. Give thought to where your legacy files will be stored and consider this move as an opportunity to purge unused old files. This will streamline and clean up your entire environment, adding to the value that Office 365 brings to your organization.
 

Still unsure of next steps for your company’s Office 365 migration? Let us know – we are here to help!