Every day, more and more organizations are looking to digitally transform their business by adopting cloud-based solutions. Office 365 provides a complete managed infrastructure for email, content, instant messaging, conferencing, and modern collaboration tools. As such, the migration process is complex and, when done incorrectly, can lead to significant business costs, lost productivity, and frustration. Thorough planning is essential to mitigate potential issues and mistakes. To help, we have put together a list of the most common mistakes to avoid when migrating to Office 365.
Lack of Project Management
Simply deciding to migrate to Office 365 and then turning it over to your IT staff is rarely the best decision. In addition to the technical aspects of the migration, there are planning, milestones, and prerequisites that need to be met in order to proceed. Ideally, you would want to have someone with a solid understanding of your organization’s needs and goals, who will keep the project running on task and on time. Many organizations have found that outsourcing this role or the entire project to a trusted migration partner pays dividends as there is often not enough time or in-house skills available, which can only come from successfully completing migrations.
Performing a thorough discovery of your current IT environment is a crucial first step in any migration process. The accuracy of the information obtained plays a significant part in creating a migration timeline, which is the backbone of the project. Discovery should include:
- Mailbox settings
- Company contacts
- Distribution groups
- Resource Rooms/Mailboxes
- Specific or custom permissions
- Shared mailboxes
- DNS considerations
Because of the differences between Office 365 and the various versions of Exchange in production, there will be certain limitations or settings that are sure to be missed. This is also the time where you can verify the specific type of migration process that you will use. Working with an experienced provider who can guide you through a thorough discovery prior to migration can help you to avoid issues and delay during the migration process.
The amount of time your migration will take is largely determined by the amount of data you need to move. Without a complete accounting of all data, you will not properly estimate the completion time or be able to provide users advanced notice of changes. Ensuring that all data is accounted for, including if some of it is even necessary to migrate, is essential to keeping on task and on time.
Underestimating Project Prerequisites
Nothing can bring your project to a halt faster than trying to proceed with a migration prior to ensuring that all prerequisites are met. Not configuring Autodiscover DNS records, having expired certificates, incorrect on-premises server roles, or not opening the required ports for Office 365 are just a few of the tasks that, if skipped, will significantly delay your migration project.
Proceeding Without Testing
Setting up a test migration for every affected part of your environment is important to allow you to address any issues, such as lack of licenses or incorrect permissions, that would negatively impact the migration before it affects service. The inability to access email or critical data is a surefire way to derail your migration.
Leaving End Users in the Dark
In any migration, the main goal should be a smooth transition with little to no impact on your users’ productivity levels. In order to make this happen, your IT department should communicate with all employees to prepare them for the change, set expectations, and communicate the next steps. Be sure to clearly communicate regarding any potential downtime, regardless of when it will occur, and be sure that they understand what changes to expect, even if they are minor or temporary. And most importantly, remember that communication is not a one-time effort. Be sure to send communications early and often through and even after the project closes.
Forgetting About End User Training and Adoption
In most cases, moving to Office 365 is going to provide some level of change for end-users. They’ll need to know how to log in, create new profiles, access data from all devices, and utilize collaboration and communication tools that they are unfamiliar with, and this can be a daunting experience. Working with users empowers them to utilize the Office 365 suite to its full potential, covering both the why and the how of each platform, which will help the migration be smooth and successful.
As we mentioned in a few of these points, working with a Managed Services Partner can help you avoid these common pitfalls. To learn more about the benefits of an MSP, check out this post. Or, if you’re ready to kick off your cloud adventure, reach out to us to learn how Wellforce IT can help guide your Office 365 strategy and implementation (without the errors!).