5 Steps for a Successful Office 365 Migration Plan

Successful office 365 migration plan
Switching to Office 365 has its benefits — a successful migration can boost productivity and reduce costs. But getting there? You need a solid Office 365 migration plan.

Whether you’re migrating your entire operation to the cloud or require a hybrid IT solution, you need a seamless transition and improved user experience to realize the full benefits of Office 365 for your business.

While planning can feel tedious, a thorough Office 365 migration plan minimizes the risk of deployment failures and sets you up for migration success.

Follow these five steps to create an effective Office 365 migration plan.

Step 1: Discover and Assess

To start, you need to know what you’re working with.

The discovery and assessment phase ensures you don’t waste time or money migrating data and IT assets you don’t need. One Gartner study found that 80 percent of its client’s data was redundant during a deployment.

After confirming the data you’re migrating is actively being used, you’ll want to assess your IT environment:

The discovery assessment should include:

  • The number of user accounts
  • The number and size of mailboxes
  • Client versions and configurations
  • Network setting details
  • File storage locations
  • Intranet site information (if used)
  • Online meeting and Instant Messaging platform details
  • Any applications like CRM or workflows you use

Pro tip:
You can also use Microsoft’s readiness check. It’s an automated tool that gives you a readiness assessment report, detailed software and hardware information and advice to speed up the Office 365 migration planning process.

You’ll also want to decide which improvements you plan to make. How will you improve the user experience (e.g., go mobile or implement Skype for Business?) Which new features do you want to take advantage of? How will they fit into your business?

Developing an Office 365 training and communication plan will also ensure users are technologically equipped, well-informed and ready to make the switch.

Step 2: Create Your Strategic Plan

Once you have a full picture of your IT environment, it’s time to create your Office 365 migration plan.

Here are a few questions to address:

  • Which mailbox migration strategy will you use? Are you doing a staged or cutover migration? Hybrid approach? Select the migration strategy that works with your business. (Not sure? We can help you with that.)
  • Who are the key players in the migration? You need management and power users in your organization on board to complete a successful migration.
  • How will you carry out the migration without disrupting workflow? Make sure you consider how the migration will affect business continuity and adjust for it.
  • What skills do you have internally? What do you need to outsource? One of the biggest mistakes companies make is trying to migrate to Office 365 in-house without the experience. Make sure you have all the resources you need to avoid the headaches and costs of botched migrations.
  • Are you accounting for privacy and compliance requirements? If you have HIPAA or federal regulations, you may not be able to store all your data in the cloud.

Step 3: Test Your Plan With a Pilot Migration

Don’t skip this step. By testing before migrating, you can avoid downtime due to issues with bandwidth, servers, certificates and more.

Conduct a pilot migration by migrating only a small amount of data and verifying the results. You will be able to test permissions and access, capture and address any errors, document the findings and gather statistics on your migration. Tweak your plan based on your learnings from this pilot migration.

Step 4: Migrate

After working out any kinks in the testing phase, you are now ready to complete your Office 365 migration.

If you’re not working with a third-party, you may want to look into migration software to support your internal team efforts. Consider delaying deployment for executives and high-touch users to minimize the potential business impact if something were to go wrong.

Step 5: Validate & Remediate

Finally, assess the migration.

Gather feedback from users to learn what is working well and what isn’t. Address any problems that may need fixing after the migration. You will need to communicate to the end users how to customize preferences and verify their information is intact.

The post-migration follow up is crucial. Migrating data to the cloud without implementing the processes and tools to support Office 365 will drive up costs and complicate support in the future.

Want more? Here are five ways to increase your team’s productivity with Office 365.

Office 365 Migration Planning With Helixstorm

Many businesses take on Office 365 migrations without a comprehensive plan or the expertise to successfully execute the migration.

If you don’t have the time or resources to successfully migrate to Office 365, give Helixstorm a call. We can help you with all your technology needs, including Office 365 migrations, IT consulting and ongoing IT support.

Think of us as your IT department, just in a different building. Call today for your free consultation.