More and more businesses are moving to cloud-based services, which is why we’re seeing more businesses planning for an Office 365 migration. In fact, Office 365 had over 155 million active business users as of late 2018.
While making the move is beneficial in many ways, it has to be done correctly or there’s a risk of things going wrong, such as lost data, unplanned downtime and increased costs.
We always recommend spending more time on planning before actually starting the migration process. It’s better to be prepared than have regrets later.
Clean Out Old And Redundant Data
The first step might seem unnecessary at first, but we can’t count the number of times our clients have moved redundant databases from their existing systems to the cloud. A simple audit would have caught this duplicate content. Why bother getting rid of it? The more data a business has to move, the longer the Office 365 migration takes. This creates extra time and expense. Plus, it makes managing business data easier.
When businesses have migrated from system to system, old files and duplicate data start piling up. Take time to go through business files and databases to see what actually needs to migrate and what can either be archived or deleted.
Map Out Current Infrastructure
Ideally, businesses should strive to closely mimic their current infrastructure. If they notice something that’s not fitting with current business goals, now is the time to make changes.
However, the biggest reason to map out the current infrastructure is to know how to migrate data. A common mistake we see is businesses trying to migrate everything at once. This leads to major downtime and makes it much harder to tell what’s going wrong, if something does happen.
Always migrate data a little at a time. Use the current infrastructure to determine what to move and in what order. We can’t stress enough that businesses don’t have to migrate their entire system at one time.
Patch Current Systems
It’s a common myth that since a business is moving to a more secure platform that they don’t need to bother keeping their current system up to date. However, until the migration is complete, vulnerabilities in existing systems pose a security risk during the migration. We like to tell businesses that their system is only as secure as their weakest software or hardware.
Before any Office 365 migration, install all the latest security patches. It’s not unusual to see businesses migrating from much older systems. This doesn’t mean security shouldn’t be a top priority, though.
Understand Office 365 Features And Security
Another common area that’s overlooked during migration planning is understanding what features and security options are available in Office 365. As the migration takes place, IT admins need to be fully aware of how to assign and/or block access to certain features and files. Otherwise, the system is open to the entire business and sometimes, the public as well.
Plan out how security will be set up, what permissions need to be changed and what other security measures to take before migrating.
Plan How To Keep Working
An Office 365 migration doesn’t mean a business comes to a halt. Instead, businesses must plan out the migration so it has minimal impact on the daily workings of the organization. Employees should still be able to access all necessary files and apps during the process. Otherwise, the migration can easily exceed budgets just due to downtime.
This is another reason why we always recommend taking the migration a little at a time. It’s better to take longer than rush it only to hurt the business’s productivity and reputation. Take a look at what employees use and need. Then, plan around employees’ schedules to reduce the impact the migration has.
Test For Compatibility
It’s vital to test the compatibility between current systems and data and Office 365. Test to see if any current apps will integrate well with Office 365 or not. Before migrating, businesses may have to make changes to their apps. For custom apps, coding may need to be changed to ensure compatibility.
Create A Timeline
Finally, create a detailed timeline. This timeline should outline business goals, the planning phase, different phases of the Office 365 migration and even when to test the results to see if the migration was beneficial and is meeting business goals.
A timeline helps to better manage expectations, especially with executives and shareholders.
Use Microsoft’s Guidelines
While we help throughout the entire process, we also recommend that businesses look carefully at Microsoft’s Office 365 deployment guide. The guide serves as a template for helping businesses create their own unique checklists. It’ll also help to see what’s involved and aid in avoiding common pitfalls during the planning and migration process.
Planning an Office 365 migration for your business? Don’t try to do it alone. Contact us today to learn how we can help make your migration easier and more successful.
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