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Part 2: Migrate to Office 365 – Successfully Moving a Business to the Cloud

Step Two – Migration

In part one of our cloud series, we took a look at the essential research you should perform before embarking on a cloud project. There is no substitute for doing your homework if you are to get the right outcome. But once you’ve established that the proposed solution suits your needs, identified the business problems you are solving, and considered security, it is time to look at implementation.

While it is tempting in these uncertain times to rush, cloud transition is a prime case of ‘more haste, less speed.’  That is not to say that you can’t, with expert help, accelerate matters – just that a sound plan becomes even more important.

But what does a Office 365 migration plan include, and how do you prevent your move to the cloud from hitting turbulence? Recent history is littered with perfectly sound IT solutions that created havoc when implemented, and we can learn from this by following some measures for achieving cloud success.

Making an Office 365 Migration List

First, it is worth creating a detailed list of all tasks that must be completed, assigning an owner to each task, and a due date. A lot of projects fail or hit delays because expectations weren’t communicated clearly. For example, if a business must provide information about its users and their setup to the IT provider before subsequent steps can begin, but the task is unassigned, the project may stall. Communication between those within the organisation and external IT partners can make or break your cloud project.

When assigning tasks, be sure not to overload any individual or team, as this is setting them up for failure. Where possible, have a backup option: this way, if the HR manager is on leave or the CFO is sick, you will minimise resulting delays.

Communicate

One of the most common problems that causes cloud projects to fail, or go over budget, is poor communication. The most obvious aspect is keeping the project team updated, at least weekly, so that everyone knows current progress and is aware of any changes. Communication with the broader organisation, though, should also be factored in. Introduction of cloud is a technology solution that can create human problems if change is not managed effectively. Nobody likes a change dropped on them by IT without warning, and if IT departments are to escape the ‘them and us’ separation of previous years, they must master project communication, or enlist the help of someone skilled in change management.

Incremental Cloud Progress

Ordinarily, our advice is to make manageable, incremental progress on cloud. We work with customers to plan out which workloads are suited to the cloud, and which business needs can be best addressed by a cloud offering. An organisation may, for example, begin with email, get that working, then move onto documents, then CRM. The recommendation is to work out a logical order for the way your business works, considering the intricate relationships between different systems that support your business.

Doing your cloud all at once can be overwhelming for users. Ideally, changing their whole workspace at once should be avoided. Split it into phases where possible and use online training resources to help get them up to speed. Identify power users who can share tips with those around them and encourage their less confident workmates. Of course, with a busy day-to-day job, IT can easily become overwhelmed when taking on a cloud transition, so it is wise to identify where it makes sense to enlist outside help, and who can take on more responsibility in-house. This way you can maintain service standards to the business and keep users happy.

Review Existing Systems

Your implementation plan should also consider whether there are prerequisites you must address first. The review of your systems may identify, for example, that users need Windows 10, but that some are still on Windows 7, or that your internet is too slow to handle the change. A broader look at your technology landscape will pick up on hazards that a closer focus on workloads may miss. We’ve stepped in to help in situations where the cloud solution was great, but the antivirus was an old server version and needed updating.

Removing Old Technology

You’ve made it! Your business has transitioned to cloud, but your project isn’t complete yet. Be sure to cancel your old subscriptions to avoid paying for a service you don’t need. Your old servers will still be sitting in the corner, consuming power, but you shouldn’t just switch them off. First, you must check carefully that nothing is still reliant on the servers – this is when obscure but important legacy applications often come to light. Then, take a final backup, and store it safely.

Once you have resolved these final elements, ensure data is safely removed from the hardware – a professional data destruction service will prevent your business information getting into the wrong hands. Some equipment has a second-hand value and can be re-purposed by another organisation, while others will be best disposed of via a recycling service.

From planning to user training, the way you implement your move to cloud will dictate the success of the venture. Read Part Three of our cloud transition series, or for more news and advice, follow us on LinkedIn.

Time to take charge of your cloud transition, whatever stage you’re at? Talk to one of our friendly TechPath cloud experts about a successful Office 365 migration today.