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*This post originally appeared on The Grid Blog, a private community where Office 365 experts and IT pros share their knowledge. The Grid community has weekly challenges where members share their best Office 365 practices, scenarios and stories. Last August, Grid members were asked to share their best practices for preparing to migrate to Office 365. Below are the top three Grid user posts to help you prepare for your own transition.
Preparing for your Office 365 Migration by Rene Modery
365 is the way that you want to go. What's next on the agenda? What do you need to do?
First of all O365 provides already a kind of step-by-step plan built in the admin module. Go to admin module and click on custom plan and follow the screens provided by O365.
Pay attention: this covers only the technical migration. We all (should) know that a successful migration plan is a user driven plan and not a technology driven plan as the most IT boys would like.
So this is my checklist:
1. Define Business Needs
2. Identify the systems
3. Clean Up you're on premise situation. Migration of garbage to Office 365 is still garbage, whether we like it or not. Clean up your active directory, clean up your mailboxes, clean up what you don't need. This will reduces your migration time, the issues you have to solve during migration and afterwards and it will save you money in the end.
4. Define a user adaption strategy.
6. Migrate & Test
7. Start user adaptation Strategy
8. Finalize: Communication
If no: where did we go wrong and how can we fix it.
I'm letting our web designer continue to explore our branding possibilities while I get busy with the nitty-gritty of our Office 365 deployment.
My current operations will impact about 15 people who are used to doing their job the way they always have. With any migration, there has to be an end-user buy-in, a way for me to explain to these people why I will disturb their operations. In order to accomplish this, I need to come up with a little marketing presentation, and some robust end-user training. All this to ensure that the end users will be comfortable in their new environment and will be on board when the changes will come.
I'm also working on getting a good handle on all the migration options and steps. If you haven't read this blog before, the company I work for is on 2007 Hosted Exchange and WSS.
I've started my formal documentation of the project and have devised some key elements of the 'plan' (quick sketch below):
1. Migration - What am I moving? Where is it going? How will it get there? What tools do I need? How much can I do myself? (Email, SharePoint, ...)
2. Deployment - getting all office computers Office 365 ready with Lync, Outlook, etc...
3. End-User - 'marketing' materials for the end-user. Training for them, geared to their level and competencies...
4. Support - I have a couple of open support tickets
5. Community - joining the Grid, answering relevant posts online, blogging, twitter...
That's my quick sketching for now... Lunch beckons...
So you've decided to start using Office 365 in your organization. What's next?
You shouldn't use it straight away, but rather do a proper planning, including a migration planning. Whether you have nearly no existing systems, or you plan to replace a whole lot of internal Exchange, SharePoint, and Lync infrastructure, there are a few things that have to be done as part of the migration. Below are my Top 5 things to do:
1. Identify Identify your existing systems that need to be considered for the migration. Do you have any systems that provide functionality similar to the one provided by the different Office 365 features that you want to either move to Office 365 or want to coexist (for example a hybrid Exchange environment)? Do you use Active Directory and want to provide users with a single sign-on possibility with their existing accounts? Once that's done, identify the content and data that should be migrated over to Office 365. Do you have documents in file shares that you rather want to see in SharePoint Online? Do you have existing mailboxes that need to be imported to Exchange Online?
As a result of this exercise, you should have a comprehensive list of systems and data that will either by moved to Office 365, replaced by Office 365, or coexist with Office 365.
2. Clean Up The next step is to clean up the data on the systems that will be part of the migration. For example, remove any unnecessary accounts in Active Directory that are no longer needed. The same applies for Exchange, SharePoint, file shares, etc. Go through these systems, and remove any unnecessary items. There is no need to upload documents to SharePoint Online that are being archived only, using a local storage may be a much better solution here.
While you may wonder why this exercise is necessary, there are many long term benefits: first, you will have the chance to clean up your existing environment and remove anything that is no longer needed. Second, you reduce the amount of possible issues that you may encounter later onwards, for example caused by too many AD accounts. And third, you reduce the amount of time it will take to do the actual migration!
3. Communicate Inform all involved participants, including the end users, about what you are planning to do, when you are going to do it, and once the time has come that you are doing it! It is of uttermost importance that everyone involved knows about the move to Office 365, including the reasons and benefits for doing so.
4. Train Don't just look at the technology, but also remember the people: prepare some training for all affected users. For example, show them where they can find their documents in the future (no longer on G:, but directly in SharePoint Online), how they can communicate and collaborate with each other through Lync and SharePoint, and what additional new features there are that may not have been used yet.
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I would also want to indentity technical limitations prior to CONSIDERING migrating to Office 365.
Once you've identified the best Office 365 plan for your business and planned your migration , it's time