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Get Ready for Your Office 365 Migration

Discussion in 'Official Microsoft News' started by Sharegate's Blog, Dec 10, 2015.

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  1. Sharegate's Blog

    Sharegate's Blog Guest

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    If you look up the meaning of the word ‘migration’, you'll end up with something that details the movement of ‘something’ from one region to another.

    IT Systems migrations are necessary parts of technology related evolution. For myriad reasons, these large scale operations are hardly straightforward and can present a dangerous and awkward journey.

    Any company that is entertaining the thought of a migration will more than likely have a million and one questions going through their heads. It is, after all, a big decision and the following types of questions are to be expected.

    • Are we ready?
    • Why are we doing this?
    • How much will it cost us?
    • How long will it take?
    • What are the alternatives?
    • Who will it impact?

    Once meetings have taken place and discussions conclude that a migration is what’s needed, a plan needs to emerge.

    So what are the best practices that a company approaching a migration should consider? We take a look at the best practices when migrating to Office 365. These aren't intended to be fully exhaustive but instead are offered as thought provokers. Let’s begin.

    A Rolling Stone Gathers No Moss

    As you may expect, there's a number of stages to consider when planning a migration. While most technicians will broadly expect to give some thought to pre and during migration, it’s easy to get so weighed down in technical minutiae that scant consideration is given to the end users.

    Pre-Migration Requirements

    One of the first things to do is to understand the holistic nature of your migration. Are you moving within the same technology stack (think SharePoint 2007 to Office 365)? Or are you moving from one technology to another (such as old HP servers to Office 365).

    This is important because it helps to think more clearly in terms of risks, issues and missing knowledge. It'll be far easier to work out the gaps between different versions of SharePoint than it would be between totally unrelated technologies.

    Next to consider is the migration method. Is it going to be a manual effort, or will there be a procurement process to select a tool to assist? In this instance, consideration should be given to the content. Questions like how long will it take, are we migrating everything and lists of ‘must have” vs ‘like to have’ should be compiled. All of these points can be delved into with the correct technical staff and those that are able to run reports on the content that the company owns.

    If we had to highlight one, we'd suggest looking at how long it'll take items to migrate. It's a very easy mistake to not assign enough time for bulk operations. Don't get caught out.

    Migration Check-List on the Day

    Next, we can look at what happens over the migration period itself. This can be influenced greatly by the nature of the systems involved. A critical thought process is around what we call the ‘co-existence’ phase; the period of time when both old and new systems may exist alongside each other.

    The co-existence itself normally operates on two levels:

    • For the respective technologies
    • For specific blocks of users

    Some thoughts that you"ll want to consider are: do we freeze updates over the migration period? If so, will users experience any downtime and has this been communicated? On a wider level, which departments will be effected and at what time?

    On a technology basis, care and attention need to be given to all software involved. If the old SharePoint platform is flaky, coaxing some more time out of it while ensuring it can take the strain of the migration process is paramount. Furthermore, how is the target system handling all the data that's being entered into it? And what happens if the migration process breaks and needs to be restarted?

    User Management Best Practices

    Lastly, we need to consider the User Management piece of the pie. This goes far beyond simply informing the users of relevant dates and how they might be influenced. This workstream focuses on how users are empowered and supported to use the new technology. While there's no hard and fast on this regard, we would consider the following worth considering:

    • Hands-training: Consider the merits of letting some of your users experience the technology first hand. This can be achieved via any of the means below.
    • Tutorials: Simple to follow, quick reference guides are normally a quick win. Simple things like highlighting to users where their most used features have moved to or what they've been renamed to.
    • Classes: Training members of IT, service desk or those interested in new technology can certainly help. This helps to ensure that relevant and key personnel are well placed to help other, less experienced or IT literate colleagues
    • Super Users: Lastly, consider the use of technology champions. These are people who can help to show the new technology and if they're enthusiastic about what's coming, this can definitely help!
    Get the Good Stuff

    Migrations, inevitably, bring up a few surprises. Some of these can be bigger and more challenging than expected while others can be smaller and quick to fix. Either way, spending time to make the migration process as smooth as possible is hugely important.

    A poor migration can have knock on effects and leave an impression on your most important audience - end users! How many times have we as users experienced a bad mobile app experience? Did you ever go back to the same app if so? The odds are that you didn't. The same is true of Office 365 migrations.

    Get it right and you lay strong foundations to move forward and focus all the good stuff that Office 365 has to offer.

    Continue reading...
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