So you’ve decided to start using Office 365 in your organisation. 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:

Photo by bugeaters

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 image
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.

Photo by lunchtimemama

5. Test
Lastly, don’t forget to do a trial migration. Verify that everything that you want to migrate can be migrated and that no errors occur. Start with small amounts of data first, and do a test run with a few users only. Do their mailboxes migrate without any issues? Do they find it difficult to use the new system and need new training?
As a result of this, you will find out which problems may exist, and can then go back to one of the earlier steps and fix them.

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