Transitioning to Office 365 – Everything You Need to Know

Upgrading to Office 365 can be a huge advantage for your organisation. In order to make the transition to Office 365 a smooth one, it’s important to plan for it, and to ensure everyone involved understands their role in the process. And, there are some crucial steps to include in the process to make sure you’ve got everything covered.

Reviewing Your Current Systems

The first step in transitioning to Office 365 is to review your current IT infrastructure. This is a crucial step because you need to determine if your organisation’s current IT setup can actually support Office 365. If it can’t you may need to invest in some infrastructure upgrades first.

Some things to check include:

  • Your servers
  • Network architecture and DNS
  • Directory design
  • Mail and other client applications
  • Security and compliance
  • Connectivity

Plan the Transition Based on Your Organisation’s Needs

Planning the transition to Office 365 is the key to making sure it all goes smoothly. The transition process itself is simple, as long as you’re prepared for it. Some things to keep in mind include:

  • Build a diverse prep team: Put together a small team of people to plan and prepare for the transition. Include a broad cross-section of people from within your organisation—business, marketing, engineering, sales, support—to make sure you’ve got a wide range of perspectives. You need to hear from as many different departments as you have, to make sure the organisation’s needs are met as you transition to Office 365.
  • Draw on expert advice: Who do you know who has carried out this kind of migration recently? If you know someone who’s transitioned to Office 365 and can offer advice this is an essential resource to draw on. Another option is to hire a consultant to work with your team as they prepare for the transition.
  • Choose the Office features you need: Depending on the size and nature of your organisation you may not need to implement every feature Office 365 offers. One thing your team needs to evaluate is what features are needed, according to how valuable they are to employees and the organisation.
  • How will the transition proceed? The next step is to decide how to deploy Office 365 across the organisation. For instance, one option is to roll Office 365 out on a trial basis to a single department or to a select group of users. This allows you to check out how the effects of the change before rolling it out across the entire organisation.

Plan the full deployment strategy: Plan the move, taking current and projected future needs into account, as well as what data you plan to move to the new system. Which users will be affected? Will deploying the new system in a particular order be most beneficial? What data needs to be moved, and what doesn’t?

Make Sure Employees are Prepared

Moving to Office 365 signals a major shift in the way your organisation operates, especially if your business is new to the cloud. At the least, your employees will need training to prepare them for the new system. This is essential if you want to get the most out of Office 365 right from the start.

One consideration that’s too often overlooked is that this kind of transition can be intimidating for employees—especially for long-time employees who are used to the old system. Providing training will help manage this problem.

Start the onboarding process before the transition, by designating one or more people to act as “ambassadors”. These should be people who are willing to put in some work to get acquainted with Office 365 before the rollout. Then, these people can provide guidance to other employees once the new system is up and running. Having this in place before the rollout should help immensely with any anxiety that employees might have about the changes that are happening.

Provide plenty of resources for employees as they learn the new system. Tutorials, training sessions, and other resources can help them make the most of Office 365’s new features. Office 365 has plenty of tools and features that will help your employees be more productive, so it’s important that they’re provided with everything they need to learn how it all works.

Have a Backup Plan in Place

Office 365 has some excellent security features and tools to help you protect your data once it’s in the cloud. However, you’re still vulnerable to problems that happen on your end—such as accidental deletions—that might potentially result in lost data. So, when you’re upgrading to Office 365 it’s important to remember to put in place backups and redundancies that ensure your data is safe, secure, and available when it’s needed.

If you’d like more information about migrating to Office 365, please do get in touch.

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