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Email migration to Office 365 part 9 – Migration completed. Now what?

Apr 28, 2017 by Emma Robinson

Your email migration to Office 365 is complete. After months of planning, and a smooth execution, you’re sat looking at your Office 365 environment with its shiny new Admin Center, and the various options and features that are now at your fingertips.

Now what?

We fully understand how tempting it can be to sit back and relax, Migration complete. Even the smoothest migration involves extensive planning and investment (in both time and resources). It’s an upheaval, and once it’s done, it can feel like a huge weight off everyone’s shoulders. However, in many ways, a completed migration is actually the start of a wider process; an approach to make things more effective and efficient than you’ve previously seen.

Everything’s been moved over, and it should be in place, now it’s time to ensure the migration is an ongoing success, and delivers the benefits that kick-started the project in the first place. It’s important to be aware that when we’re talking about success here, we aren’t talking in terms of direct financial returns or ROI. Of course, these are extremely vital indicators, which should be considered throughout the process, but our indicator of ‘success’ here is based on end user adoption, itself a crucial, contributing factor of ROI.

How do you ensure the greatest Office 365 adoption rate?

If you’ve migrated, all your users are up and running, and they’re embracing all of the new services and features that they now have access to – fantastic. From a productivity and adoption standpoint, the migration can be considered successful.

If your users are not interacting with their new platform as they should, if they’re still relying on legacy systems and seem hesitant to transition to their new environment, then this is a problem. You will need to create a strategy to remedy this, and a clear action plan needs to be implemented to ensure the greatest levels of adoption are achieved as quickly as possible.

The problem is: How do you know whether your end users are embracing their new environment, or not?

The solution is data: the information is in Office 365, and there are a number of ways to access, and use it. There are three main ways to find this information. You can build PowerShell scripts (our blog has plenty to get you started), you can use the reporting and analytics available in the Admin center (if you have the correct access rights) or using PowerBI, or you can explore the range of third party solutions which gather, process and present this data to you.

Each of these options have their pro’s and con’s:

  • PowerShell is an effective way to make and run custom-built reports. Unfortunately it is also time-consuming, complicated, and it requires someone with technical experience to use it effectively. The other potential issue is that if Microsoft make a change to Office 365,  this can sometimes break script(s), which can be difficult to identify ahead of time.
  • The built-in reporting and analytics features of Office 365 are improving with time, but they still don’t always provide reporting insights in a way that can be customised, exported, or filtered effectively. They’re great for small-mid sized companies, but they don’t offer the granularity or customisation that large enterprises need, for the vast amount of data they generate. Another option is PowerBI which is more detailed, but as a result, it can be difficult to understand and manipulate, (find out more about this option in our previous blog)
  • The third option is reporting solutions created by ISVs (Independent Software Vendors). There a number of these solutions available, offering a wider range of reports, more customisation and far more detail – with additional features like scheduling and exporting available. But as you might expect, these additional features and reports  come at an additional cost. That’s why it’s important to assess the capabilities of various providers against your reporting needs and typical use cases.

As for us, we fall into the final category. We provide an advanced Office 365 report and analytics solution that gos beyond the capabilities of the services available within Office 365, and ensure you get the information you need to drive adoption, reduce costs and improve security.

Key Exchange Online adoption indicators

No matter what reporting solution you choose, it’s important to know what you need to look for when it comes to service adoption. As this series has been focused on email migration (and it’s usually the first workload that companies choose to migrate), we explore some key indicators for Exchange Online adoption.

What are you looking to see:

  • Recipient count over time. This metric is actually important during the migration, as well as in the early stages of adoption. It can give you an insight into the progress of your project: as recipients increase, you know that mailboxes are being moved over effectively, and users are able to access and use their new email service.
  • Active/inactive users on Exchange Online. Comparing the two figures over time, you can track adoption trends, and begin to understand the uptake for the new service.
  • Exchange Online ‘log ins’ per day. If you are able to track how many mailboxes are ‘logged in’ in comparison to the total mailboxes, and you see there is a huge disparity between the two numbers, it could suggest that there are problems with adoption.
  • Top senders and receivers in Exchange Online. It’s just as important to identify users, departments, or regions which have adopted successfully, and might even be ‘power-users’, as well as those who are lagging behind. This allows you to assess what ‘worked’, as well as adoption strategies that might need more improvement.

The information for all of these key indicators is available in Office 365 using the options we described above, but to get useful, actionable, insights, you need more than just the reports – you have to be able to interact with the data, to filter it by specific parameters, and identify where the problems (and successes) are.

For example, take our Active vs Inactive users report (shown below). You can add filters that show activity by department, and you can order the data by ‘Mailbox Inactive Days’. As you can see here, there are a significant amount of people in the ‘Technical Support’ department who have not accessed their mailbox for over two weeks. Given the period of inactivity, and the nature of these user’s role, this inactivity could be quite concerning. Based on this information, you may choose to investigate this issue further, to identify any concerns or problems which are prohibiting usage.

The advanced filtering enables you to create targeted adoption strategies based on actual usage trends. You can create training plans, or ‘drop-in’ sessions for specific departments or regions (for example, you might notice that an entire location has lower adoption rates than they should). You can also use data trends to A/B test your training and adoption strategies, all you have to do is monitor usage and activity before, during, and after, to assess the effectiveness of different approaches.

The more data you have, the more effective you can be

Having a clear understanding of your Office 365 environment is critical for achieving ongoing success, and reaping the benefits that the service has to offer. Without knowing what’s happened or currently happening, you cannot react to real-time trends or events in your environment, and this insight is the key to developing a truly effective and efficient email eco-system for your organisation. Detailed insight into adoption isn’t just for email, or for the newly migrated – this applies no matter whether your Office 365 deployment is brand new, or long established. As you begin to implement other workloads, like Skype for Business, OneDrive, and SharePoint Online, the importance of understanding adoption only grows bigger.

We all know that knowledge is power. The more data you have, the more knowledgeable you are and as such, the more control you have over your environment.