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Moving to Office 365: Researching your Migration

16 Aug 2016 by Emma Robinson

Office 365 migration is a big task, no matter the size of your organisation. Almost no IT department can approach a migration on a ‘greenfield’ basis where they can design the perfect environment from scratch. So you have to manage legacy equipment, your current configurations, newly redundant on-premises solutions and the sheer volume of data you’ve collected that will need to be shifted over, and it can begin to feel like an impossible task.
So where do you start?
The most successful projects start with good research and even better planning, and Office 365 migration is no different. Here are a few things to think about while you’re in the consideration stage:
1. Define your requirements:
Consider how your existing environment works, review current IT tasks, responsibilities, and take an inventory of what you have and where it is in the product/software life cycle. Get your whole team involved, and ask what tasks and responsibilities dominate your IT resources? What do you spend your time doing? What works well, and what could be done better or quicker? By evaluating your current set up, you can isolate key pain points, as well as any successful areas of operation. This will allow you to have a clear understanding of your current strengths, weaknesses, assets and operations as you head towards migration.
2. Assess your costs:
Calculate the overall costs of your current IT operations, then calculate it again, removing any software, hardware or legacy IT that will be replaced or retired during the migration. Be careful to make realistic assumptions about when you can retire legacy systems and software – it probably won’t be as quick as you think – but having a clear view of where you want to get to, and what succeeding means (especially in terms of cost savings) is important in the planning stages. Make sure that you identify the areas that require more spending, maintenance, and time, and the areas where costs are already very streamlined. Office 365 has clear cost benefits, which is one of the main aspects which motivates organisations to migrate, but before you get there, it is important to know what your current running costs are.  This understanding allows you to use your current IT costs as a benchmark against your migration project budget and ongoing post-migration spend. A detailed cost assessment enables you to budget more accurately, breakdown costs, and calculate your ROI for your project and beyond.
3. What do you use, what will you need? 
A whole new environment is likely to require a whole new set of tools. If you rush into migration it’s easy to miss the little things that you rely on now, which will be incompatible and may not work. The best way to avoid this is by making a list of all the software you use every day, week, month, year, and then research replacement options. Alternatively, list the responsibilities you have for the same intervals, and research solutions for these. This is a great way to identify unused software, as well as understand what your team regularly relies on. Office 365 has some fantastic features which are not available on-premises, so check where there is built-in capability and where there isn’t. Bear in mind, amongst other things, your on-premises solutions for reporting, analytics and monitoring may not work with Office 365 – you don’t want to get to the end of the month, quarter, year even, and realise that what you’ve been using in the on-premises world doesn’t work, and you have no tools in place or budget to get them.
4. Where can you save time?
If it is configured and executed well, Office 365 can really alleviate your current time and resource pressures – so why not take measures to maximise this? There are loads of intelligent, high performance applications that integrate with your new environment and enable you to outsource routine duties, and minimise recurrent administrative tasks. This frees up IT staff time for more important projects, allowing them to be more innovative, proactive and productive. Identify where time is being lost to routine or recurrent tasks and research options to minimise or eradicate this loss. By including these applications in your migration plan from the start, you can implement the application in a fresh environment, and benefit from them right from the beginning, rather than identifying these benefits once your environment is configured, and operations have started.
Once you’ve thought about the areas above, you should find it much easier to tackle the next big step: The Plan. This next stage will be completely unique for each organisation, as it should be highly detailed, tailored to your own goals, timelines and environment.
Cogmotive is the leading global provider of enterprise level reporting and analytics applications for Office 365. Find out more now.