June 26, 2018

Top 5 Mistakes to Avoid When Migrating to Office 365


Hostway Team

An email migration gone wrong can lead to significant business costs, lost productivity, and frustration between you and customers. We’ve seen several businesses throughout the years who have tried to migrate on their own, or who have had issues working with providers who don’t truly understand their needs or Office 365. To help you avoid some of those mishaps, we’d like to share the top five mistakes to avoid when migrating to Office 365.

  1. Going in Blind

Performing a thorough discovery of your current IT environment is a crucial first step in any migration process. The discovery should be considered an investment of time, because the accuracy of information plays a significant part in the migration timeline. Further, the discovery should investigate:

  • Mailbox settings
  • Company contacts
  • Distribution groups
  • Specific permissions
  • Shared mailboxes
  • Resource mailboxes
  • Where the DNS is managed

Because of the differences between Office 365 and the various versions of Exchange, there may also be some limitations or specific settings to keep in mind. By working with an experienced hosting provider who can guide you through a thorough discovery of your current IT environment prior to the migration, you can avoid hiccups or delays during the migration process.

  1. Misjudging the Amount of Time Needed

The amount of time your migration will take is largely determined by the amount of data you need to move. This means that without a complete calculation of the amount of data you have, you will not be able to properly estimate the completion time or forewarn your users of when the switch to the new system is taking place.
For instance, Hostway recently performed a migration for a client with 1,000+ mailboxes and approximately 2 TB of data to move. Based on this information, we were able to inform the customer that the migration would run for 20 days in the background of their IT system, allowing them to make arrangements for the final switchover.
Because the customer provided an accurate data amount, we were able to properly estimate the time frame and schedule their migration outside of regular business hours.

  1. Service Disruption

It’s important to schedule the migration for a time when it is least likely to cause an email service disruption so that network users won’t miss emails or be locked out of the system during normal business hours, which can lead to lost productivity and higher costs. For this reason, the DNS cutover is usually best planned in the evening on the last day of the business week. This allows everyone to prepare for the change and come in the following week to a new email system.
Because mail flow is highest Monday to Friday, Hostway usually schedules migrations to occur over the weekend, with the DNS cutover taking place late Friday or early Saturday. Not all business are alike, however, which is why Hostway's specialists work with each client to find a migration time that works best for each organization.

  1. Surprising End Users

In any migration, the main goal should be a smooth transition with little to no impact on your users. In order to make this happen, your IT department should communicate with all employees to prepare them for the change, set expectations, and communicate next steps. Introduce your users to the new environment (which could include a new Outlook client), then provide the URL to use for browser access to Outlook and new login credentials if those have been changed.
Users should also be aware that for a limited time, Outlook will not offer autocomplete suggestions for recipient email addresses until the new cache builds up. While all other features of the new system should work right away, there may be some minor configurations necessary, such as Outlook client settings. Finally, be sure to set expectations about potential downtime, even if it will occur over the weekend. Even if the migration itself is seamless, surprising end users about these facets has the potential to bring productivity to a halt.

  1. Underestimating the Time and Effort Involved

Migration always seems easier than it really is. For that reason, we always recommend getting help from an expert rather than learning for yourself and risking costly mistakes. With so many factors to consider, it’s likely that something will be missed by all but the most experienced IT professionals.
For example, if an organization is using custom user permissions, these new permissions need to be set up in Office 365 well in advance. This is part of the complete discovery of your current environment that an experienced hosting provider will guide you through so they can replicate your current environment as closely as possible in Office 365. Other things that can easily be missed include global contacts, distribution groups, and resource mailboxes, like those used for room or equipment booking.
Ready to Get Started?
From small businesses to enterprise organizations, Hostway has helped customers of all sizes migrate their email systems to Microsoft Office 365. While any big change is bound to result in challenges or surprises, migration can be relatively easy if you work with a hosting provider who has the experience, know-how, and skill set in-house. To leverage our 15+ years of Microsoft expertise and get start-to-finish guidance through the entire migration process, call us for a free consultation at 1-888-545-8591.

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