Sponsored: Office 365 Migration Plan – The Common Pitfalls to Avoid

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This post is sponsored by Quadrotech, you can learn all about their Office 365 solutions here.

I’ve been a consultant for well over a decade and one thing that has remained constant, is customers’ desire to migrate to the newest and greatest software. And you’d think that having been involved in as many migrations as I have, there wouldn’t be any surprises anymore. But another thing that has remained equally as constant throughout my career is all of the new wrinkles each customer brings to their migration. In this post, I’ll cover some of the common pitfalls I try to keep customers from falling into. You might see some things that may crop up when you migrate your company to Office 365.  

My experience is that the issues that trip up migrations are about 30% technical and 70% people issues. The good news is that the people issues are easier to deal with proactively. Let’s talk about those issues. 

One user issue that often sneaks up on IT departments during migration is all the places that users have squirreled away data. IT knows where data is stored in the common locations. Those can be locations like Exchange, SharePoint sites, and file shares. Unfortunately, users can be very ingenious in where they store data and share it. After planning and migration has already started, IT often starts hearing murmurs about data in Dropbox, Google Drive, shoe boxes, and other nefarious locations. As your company makes its way to the cloud, data security and governance become more important, so getting all these rogue locations wrangled is very important.  

To do that, IT can monitor outbound connections to these services to get an idea who is using what. More importantly though, they can open a dialog with groups as they migrate them. Make it easy for them to come clean about where their data is and help them migrate it to the right place in your shiny new Office 365 environment. Let them see how wonderful it is. 

On the flip side, some groups will want to migrate all their data, and I mean all of their data. There are a lot of reasons why this might be a bad idea, so it’s important that IT get a plan in place for which data makes it to the cloud, and which data gets left in the old environment and eventually gets left by the wayside. File server space is cheap, so there wasn’t much penalty to keeping those Word documents that were created when Bill Gates was CEO of Microsoft. But bringing them forward means migration times are longer and could cost your company money if you go over your storage quota in Office 365.  

Some companies are also storing sensitive data that is a legal liability, and migration is a good time to talk to your company’s legal department to get their input. In some cases, your legal department may want unnecessary documents removed to reduce liability in the event of a lawsuit. On the other hand, based on your industry’s regulations, there may be documents that must be maintained for a certain length of time. It’s important to have these discussions with legal early and often to make sure no one gets into any hot water. 

The nefarious dangers of PST files are well-known, and there’s a serious need for the eradication of PSTs from Office 365 tenants so identifying and centralizing these ticking time bombs should be a priority. 

After you’ve talked to legal, it’s important to give your business users guidance on what should get migrated and what shouldn’t. If there’s not a business case for the data, they should consider parting ways with it. I’ve also found it’s a good approach to make them positively affirm which data gets migrated, as opposed to making them pick out data that shouldn’t be migrated. I commonly create a location for each group to move the data that should get migrated. This disrupts some business practices while the documents are being gone through, but it reduces the amount of cruft that gets copied into Office 365. That’s a good thing. 

Finally, in making the move to the cloud, there are some new things that IT must consider. The obvious one is bandwidth. After your company is fully living the cloud lifestyle every PowerPoint document that gets created takes network bandwidth. Every 100 MB Excel spreadsheet your Accounting department lovingly crafts is going across your Internet connection. It all adds up. Before you move to the cloud, and even before you start migrating to the cloud, have a good idea how saturated your current internet connection is, and have some estimates on how much traffic your move to Office 365 is going to add to your existing traffic.  

Storage, while not a new concern, will be a different concern. Once you move to Office 365 it’s almost too easy to buy more storage when you need it. Before you migrate to Office 365 make sure you know how much storage your tenant will have, how much you’ll need for migration, and how much you plan to grow year over year. You should also start to plan how to handle approving and paying for extra storage when the need arises.  

Management is another overlooked area when moving to the cloud. Once your company is firmly entrenched in the cloud, you no longer need to monitor servers or other infrastructure. Microsoft takes care of that. But you still need to monitor and manage other resources like network, licensing, logins, storage, and data proliferation, among others. Make sure your migration plan includes investigating how your management needs have changed, and what tools you’ll need to address those changes.  

I’m one of those weirdos that enjoys migrating data. For me it’s the perfect balance of comfortable work I’ve done dozens of times and figuring out solutions to problems I haven’t seen before. Migrating to Office 365 is a different beast than any of the on-prem migrations I had ever done. I’ve shared some of the new challenges with you in this post. I hope seeing what I’ve learned will help your migration go more smoothly, so you can start enjoying Office 365 right away. 

If you’re at the planning stage, I highly recommend Jason Jacobo’s Data Migration Risk Assessment, as it outlines all considerations to be aware of, helping you get a firm grip on objectives, what questions to ask, and how to communicate change to end-users.