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How to plan a move to Office 365

How to plan a move to Office 365

If you’re thinking of a move to Office 365, you will need to do a bit of planning first, just to be sure you’re choosing the right options for your business.

Here are 5 things we think you should consider before jumping in feet first!

1. Why do you want to move to Office 365?

To ensure you get what you need from your move, you need to start with some well defined reasons for moving and build a list of benefits that the move to a new system will bring you. It may be something as simple as having full access to and visibility of e-mails on all your devices at any time. For some companies the main reason for the move will be financially led. If this is the case, draw out all of your known costs (per-seat licence costs, software upgrades if required) and get quotations for migration support if required. 

Once you know all the goals you want to hit, you can ensure you’re move will meet them – and you can communicate these to any third parties who may be assisting with your migration.

2. Do you need to work with a Microsoft Partner?

If you’re business has limited IT resources available in-house, or your team has never migrated departments or divisions to Office 365 then you should consider enlisting the help of an external specialist. You don’t need to use a Microsoft Partner, but if you do then you’ll ensure that you’re working with a person or company that has experience in Office 365 – from both a migration and sales perspective. If you’re worried about keeping costs down, find a partner that can assist on a fixed price or per-mailbox basis. 

If working with a local partner would benefit you, you can use Microsoft Pinpoint to find a local Office 365 partner.

Tip: Microsoft have made it easy to become a partner for cloud services, so ask your perspective partner how many migrations they have performed. Even better, look for a partner with Silver or Gold cloud competancy (‘Small & Midmarket Cloud Solutions’ if you’re under 250 staff, or ‘Cloud Productivity’ if you’re a 250+ user business).

3. Which product is right for your business?

Office 365 plans

Microsoft originally made the Office 365 product range a little complicated, with lots of different product/price streams (enterprise, midsize business, small business). The big problem for small business customers was that they were limited to 25 seats, and if they outgrew that plan then they had to undertake a full migration to a larger plan – there was no in-place up-sell or upgrade. 

In recent months, Microsoft have addressed the criticisms and have simplified the offerings. Effectively, most businesses will be looking to choose between the 3 following options:

Office 365 Business Essentials  – Provides full online e-mail hosting (Exchange online), Onedrive business cloud file storage, Lync for voice and messaging, plus Microsoft Office online (a browser based version of Word/Excel/Powerpoint)

Office 365 Business – Provides everything from Business Essentials except e-mail hosting, but adds the full desktop/tablet versions of Microsoft Office (for up to 5 devices per user)

Office 365 Business Premium – Provides everything from the 2 other plans.

Choosing the right products for the right staff members (you can now mix & match for each user, up to 300 seats) will ensure you’re not paying over the odds for a user who just needs an e-mail box.

4. What are your timescales?

If you’re in a hurry to move to Office 365 you should consider a couple of factors that might slow things down:

  • If you’re migrating existing e-mail to the cloud, how much mail do you have and how long will it take to migrate?
  • If your e-mail is hosted in-house, how fast is your outbound broadband? Can you handle the slowdown while e-mail is migrated up to the cloud?
  • Do you have control of (or a control panel for) the DNS servers for your main domain name(s)?
  • Do you need the final stages of a migration to Office 365 to take place on a weekend/Friday night?

5. Do you have a migration plan?

In our experience, one of the most common issues we find when helping companies move to Office 365 is that they have many more e-mail accounts than they think they do. If you find this out at the final stages of migration then this can throw a spanner in the works, as if these mailboxes are important then the monthly 365 costs will increase which can lead to disappointment. 
Producing a proper migration plan, before starting any work, ensures that you know exactly what you currently have, how much your monthly licencing cost will be, and how long the migration will take. It also ensures that there is a plan in place for switching over desktop clients (Outlook needs to be updated to point to Office 365) which includes ensuring the clients have the latest Office updates so they don’t encounter problems on ‘go live’ day. Finally, a good plan covers training or communicating with end-users to ensure that they know how to update their phones/tablets to work with Office 365, and that they are aware of what’s changing and why.
We hope that’s given you some food for thought when planning your Office 365 migration. Good luck, and let us know if you need a hand.

[optin title=”How can 1-Fix help you?” leadlist=”50605″ text=”We are Microsoft Silver Small & Midmarket Cloud Solution partners, which means we’ve done all this before – lots of times. We’d like to give you a free, no obligation migration plan that is bespoke to your business to help you get your move to Office 365 right. Just fill out your details below (e-mail address mandatory) and we’ll be in touch shortly to help you get started.
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