Cloud computing can mean big changes for small to medium enterprises. From small start-up businesses, to established small and medium-sized enterprises, an increasing number of organisations are becoming aware of the potential benefits of migrating their email and collaborative applications to the cloud. Many of these enterprises are looking to Microsoft’s Office 365 portfolio to remove the burden of managing these applications and services in-house, whilst realising the cost-savings of their subscription model and powering flexible working for their employees.

However, for most companies migrating apps and services – particularly email systems – can result in a long, complex and expensive project if the migration strategy is not planned properly or executed using purpose-built migration tools. A poorly managed cloud migration process can result in prolonged downtime and disruption for employees, reduced productivity and in the worst scenario, critical data business information could be put at risk.

To minimise potential issues, careful planning prior to migration is essential. Click to Tweet

While these risks may deter many smaller businesses from moving to Office 365, disruption can be mitigated and disasters averted if organisations pay careful attention to each stage of the migration process. From preparing and gaining insight beforehand, to automating key migration processes during the transition and on to managing the new environment securely afterwards, businesses can enjoy a smooth cloud adoption experience. In this article, I’ll share some tips on how to migrate to Microsoft Office 365 without any major headaches.

  • Before Office 365 migration

A major concern for any organisation is the downtime associated with the migration to Office 365, as time spent unproductively can cost the business income. To minimise potential issues, careful planning prior to migration is essential. Businesses should conduct an in-depth pre-migration assessment including an inventory of all users, mailboxes and apps. This will enable IT teams to determine specific migration requirements and estimate projected costs before launching into the process.

Migrating to Office 365 provides many small to medium sized enterprises with the ability to scale the number of licences needed based on the number of people being employed at any given time. Careful assessments can determine the exact Office 365 licencing costs and leverage the advantage of a flexible subscription-based model, which is a fundamental advantage for a smaller businesses.

Planning ahead for Office 365 migration also helps identify what within the businesses does not need to be migrated to the new environment. During the planning process, businesses should take the opportunity to archive, and importantly, back-up all on-premises data, not only for peace of mind but to allow for recovery in the minutes during migration.

  • During Office 365 migration

During the migration process small to medium sized businesses should also take advantage of available software tools to help speed up and simplify migration to Office 365. With key migration processes scheduled and automated by specialised software, the transition is streamlined and IT teams’ work time (not to mention working costs) are dramatically reduced.

Migration tools also allow IT departments to monitor the process through regular status reports, and are useful for businesses owners who will be keen to know that the Office 365 migration is running smoothly. Most importantly, migration software tools ensure that employees maintain productivity and any accidental data loss during migration can be recovered. This is facilitated by the temporary coexistence between existing legacy systems and the new Office 365 environment whilst the process is being conducted.

  • After Office 365 migration

Businesses must be able to stay in control of the new environment. Here software tools and automation can again be helpful to simplify users’ licences across Office 365 and offer a single sign-on whether on premises or in the cloud. SME’s also should ensure their employees are accessing Office 365 within a secure environment and make sure that staff understand their responsibilities too. The way to achieve this, without any headaches, is usually for SME’s to include the applications within an existing unified authentication and authorization strategy, rather than building dedicated security around Office 365.


One small business that utilised Office 365 migration solutions for SharePoint is electronics company Instron Corporation, which has European headquarters based in Buckinghamshire. Over the course of the deployment the team migrated over 250 gigabytes of content to Office 365 with zero downtime, or impact for end users. Prior to migration Instron Corporation was feeling the constraints and limitations of its native tools. With very limited resources internally, and a lack of experience to manage the migration to Office 365 confidently, the risk of lost data, downtime and disruptions for employees was a real concern. Utilising SharePoint migration software, Instron Corporation was able to realise the benefits of migrating to the cloud, with zero impact on end users.

Smaller businesses or those with limited IT capacity need not be afraid of making the jump to Office 365 and transitioning their messaging and collaboration functionality to the cloud. With well-informed preparation and dedicated software tools, IT teams and the wider employee base can experience a zero impact migration and get on with growing their business in the cloud era.

 

 

 

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