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As Microsoft adds new business apps to Office 365, its popularity and usefulness continues to grow, as does its rate of adoption.

New productivity and collaboration tools such as Microsoft Teams, Groups and Microsoft Planner, streamline and simplify business communication — making a move to Office 365 from another platform even more attractive.

If you are considering or starting to migrate to Office 365, here are five pointers to ease your organization’s move.

1. Take Stock: Examine your current IT infrastructure

Before you embark on a migration, first analyze your current IT infrastructure to check if it can support an Office 365 setup. Get an accurate, up-to-date snapshot of your servers, directory design, network architecture and DNS, connectivity, mail and other client applications, security and compliance solutions, etc. Microsoft provides an automated readiness-checker tool that can help.

2. Plan Well: Align Your Migration to Business Requirements

Planning is central to a successful migration. A checklist to keep in mind:

  • Put together a cross-functional team: The team should span business, engineering, marketing, sales and support to determine service requirements and must-haves.
  • Pick the features you need: Determine which features you want to implement and in what order, and base these requirements on business value.
  • Decide on a suitable migration type: These include a straightforward cutover migration, a Hybrid Deployment, a staged migration, or an IMAP migration. Consider doing a pilot rollout that doesn’t include “high-touch” users.
  • Put a full strategy in place: Outline your needs and the data that you want to move based on your business goals. Some kickstarter questions: Who are the main stakeholders and what would a successful migration look like to them? Do you want to move all your users? Have you gone through all your business data to see where it is? What data and objects can be discarded?

3. Dial an Expert: Benefit from Previous Experience

To avoid making preventable mistakes during your migration to Office 365, speak to people who have already made a successful transition. Their tips can save the day. Moreover, if you want a smoother transition, consider engaging a cloud integrator or consultant. They really help take off the load as they work alongside your team.

4. Prep your Employees: It will Ease the Move

The move to the cloud or to a new platform includes a shift from set processes and norms. Prepare your employees for the move by training them in using the new tools and allaying their apprehensions. Some suggestions:

  • Start with an Internal Champion: A stakeholder champion for the transition will go a long way in getting buy-in across the board and putting company-wide training in place to ease the transition.
  • Onboard Employees Gently: Use simple tutorials, cheat sheets, FAQs and Help Center links to train employees. Most importantly introduce changes incrementally and evangelize their benefits. This will help garner critical employee support for the move and help them make the most of the new tools and features. Have a dedicated email ID that employees can email their migration issues to.
  • Encourage Exploration: Office 365 comes with a ton of exciting features and possibilities. It is a lot more than email. Encourage employees to explore new features and share their benefits in Microsoft Teams.

5. Don’t Skip Security: Backup and Restore is a Lifesaver

Office 365 is second to none when it comes to security, and does an expert job of protecting your data from accidents and losses within their control – like failures caused by a natural disaster. However, it cannot protect you from mishaps that happen on your side of things, leaving you vulnerable to data loss caused by several risk factors such as accidental/malicious deletions, sync errors, malware and hacking. The cloud is just as susceptible, if not more susceptible to data loss than on-premise systems. You need to protect your data in the cloud, as you are ultimately responsible for your data.

Why add the stress of data loss to your migration?