The 3 Phases of a Successful Office 365 Migration

A successful, enterprise-level Office 365 migration requires planning, governance and resources.

Office 365 is supposed to be an easy solution to the problem of on-premises software. But migrating to Office 365 requires high degrees of planning, governance and resources to get the migration right.

There are some good practices that can help you with the planning and governance needed to get Office 365 right. These fall into three broad categories:

  1. Preparation
  2. Foundation building, and
  3. Execution

Phase 1: Preparation – Six Steps

Do not underestimate the level of planning an Office 365 migration will take. There are six steps of preparation that help organizations succeed with an Office 365 migration:

  1. Define migration goals
  2. Align stakeholders
  3. Assess content
  4. Assess policies
  5. Develop your migration plan
  6. Develop your change management plan

1. Define migration goals

Whether it’s risk reduction or IT cost containment or other motivating factors, organizations need a clear and concise understanding of what they hope to achieve by migrating to Office 365.  

2. Align stakeholders

You need a unified approach to the migration that will likely include the following groups: IT, legal, information security, privacy, records management, compliance, and representatives of business departments and functions.

3. Assess content

You will need to determine what type of content you have, who owns it and for what purpose. Data-driven decision making comes from your understanding of the volume and source of information.

4. Assess policies

This is where your efforts should be defensible from a compliance perspective, with an eye to litigation, privacy, information security, and laws such as OSHA or HIPAA.

5. Develop a migration plan

By this point, you should have the information you need to create a high-level migration plan. You should turn now to developing the goals, approach (how to execute the migration), and timeline.

6. Develop a change management plan

If your organization has a dedicated change management function you may not need to handle this yourself, but you’ll still need to provide the background about the migration and guidance for stakeholders.

Phase 2: Foundation Building

It’s important not to go directly from planning to execution without addressing foundational work. In Doculabs’ experience, there are six foundational components:

  1. Work plan development
  2. Creating a defensible migration playbook creation
  3. Policy remediation
  4. Compliant standard operating procedures (SOPs) development
  5. Definition of required Office 365 capabilities
  6. Change management design

1. Work plan development

To lay the foundation for a successful Office 365 migration, you need a work plan that contains all the specific projects required to execute the migration, including timelines, dependencies, resources, and the necessary level of effort.

2. Defensible migration playbook creation

A defensible migration playbook is a record of migration requirements and how they were defined.

3. Policy remediation

It’s one thing to review and assess policies gaps. It’s quite another thing—and very necessary—to close those gaps.

4. Compliant standard operating procedures (SOPs)

To demonstrate consistent adherence to policies and playbook, you need to develop standard operating procedures—instructions that tell you the steps to follow, including desktop guidelines and operating instructions.

5. Definition of required Office 365 capabilities

Defining capabilities is standard IT project management. The best efforts begin by identifying the usage scenarios Office 365 will need to support. Answer the following question: “What will end users be doing with Office 365?”

6. Change management design

Take the change management planning you’ve already completed and design a program to support a successful Office 365 migration.

Phase 3: How to Execute

With the planning and foundation building activities complete, you’re ready to execute your Office 365 migration. Across multiple engagements we’ve seen these four activities contribute to successful execution:

  1. Enterprise file scan and assessment
  2. Stale and junk content remediation
  3. Office 365 future state design
  4. Change management execution

1. Enterprise file scan and assessment

In the planning process, you performed content assessment on a meaningful subset of the content. For the migration, do a full scan for all criteria across all repositories.

2. Stale and junk content remediation

You should reduce the volume of content in your Office 365 migration by excluding stale and junk content—unused content or content with low or no business value.

3. Office 365 future state design

To design an effective future state in Office 365, start with the capabilities definition you created during planning. This tells you the Office 365 products you’ll be implementing.

4. Change management execution

To have a better chance of meeting a deadline, you’d be better off increasing your change management efforts.

Want to learn more? Download the white paper for further detail.

We've covered the basics in this post, but you can download our Office 365 white paper for comprehensive details.

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Rich Medina
Doculabs
Doculabs consultants offer in-depth expertise in information management and information security across a number of industries, including financial services, insurance, energy, manufacturing, and life sciences. Our recommendations are based on our experience and empirical data from hundreds of consulting engagements over more than 25 years. As trusted advisors, we provide our clients recommendations that are completely objective.