Microsoft has shot the lights out with Office 365 which has become its fastest growing product ever. And, with the recent introduction of local data centres in Sydney and Melbourne, there has never been a better time to migrate your business to get the advantages enjoyed by over 160 million people worldwide.
However, before jumping in take note of these five critical considerations which will ensure your migration goes according to plan.
Australia is still in the midst of the roll-out of the National Broadband Network. That means there are a lot of companies which still don’t have reasonable access to business grade internet.
Office365 is a cloud-based service and that means good internet connectivity is essential. Unfortunately, without realising it, many businesses make the switch to only to discover service is too slow. This means a poor experience which and leaves people wondering why they made the switch in the first place.
When this happens, some companies add improved internet service after the upgrade – an unbudgeted cost which adds to the overhead of the migration. Given that fibre internet can easily run to over $500 a month, the extra cost can most unwelcome.
Therefore, the first step in an Office 365 migration is to understand your internet and bandwidth needs and, crucially, what is available at your premises
While much of the workflow in Office365 is familiar to Microsoft users, there will be changes in workflow – don’t underestimate the impact this can have on users. For example, the habit of sending large attachments to multiple people in the office can incur a bandwidth hit. When the server was in the office, the email never left the building. However, in Office365, it goes out to the internet and is downloaded by every user.
A simple process change is to educate people on how to send a link (like a shortcut) instead – a tiny message pointing to the file on OneDrive or Sharepoint.
There are host of small shifts which, when implemented, will improve staff productivity and efficiency – but if they continue to operate in the old way, they might question what all the fuss about cloud and Office365 is all about.
The real power of Office 365 is collaboration (it’s not just a cheaper way to do email!) All the applications in the suite are designed to put information at the fingertips of your staff whether in the office, in front of clients or working remotely.
Every Office 365 migration should include demonstrations of how it facilitates working together through online meetings, shared documents and social communication.
Our advice is to identify an internal ‘Office 365 Champion’ who can reinforce the collaborative advantages of the solution throughout your business.
Whilst Office365 is significantly more secure than many traditional small business networks, there is still the need to understand your own company’s needs.
After migration to Office365, some companies might find their system configured to allow all staff unrestricted access to every document in the company. Typically, this is not ideal as some of that information is confidential.
Migration planning should include a discussion and implementation of access policies, which can be structured in accordance with roles, by individual or groups of individuals. The policy can be amended over time based on evolving requirements.
In addition, certain Office365 plans allow for additional layers of protection to meet more stringent laws such as those like Sarbanes Oxley, HIPAA, ISO 27001 etc.
A further note on security is that the Australian Signals Directorate (ASD), which approves cloud services for use by the Australian Government, greenlighted both Office365 and Azure in April 2015.
Existing Software Compatibility
The last point is one that many skip on an Office 365 migration because their partner didn’t spend enough time planning and analysing their environment. Businesses routinely have ‘day to day’ software that everyone knows about (like a finance package or sales quoting tool). However, there is just as often some obscure application which is only occasionally used for a specific task.
A trouble-free migration depends on a complete analysis of the full environment to test for compatibility of all applications with Office 365. This is essential to keep things working smoothly, with any updates or alternative solutions sorted out in advance rather than reactively at the last minute.
Applications which are often overlooked include email signature software, marketing tools, custom programmes and security/alarm monitoring packages.
There’s a reason for the runaway popularity of Office365 and migrating to cloud – but to make it a great solution for your business, it is worth doing some planning and working with experienced partner to expose the full benefits. Be sure to educate your decision makers and you may find the information below helpful!