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3 Ways to Ensure a Smooth Office 365 Email Migration Blog Feature
Corey Kaufman

By: Corey Kaufman on May 24th, 2018

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3 Ways to Ensure a Smooth Office 365 Email Migration

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The success rate of any project is due in large part to setting all the right steps in motion.

Migrating your email to Office 365 is no different.

There are a lot of options for migrating to Office 365 these days. You’ve likely seen companies and tools that advertise free Office 365 migrations. You’ve also probably seen quotes for a few thousand dollars. Figuring out the differences between them can be confusing.

That’s why we’ve put together this article outlining 3 things to consider when choosing how you’ll migrate to Office 365. You’ll be able to make an educated decision on which provider or process will serve you best.

1. Clarify Migration Timing and Expected Email Downtime

Understanding what it means to migrate, or the migration process, is the first thing to define. Much like birds in the fall, migrating from North to South, your email will likely be moving from a local (or on-premise) server to Microsoft’s hosted Exchange.

It sounds simple, but it’s more complicated than copying and pasting email from one place to another. It is also more time-consuming.

No matter which tool or service you might be considering, there are some factors to keep in mind.

Internet Speed and Migration Timing

When the migration process starts, you’ll be moving everything on your email server to the hosted Exchange server. The speed that this can be done at relies on the speed of two Internet connections – yours and Microsoft’s.

That’s why companies usually choose to do this at night or over the weekend when Internet usage at your office will be minimal. Depending on the size of your organization, this process is also usually done in batches, not all at once.

Potential Downtime

Depending on the migration process you choose, email downtime can occur during this migration process – but it doesn’t have to.

Every company’s tolerance for email downtime is different. You’ll need to make sure the tool or service you choose aligns with your company’s specific downtime requirements.

Doing the email migration on the weekend or outside of business hours will likely increase the overall cost of the project. However, if email downtime is not acceptable, the price difference maybe be worth it.

Start the planning process early to avoid any delays or downtime. Ask your provider pointed questions around when the migration will happen and what level of email downtime you can expect – Will I be receiving new mail during this time? Will I have access to older email? Will I be able to send email?

Clarifying these items will set your expectations, and will help you make the right choice for your organization.

2. Have a Clear Plan to Reconfigure All Devices

Now that your email has been migrated from one server to the other, your devices must be updated to find your email in its new location.

All your devices, computers, tablets, phones, etc. have been programmed to communicate with a particular address that holds your emails. Now that your email has moved, your devices need the new address.

The kicker here is that not all services or tools for email migration include configuration as part of their package. But as you can tell, without this, you won’t be able to get to your email once the data is migrated.

For a smooth transition, talk to your provider about who will be configuring the devices and when it will be completed. Ask them to be clear about your involvement in the process, and what your employees might need to do to be prepared.

In some organizations, giving employees the information to reconfigure their own devices might be just fine. In others, that’s asking for trouble. The decision to do it yourself or have the migration provider do it is up to you.

As you can likely predict, the cost of the project will change based on the provider’s level of involvement in this process.

3. Define What Success Looks Like

Do you have a clear idea of what should be done by the end of your migration process?

For many people, a “successful migration” means that the email changed locations and you didn’t even notice. It’s just business as usual.

But here’s the thing: your vision of success and the migration provider’s (or migration tool’s) vision of success might not align.

In some cases, the migration project is considered complete by the provider when the emails have been moved to Office 365 – NOT when you’re actually able to send and receive email.

Some tools only offer data migration, leaving you to figure out how to reconfigure all the devices. Others require downtime or email accessibility in waves throughout the process.

That’s why it’s important to get clarity on what “done” and a “successful migration” look like for all of the options you’re considering before making a decision. This will help you figure out which option will be best for your needs.

Walk through the process from start to finish with each one of your options to get the big picture. Know what you are signing up for so that you can set realistic goals. This will help you avoid large, unexpected surprises along the way.

The bottom line: ask a lot of questions.

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About Corey Kaufman

Corey is Director of Client Development for Accent Computer Solutions, Inc. He earned his B.S. in Business Management and Political Science from San Diego State University in 2007. In his role as Director of Client Development, Corey leads the Technology Consulting and Client Success teams, and works closely with all other departments to ensure clients can achieve their business goals without technology getting in the way. Corey is also a Registered Practitioner (RP) for CMMC consulting.