Novice’s Guide to Successfully Migrating to Office 365


To ensure the success of your Office 365 migration project, you need to make sure you achieve the following objectives:

  • No data is lost during the transition process;
  • No system downtime – your business still needs to operate; and
  • It’s done quickly and cost-effectively.

In other words, an Office 365 migration that is stress-free! These objectives can be achieved by following these 7 steps:

1. Review your current email system

If you’re like most people, the primary reason for migrating to Office 365 is because you want to move your email to the cloud. Accordingly, it’s important to start by collating the technical details on your current email server and run an audit report that identifies all the active users and groups as well as the size of their email boxes.

2. Review your current Microsoft licensing status

Office 365 has number of technical prerequisites that you need to be aware of before you migrate. The main one that catches people out is that Windows XP and Office 2003 are not supported. As well as making sure your operating system and browser will work with Office 365, it’s also important to take stock of the versions and licenses of the Microsoft Office software you already have. Like most organisations, you are probably using a mixture of Microsoft Office versions, which is just fine – but it’s important to understand what you have currently so that you can make the right decision on which mix of Office 365 plans are best suited for your organization.

3. Review your current data storage locations and size

Office 365 offers two main locations for the storing of your data – Microsoft OneDrive and SharePoint. In order to make an informed decision on how best to store your data once you migrate to Office 365, it’s essential to review and record the locations and size of your data.

4. Decide on the best mix of Office 365 plans

You’re now at the point where you have information on your email system, you’ve got a detailed report on your current Microsoft licensing and you know how much data you have to migrate. Congratulations – you’re now at the point where you can review the different Office 365 business and enterprise plans and decide which ones are best for your organization. Note that Microsoft now allow Office 365 plans to be mixed and matched which is great news for all businesses large and small. It means you can maximise your existing investment in recent versions of Microsoft Office as well as cater for the different requirements your staff may have, depending on their roles.

5. Technical preparation for your Office 365 migration

It’s now time to get all your ducks in a row and that means collating all the technical details you will require to conduct a smooth migration. For example, the last thing you want to do is start your Office 365 migration and then find out you don’t have the right username and password to update your domain name record. An important part of this step is to update all computer software to the minimum specification and also consider whether you want to change the design of your email groups and the way you structure your data.

6. Perform your Office 365 migration

The big day has arrived and it’s time to start your Office 365 migration. This is the critical step, but with the lead-up work all done, you should feel confident that the process will go smoothly. Typically the email system and data is migrated over a weekend to minimize the impact on internet performance and to reduce the impact on normal business operations.

7. Perform a post-migration cleanup

With the actual migration complete, there are still a number of clean-up tasks to perform before the project can be deemed a success. The number and types of tasks will differ for each migration but a common example is the decommissioning of the existing Exchange software from your server. This not only reclaims disk space, but it will also increase the performance of your server and ensure that your server runs reliably going forward.

Is a DIY Office 365 Migration a Good Idea?

As you can see these seven steps collectively require considerable knowledge of your existing systems as well as a good understanding of the Office 365 platform. There are a number of third-party software tools that can be used to assist in this process – the tricky part is to know which ones are of value. In addition you need to carefully consider whether it is worth using internal staff to learn and perform a one-off multi-step project.

It may well be that the best way to assure your organization of a successful Office 365 migration is to use the services of a Microsoft Partner that has Office 365 certifications and real-world experience in performing Office 365 migrations.

Darryl McAllister is a Consultant at NetCare365 – – a company which specializes in taking all the stress out of migrating your email and your data across to Office365.

And if you’re already on Office365, he provides free monthly Ask the Expert webinars and free advice on SharePoint apps to help you get more business value out of your Office365 subscription.

To learn more about Darryl, follow him on Twitter –

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