Present recently completed a huge project: the successful migration of Exchange to Office 365 for a multinational in the security industry. As the case study will demonstrate, the difficulties of such a process are often not technical, but rather logistical.
In fact, it is generally believed that the most difficult part of a migration process is the technical element, but in reality, communication and process management are at the heart of the operation.
Let's first look at the reasons why the company migrated to Office 365, how the process unfolded and the benefits it gained from this complete migration.
The context : faulty server needed replacing quickly
The multinational recently acquired another company that also carried out operations on a global scale. The latter worked with overloaded on-site Exchange servers, which had become slow, unstable and were causing several problems.
The conclusion was obvious: the situation had to be remedied as quickly as possible.
There were two choices: repair or upgrade the Exchange infrastructure or migrate to an agile and reliable cloud platform, Office 365. After analyzing the options and taking into account the needs of the company, the choice quickly became apparently; Office 365. This was the most logical option, especially since the parent company already had an internal strategy of migrating to the Microsoft platform.
The challenge of users all over the world
Since the acquired company employs people from a dozen different locations around the world, there was a significant logistical challenge. The migration of all these remote users, while based in Montreal, required excellent communication and relationship management skills.
On the technical side, the main difficulty lay in the need to migrate the data quickly, due to the instability of Exchange on which all users depended. It was also necessary to proceed outside of business hours, so as not to hamper operations.
Finally, the whole process had to be expertly orchestrated because many users were interdependent. Thus, the timing of the user’s email migration to a new platform was very important.
Preparation is the foundation of the migration process
Together with the company's in-house experts, Present developed the migration strategy to Office 365. Once approved by senior management, the project was launched.
As in any major project, preparation is the key to success! The first step was to put in place the right migration tools.
After conducting pilot tests to make sure everything worked, we were now ready to begin migrating the data and then all users. As there was over 300 users, we proceeded by group.
Communication at the heart of success
As a result of this technical preparation, that is, once all the tools are in place, a communication plan was developed. It should be noted that the most important step of any migration is actually communication with users. In fact, with a good strategy, adequate preparation and the right tools for migration, any problems are rarely due to technical difficulties.
First, we must appropriately inform users, explain each step of the project and the benefits for them to migrate to the new platform. This is the way to get their full cooperation and to eliminate their resistance, if any.
It is also important to keep users informed throughout the operation. In a migration project, most problems come from miscommunication, either with the network or with the user as such. Since employees were located in the four corners of the Earth, we had to deal with issues such as unstable Internet connections as well as different time zones.
In this context, strong skills in logistics and human resources have proven to be essential assets!
Conclusions drawn : 3 major benefits
The benefits of Office 365
The ultimate goal of the project was to provide the company with a reliable, agile, highly available and efficient email service. Once the migration was completed, users could see that Office 365 was perfectly aligned with their real needs.
Here are the benefits from migrating to the cloud with Office 365:
- A highly available email service never affected by internal resources;
- Accessibility from anywhere on the planet;
- A much faster processing time than its old servers;
- An agile infrastructure that can grow easily with the business;
- Lower service and maintenance costs.
Over the years, Present has gained extensive experience in field logistics. It is this particular and essential skill that allowed us to carry out this migration efficiently and successfully.
Our external expert point of view allowed us to see the challenges from another angle, to bring new ideas and, by the same token, to propose the best tools and migration strategies for this project.
Development of internal resources
Present's collaboration with the acquired company's migration enabled the parent company to strengthen its in-house expertise. Throughout the process, ongoing communication led to a great deal of knowledge sharing, such as advice during technical support.
Present's expertise also enabled the company's IT to become familiar with the innovative tools on offer. Internal resources were able to migrate the acquired business users to Office 365, leveraging their new knowledge, and prepare them for the parent company's migration.
Preparation, the implementation of the right migration tools and communication are the 3 essential elements for any migration project.
Beyond technical knowledge, the experience in field logistics that Present has acquired over the years is a fundamental skill. Because managing a complex migration process is above all about managing users.