How Ability Beyond Cut Infrastructure Costs With a Hybrid Office 365 Migration

    For many nonprofits, staying ahead of the technology curve falls low on the list of priorities. That’s what Ability Beyond found when it faced the decision to upgrade or replace its onsite servers.

    As a nonprofit that provides residential services, job training and placement and educational and recreational opportunities to people with a wide range of disabilities, Ability Beyond relies heavily on communication to connect people with the resources they need.

    But Ability Beyond’s onsite Exchange 2010 mailboxes were getting old. And replacing or upgrading the company’s servers would be expensive, said IT Liaison Specialist Grayson Eberly. Instead of paying for costly hardware and routine backups, the organization needed a solution that would reduce costs in the long term.

    Consolidating IT Resources With Office 365

    After receiving a grant from Microsoft, Ability Beyond chose to move forward with an Office 365 hybrid migration to eliminate the costs of staying on-premises and allow admins to move mailboxes to and from the cloud.

    However, Ability Beyond needed to complete the migration within 60 days while enabling its 1,330 users to remain productive. Beyond cutting costs and minimizing the impact on business, Ability Beyond also sought to:

    • Leverage the advanced security features in Office 365.
    • Streamline and consolidate all email and scheduling into a single secure solution.
    • Improve collaboration throughout the organization.
    • Automate configuration of Outlook and Skype for Business (now Microsoft Teams).

    Cutting Through the Complexity of a Hybrid Migration With AgileAscend

    With so many moving pieces, Grayson knew the migration would require extensive planning. The company needed an IT consultant team to lead the migration and provide trusted guidance along the way.

    To find the right fit, Grayson interviewed 3 Microsoft partners and found that Agile IT’s AgileAscend migration process offered the best package for the price – providing the team with free support and one rolled-up migration fee.

    Learn the 4 traits every company should look for in an IT support provider

    After agreeing on the migration goals and expectations, the next step was ironing out the migration logistics. To thwart potential issues, the team migrated 2 pilot groups staggered over a couple weeks.

    Agility Beyond also needed public folders to be migrated last, which proved difficult because it relies so heavily on calendars and reserving rooms for day-to-day productivity. The team had to determine who wasn’t using the calendars/public folders and work with Agile IT to migrate those users first. After solving the public folders issue, the rest of the migration went smoothly, Grayson said. Users didn’t experience much interruption during the process, and the company met the 60-day deadline despite some challenges.

    Sending out instructional videos, documentation and email reminders also helped employees stay ahead of potential problems or questions and lessen the load on IT. Of the 1,330 users, only about 100 reached out to ask a question — a win in Grayson’s book.

    Unlocking the Benefits of Office 365 and AgileAscend Post-Migration

    By the end of the migration, Ability Beyond was equipped with regular communication and updates across projects, teams and customers. All users can now send and receive email, and all email, tasks, calendar and contacts have been successfully moved to Office 365.

    Agile IT also helped decommission the company’s old servers, provided video education for users and trained administrators on Office 365 — including how to auto configure mobile devices, best practices for SharePoint data retention and backup and steps to configure SMPT relay for devices and applications. “The team was very helpful on the technical side,” Grayson said.

    Now, the Ability Beyond team also enjoys auto discovery for Outlook and Skype for Business along with password synchronization to Office 365. But before Ability Beyond can begin to fully utilize the collaboration-enhancing features of Office 365, it needs to get users on board with this new technology.

    Overcoming Technology Adoption Issues in the Workplace

    To consolidate the Ability Beyond’s server structure, Grayson was eager to leverage the different components of the Microsoft cloud suite — such as Skype for Business, SharePoint and OneDrive.

    But Grayson also didn’t want to overwhelm users with too much new technology, so the nonprofit is starting off slow to get the team comfortable utilizing each aspect of Office 365. The team is currently undergoing a SharePoint pilot and also plans to implement Skype for Business soon.

    Easing team members into the Office 365 solutions has helped Ability Beyond overcome the inevitable resistance to change in the workplace. Since the migration, Grayson has noticed a drop in the number of Outlook issues. Users also no longer complain about needing more mailbox space, unlike with on-premises Exchange 2010.

    Choosing an IT Partner for the Future

    Moving from on-premises to Office 365 freed Ability Beyond from paying for costly IT infrastructure, upgrades and backups.

    With 60 days of free support from Agile IT, both users and admins can overcome issues quickly and focus on the more important cause at hand — helping its members. Now, fully migrated, Grayson said she would absolutely recommend Office 365 and Agile IT to others in her space. The AgileAscend migration process is designed to ensure data is moved with a high degree of accuracy, all email profiles are configured correctly and you have the best migration experience possible. If you’re in need of a proven partner and advisor to lead your Office 365 migration, schedule a time to chat with an Agile IT rep today.

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