Does Your Office 365 Implementation Plan Have These 3 Steps?

Whether you’re braving an Office 365 migration on your own or working with an managed IT service provider, your Office 365 implementation must contain some critical factors to ensure success.

At Agile IT, we’ve migrated thousands of companies to Office 365. Here are three critical phases that can lead your migration astray if not properly planned:

Pre-Planning for the User Experience

As the IT director, you already know the benefits of migrating to Office 365. But do you understand how the platform will affect each department?

Sure, your team might be acclimated to Outlook. But Office 365 offers much more than email and could shake up the way your team accesses files and tools (both in the office and remotely), communicates and completes essential daily tasks.

Take time to get the primary stakeholders involved in your Office 365 implementation plan. These are your department managers. Ask each for input in the following areas:

  • What are your expectations with Office 365?
  • What communication challenges is your department currently facing?
  • What key milestones would you like to see addressed in the Office 365 implementation plan for your department?

You won’t develop a concrete Office 365 implementation plan during the kick-off meeting, but you will gain an awareness of what your team needs out of the migration — from both a functional and technical perspective.

Throughly Audit Your Infrastructure 

If your current IT infrastructure can’t handle an Office 365 migration, the implementation plan will be useless. Inventory your infrastructure to identify roadblocks that could slow the migration down. 

You’ll need to assess the following components:

  • Bandwidth assessment

  • Servers and components

  • Network architecture and DNS

  • Authentication solutions

  • Directory design

  • Bandwidth

  • Mail routing

  • Certificates

  • Hardware and software

  • Mail and other client applications

  • Mail archiving and compliance Also carve out time to document the migration steps. Plan how you’ll configure:

  • Active Directory

  • Exchange

  • Mailboxes

  • SharePoint

  • Skype for Business Online

  • Client computers

Microsoft offers two tools to help you assess what you currently have and move forward: Office 365 readiness checks and the Microsoft Assessment and Planning (MAP) toolkit.

Readiness checks look at your current on-premises services to determine if they meet the requirements for migrating to Office 365 services. It lets you know if you need to update current on-premises services before migrating.

MAP provides a more detailed analysis of your IT infrastructure. It identifies roadblocks your organization could face during migration based on your current infrastructure and provides advice on how to proceed.

Identity Authentication and Management

Identity planning is one of the most important steps in your Office 365 implementation plan because it is where things often go awry.

Several factors complicate the identity planning process.

  • Multiple forests: Sometimes different people in your organization require different identity capabilities. For example, an IT admin might need tighter control than the rest of the organization. Multiple forests are necessary in cases like this.
  • Multiple organizations involved in migration: If your organization has recently acquired another company, multiple directories will need to be integrated.
  • Identities in different locations
  • No mail attributes
  • A different UPN and email address

To avoid complications with identity integration, you’ll need to properly sync your current directory with the Office 365 cloud. Microsoft recommends using Azure Active Directory (AD) to get the best results.

Depending on your specific use case, there are a few ways to approach identity with Active Directory:

Cloud Identity

If your organization doesn’t have any on-premises directories, you can host your directory in the cloud. This method is great if you want to manage all identities within the cloud only.

Synchronized Identity

Use synchronized identity if your directory is located on-premises. With this method, you’ll sync identities to Azure AD using a directory synchronization tool like Azure AD Connect.

Federated Identity

If you currently manage identities on-premises and want to enable single sign-on to the cloud, consider federated identity. With federated identity, you can have the same username and password for your on-premises and Office 365 directories.

Of course, your Office 365 implementation plan should also cover critical phases like migrating public folders and steps for a pilot migration. These are just a few critical areas companies often skimp. Need help with your Office 365 implementation plan or migration? Contact Agile IT today.

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