Transition Your Business to Office 365
by Adam Arnold
Since its inception, Microsoft Office 365 has been making waves. There are three basic things you need to know about why Office 365 is a game changer.
NO MORE MICROSOFT EXCHANGE MIGRATIONS.
Microsoft Office 365 lives on that “cloud” you’ve heard so much about. No more buying servers every five years and migrating your email, calendar, and contact data (and the requisite hardware to go with it.) It’s accessible anywhere you have an internet connection.
Office 365 is available in your web browser (not kidding,) your smartphone, your desktop, your tablet… I mean everywhere. Simply login to your Office 365 account in a web browser and get to work on Excel, Word, Exchange…you’re in business wherever you go.
IT COSTS LESS.
Yes, really. In the past, you probably purchased a new version of Office 365 with every new computer…because upgrading was no less expensive. Now, when a new version of Office comes out, you get it at no additional cost. Over the lifetime of the product, your financial outlay is reduced.
The Transition to Office 365
As our in-house Office 365 specialist and a certified Microsoft office 365 consultant, we have done our fair share of implementations. The transition to Microsoft Office 365 hosted exchange is generally a simple one. With the right consultant (insert favorite Keystone Consultant here), you can have a smooth and easy transition to Microsoft Office 365.
What does this mean for me, the business owner?
All good consultants (us) will tell you that one of the most often overlooked costs involved in a project is the cost of change. How do you quantify the costs of your employees changing their day-to-day processes? Saving files to a new location and changing how they store and exchange information between employees can be a challenge for some. Although it seems simple, it can often take weeks for users to change their processes. The transition to Office 365 can be so seamless to the end user because little is noticed in the way of change. This makes the transition for an administrator or owner a stress-free ordeal. Many of our customers have been up and running the next day after making the transition that evening. Are we that good? Some have stated as much, but we attribute a lot of the credit to the tools available via Office 365 and a little bit of planning. We use a combination of building scripts and 3rd party applications to migrate your email in a seamless and simple way.
The beauty of Microsoft Office 365 hosted exchange is the scalability and accessibility. Internet is down at your office? No problem, your phone will still hit up the servers and you can respond to email (no weekend phone calls for users not being able to access webmail or phones syncing). The Outlook web access portion of Microsoft Office 365 looks like a carbon copy of Microsoft Office Outlook 2016. Scalability! You can add mailbox users on the fly without having to procure more licenses from Microsoft. Users or features can be added as you need them. Just pay for what you use. Also, the added benefit of adding on features using the Active Directory Sync and Single Sign-on for larger organizations make the sign on process even easier.
Office 365 Migrations- What not to do
- Don’t overestimate your internet connection
Poor Internet connection = poor experience. Moving to any cloud system requires a solid Internet connection. Microsoft Office 365 is one that may require the least amount of total bandwidth, but it is constantly using bandwidth and connection for your users. If you have a poor or unreliable Internet connection, you will have a poor and unreliable Microsoft Office 365 experience. Here is a link to Microsoft’s network planning and performance tuning for Office 365.
- Failing to understand the plans
Spend some time reading about the plansor talk to a Microsoft Partner. If you don’t have a partner, this is a link to the best Microsoft partner we know. Picking the wrong plan may result in you paying for what you don’t need and selecting the wrong services and options for your organization. Plan evaluation is a critical part of your overall strategy and should not be overlooked.
- Deciding not to migrate your old mail
Microsoft has numerous ways to get your old email into their system whether it be through IMAP migrations or their various tools migrations methods. We have not completed a migration where old email wasn’t necessary. It’s important, and the few times where we were told it wasn’t important, they came back later and said that they were wrong, and that is important after all. The problem lies in the fact that not incorporating this into your plan can be more troublesome and expensive to deal with in the long term. For those using Outlook pop with PST files, Microsoft has even released a tool to migrate PST files in bulk. With all those options available, not importing your users’ mail to “save time and money” is short sighted at best.
- Not Customizing
Just because Microsoft 365 is a cloud system and not installed in your existing infrastructure doesn’t mean you can’t customize it. Quick tip – there is a mailbox policy applied on every mailbox with Office 365, and that policy will purge your deleted items. So, if you have users that like to keep things in their deleted items (ridiculous as it may seem), then you need to either change that policy or remove it. I know a good Microsoft Partner (yep we did it again) that has written a script to quickly change these policies. Additionally, you can customize your mail flow rules, add connectors for on-site mail servers, and even integrate your Active Directory. Not taking advantage of some of these customization features is an extreme underutilization of the 365 systems.
Great News for Nonprofits
We understand that nonprofit technology budget is definitely limited. Thanks to Microsoft, nonprofits no longer need to feel left behind in the world of technology. Qualified nonprofits can now receive Microsoft Office 365 at a reduced rate or even for free with the Microsoft nonprofit donation program.
“. . . we (Microsoft) give, on average, over $2 million in software donations a day to nonprofits across the globe.” – Microsoft Corporate Citizenship site”
But why does your nonprofit need Office 365? Here are a few benefits that can take your nonprofit to the next level:
- Always have the latest versions of Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, Publisher, OneNote and Skype – all programs that your team is most likely very familiar with already.
- Use business class email with your domain name to have a more unified look amongst your investors, peers and volunteers.
- Nurture collaboration among your team with video conferencing and instant messaging.
- Write and edit documents and contracts as a team with a multiple author feature.
- Travel without fear of leaving all your work behind in the office with remote access to all of your files – not to mention your teams’ files, too.
- Always feel secure with the built-in spam and malware protection for your email and the protection of your data in the cloud.
It’s easy to find out if your nonprofit is eligible for this donation program. Visit the Microsoft Corporate Citizenship page to view the eligibility criteria.
So, does the transition make sense for you?
It depends. Most customers we have been transitioning to Microsoft Office 365 are phasing out an old exchange standard server or replacing a Microsoft Small Business Server. We have found very few situations where Microsoft Office 365 hosted exchange doesn’t work well (see ISDN internet). The flexibility of Microsoft Office 365 makes it easy for customers to scale up by starting with a few users on a temp domain and adding your existing domain later. If you are interested and want to know more click on our trial link here.