6 Questions to Ask Potential
As the workforce becomes more remote in a modern working environment where physical separation between colleagues is more commonly street addresses than cubicles, an Office 365 migration is essential for any organization trying to keep productivity at its peak and stay competitive.
But performing an Office 365 migration can be incredibly challenging, and few organizations have the experience and expertise in house to ensure a smooth and successful transition. This is one of the major reasons that many organizations choose to outsource this task to a professional Office 365 migration services provider.
If you’ve had enough of your current systems not being able to keep pace with growing business demands, evolving mobility requirements, or data capacity needs, you may be chomping at the bit to get this move started. Additionally, more and more companies, including your competitors, are moving to the cloud to take advantage of Office 365’s impressive suite of tools and features – so you may also be feeling the pressure to get a migration going, or risk being left behind. But if you don’t take the time to seek out and find the right Office 365 migration services provider, you may wind up falling even further off the pace, as the success of an organization’s migration can be closely linked to its service provider selection.
But finding the ideal provider can be tricky…
There is a lot to consider, and there are many providers to choose from. To find the right Office 365 migration services partner, you’ll want to look for those that make it a point to gain a comprehensive understanding of your migration’s potential, as well as likely challenges to be faced along the way. Since not all service providers approach migrations in the same way, or have the same experience performing them, it’s important to ask detailed questions up front – to help you decide which provider is the best fit for you.
To help guide your choice, here are six questions to ask potential Office 365 migration services providers:
Have You Worked with a Migration Like Ours Before?
Needless to say, the more experience a service provider has with leading Office 365 migrations, the more likely they are to deliver a smooth and orderly transition to your new environment. After all, one of the major reasons to hire an Office 365 migration services provider is because your in-house team doesn’t have the necessary expertise.
While it’s important to work with a service provider that has overall experience with migrations, it may also be beneficial to work with one that has experience in your industry – if your industry has standards or regulations that you must meet.
There are many ways to research potential candidates and narrow the field of choices to those that may have experience in your industry, or that simply might be a good fit to lead your organization’s migration, including:
- Customer testimonials
- Migration case studies
- Speaking directly with a provider’s representatives
- Recommendations from colleagues
- Active certifications held by the provider
- And more!
Simply put, partnering with a provider that has migration experience and proven service results is your best chance at a smooth and successful migration. Experience alone doesn’t automatically guarantee the desired results. Office 365 migration service providers with proven results are those that utilize repeatable processes and best practices to ensure unique needs are being met while keeping the overall migration on track.
A Deep Dive into Your Data
Before transitioning to Office 365, you’ll need to gain an understanding of what data you have and what file types you’re utilizing. The ideal provider should offer a full, in-depth data analysis to help increase your awareness of what to look for and how your data can impact your plan. In some cases, providers can help classify your data to paint a clear picture of what you have, as well as what you may be able to eliminate.
Furthermore, ensure that any potential candidate has extensive experience transferring the type of data you have. If they don’t and they have to learn on the fly, you could be at risk for data loss, security issues, performance issues, and much more.
How Will You Help Us Get the Most from Office 365?
To put your organization in the best possible position to gain from the benefits of your new environment, the Office 365 migration services provider you select should gain a thorough understanding of your business, and should also take the time to understand what your users will need to achieve the desired results. To do this, providers would need to step through a phase in which they align Office 365 options, features, applications, tools, and more, with your business requirements by learning about all aspects of your business, such as:
- Current business objectives
- Future business objectives
- Current licensing
- How users/employees use technology
- How the move to the cloud impacts your business
- Mobile user details
- And more!
With this knowledge in hand, a provider can tailor a solution to meet your particular needs, recommend more specifically appropriate migration strategies, and customize a plan to cover your requirements.
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How Long Will Our Migration Take?
Migration timelines can vary based on a variety of factors, such as:
- Number of users
- Size of your business and scope of your daily operations
- What kind of data is moving
- How much data is moving
- Mailbox quantity
- Third-party configurations
- Compliance and regulatory requirements
- Migration type
- And many more!
With knowledge of the needs and requirements of your migration in hand, an Office 365 migration services provider should be able to provide a rough estimate of time to completion, along with a proper plan to ensure all necessary requirements are met before the migration begins.
If the chosen deadline is reasonable given the parameters of the transition, a well-suited service provider should be able to complete the migration on time using time-tested tools and techniques, along with their extensive experience and expertise. While final deployment could certainly be slowed by the occurrence of unforeseen incidents, they should be able to work through those hiccups and challenges quickly to ensure the migration stays on schedule.
Will the Migration Disrupt Operations?
Keeping your organization’s employees and IT teams focused on their business-critical tasks is of the utmost importance – so one of the biggest purposes behind getting help from an Office 365 migration services provider is to minimize the migration’s disruption to your daily business operations.
Ultimately, the goal of a migration would be to complete the transition without your users feeling any impact on their data access or ability to work. The provider you select should utilize best practices to ensure zero, or minimal downtime to business-critical tools and applications – so your business operations remain unaffected.
Do You Offer Post-Migration Support?
The answer to this question should not be a “no”, unless you’ve requested that post-migration support not be included or offered. If a provider’s answer is a “no”, or anything close to it, then they’re not likely prepared to provide the kind of end-to-end migration that most organizations need.
Office 365’s benefits are plentiful, and while familiar tools such as Excel, Word, PowerPoint, and more, have remained mostly unchanged, modern productivity tools such as Teams, SharePoint, OneDrive, and more, offer collaborative advantages that can make a user’s workday easier – but it may take them some time to learn how. Post-migration documentation provided by your provider is often helpful to build workflow procedures for impactful new processes.
Additionally, Office 365 itself is in a constant state of change – adding new features, tools, applications, and more, on a regular basis. As these updates are released, your chosen provider can help you identify any that could be of benefit to your organization, along with configuration, installation, or training as necessary.
Although it’s crucially important to ensure a smooth transition to your new environment, that doesn’t mean a service provider’s task is complete. A full-scale migration should account for post-migration support.
While there are multiple reasons for you to migrate to Office 365, one of the most beneficial is the productivity boost from the advanced suite of modern tools and features included in this collaborative platform. But the platform doesn’t do you any good if your users don’t know how to take advantage of it.
Through tutorials, FAQs, cheat sheets, walk-throughs, and more, the ideal Office 365 migration services provider should offer extensive training to your users, during and after the migration, to ensure your organization gains the full productivity benefits from Office 365.
What Factors Can Contribute to Our Migration Cost?
No matter which provider you choose, there are a number of factors that can influence overall migration costs. Each organization places unique demands on its systems, and every factor or detail can have a financial impact. What you want from your provider is for them to be transparent about all fees and services, including immediate communication about potential cost increases that may be necessary during the migration process.
The type of migration you choose is going to depend on a variety of factors, such as number of mailboxes, downtime tolerance, compliance standards, and more. While your chosen Office 365 migration services provider would provide guidance on which migration type is most appropriate for you, there can be different costs associated with each type as well. Because a cutover migration is less time consuming, for example, it can be less costly than a staged migration.
- Cutover Migration:
An immediate transition from on-premises to Office 365 all at once.
- Staged Migration:
A transition that occurs in batches, or stages, over a determined period of time.
- Hybrid Migration:
A gradual transition that allows for on-premises to be integrated with Office 365 so you can manage accounts in both environments.
Unforeseen roadblocks and challenges of all kinds can contribute to delays in your planned timeline. These delays can often impact the costs of a migration given that resolutions frequently involve additional time or resources.
Compliance requirements can often lead to additional expenses for a migration because of the further steps that need to be taken, or the extra data that needs to be moved, to remain in adherence with industry or governmental regulations.
A Challenging Choice
Choosing the right provider to partner with you on your Office 365 migration can be a challenge. It’s a choice you don’t want to get wrong. According to Gartner, there are many reasons why this can be so difficult, but it can often be because of an organization’s:
- Underestimation of the internal effort they will need to put forth
- Unfamiliarity with competitive migration pricing
- Uncertainty of how to evaluate migration proposals
- Lack of experience working with external partners
- And more!
To help overcome the challenges of choosing your Office 365 migration services provider, there are a few other steps you can take:
- Research candidates:
Uncover all you can about their background and experience.
- Know what you need:
Get an idea of what you need a provider to do. This can help you narrow the field by asking the right questions early in the process.
- Properly evaluate:
Through estimates, quotes, and statements of work, you should be able to get an idea of a provider’s attention to detail, and whether or not their approach to your migration aligns with your migration needs.
- Assess value:
While cost is a major factor in any business decision, you’ll also want to compare the value each potential provider brings.
- For example:
Service Provider A offers a reasonable overall migration cost but does not include any post-migration training. Service Provider B offers a slightly higher cost, but includes post-migration training. Depending on your user training benefit assessment, the value of Service Provider B’s offering with training may outweigh the cost savings with Service Provider A.
Selecting an Office 365 migration services partner is one of the most important business decisions your organization will make. While the search for the ideal provider is a challenge, the answer to ensuring you get all you can from your Office 365 solution is to connect with a migration service provider with proven expertise leading migrations for organizations like yours.
With the right choice of provider, you’ll experience a smooth and orderly transition to Office 365 complete with minimal delays, negligible downtime, comprehensive user training, added value, and little-to-no stress. With the wrong choice, you may be facing damaging problems and issues that can lead to overspending and a failed migration.
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