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Is your organization moving to Office 365? Congratulations! You are not alone. "Pretty much everyone is considering Office 365 now. They are at least thinking about it, even if they don't end up adopting it. Adoption was going in fits and starts but now it is starting to take off, and bigger companies are implementing it." says Jeffrey Mann, a research vice president at Gartner. Moreover, revenue numbers confirm this: Microsoft's cloud-based productivity tool is the fastest growing commercial product in the company's history.

While this is all exciting and validation that your organization is making a sound decision, you will still need to create a business case and budget plan for this migration project. Since email migration can become a very hairy and complex process because of all the interdependencies and archive/storage considerations, the budget calculations can be difficult.

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Office 365 Migration: Don't underestimate the time to build the solution.

Microsoft Office 365 is designed to make workers more productive by getting them out of their silos and making them more accessible and connected to the rest of the organization. It holds enormous potential for return on investment. However, it requires not only a clean migration but also executive buy-in, careful planning, and lots of education and training to ensure that the new features are adopted. Therefore, your migration project plan should include enough time and budget for these crucial steps.

Business Plan & Executive Buy-in

The first hurdle, of course, is understanding the return on investment, and identifying exactly what you are budgeting as in scope activities. First you create a comprehensive business case in which you lay the foundation for careful planning and ensure executive buy-in. In this step, you:

  • Calculate how much Exchange (or your legacy email platform) was costing you so far (including all the server and administrative costs)
  • Decide if you want to outsource your email solution completely to an outside vendor or retain internal control
  • Estimate which (if any) mailboxes must stay onsite and which will move into the cloud
  • How many admins and other resources you will need going forward
  • Which parts of the email solution will be in scope for this project (e.g., just the mailboxes, archives, public folders, storage)

Planning Phase

Once the business plan is complete, your management is onboard and your preliminary budget approved, you can move into the next phase. In the planning phase, you will run an assessment on your current environment to get a better understanding of the actual circumstances that you are dealing with.

It is advisable to budget for the use of a data warehousing solution like Dashworks, as it connects seamlessly to your existing repositories for your critical project data such as users, mail delegates, public folders, mobile devices, shared drives and more. Now you can decide who is running the project, how many resources you will need, what processes will be in place, how the mailbox permissions will be managed, and how the migration will be rolled out (e.g., by departments, buildings, or user by user).

Build Phase

In the next phase, the build phase, you are creating a plan for the actual migration, e.g., you budget for the

  • Tools that you might use
  • Infrastructure you will need (e.g., Active Directory)
  • Man hours needed to run actual migration
  • Data center space
  • Storage hardware
  • Migration Planning (data warehousing readiness, communications, etc.)
  • Operational Handover
  • Migration Deployment
  • Training & Education
  • Change Management & Incentives

Plan Twice, Migrate Once

There is an old saying for seamstresses: "Measure twice, cut once." The same goes for IT migrations, especially for Office 365. By spending enough time planning, you eliminate costly disasters later. In our experience, organizations often underestimate the time it takes to build a sound solution and then get stuck. Be sure to budget for enough time and resources for planning and building before migrating and always err on the side of caution. In reality, this means to build in a buffer of about 25% additional budget into your expected estimates.

Click here to download the Office 365 project plan template

Barry Angell

Written by Barry Angell

Barry is a co-founder of Juriba, where he works as CEO to drive the company strategy. He is an experienced End User Services executive that has helped manage thousands of users, computers, applications and mailboxes to their next IT platform. He has saved millions of dollars for internal departments and customers alike through product, project, process and service delivery efficiency.

Topics: Office 365