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If you are about to embark on or just started on an Office 365 migration, you are in good company.

According to Okta, a cloud-based service that tracks organizational logins across multiple different cloud-based technologies, Office 365 was by far the most popular business application, followed by Salesforce, Box, and Google Apps for Business. Moreover, while transitioning to Office 365 is the right move for many enterprises, the migration process can be littered with a variety of stumbling blocks, which we discussed in an earlier blog post.

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Today we want to focus on how an IT project management tool can help you navigate and manage these roadblocks more effectively. But we’ll go even further and show you how to make your migration faster, more secure and more efficient.

Get Quick Wins: Find The Low-Hanging Fruit First

When tackling an email migration, there are two scenarios: the easy cases and the hard cases (see scheduling spiderweb). You will want to start by finding your low-hanging fruit and migrating them first before tackling the most difficult ones. This will get some all-important numbers on the scoreboard.

An IT migration tool will not only identify these quick wins within minutes but will also allow you to group mailboxes/users into deployment waves and place them on separate migration paths, eliminating the need for tedious manual work.  We call this process 'batching.' The principle is to identify all mailboxes with single user access first.  This is batch zero. Next, we pick the first mailbox outside of batch zero and work out all the linked mailboxes - this is batch 1. And on it goes, batch by batch whilst every closed group is identified.  Of course, we have to remove those users with permissions to all mailboxes first. Otherwise, you'll just end up with a single migration group!

Involve The User: Automated Email Communication & Self-Service

An email migration is often a process that is done with the users, rather than to them. However, communication is crucial for the success of the project! Dashworks helps to involve users in two different ways:

  • Self-service capabilities: By making use of Dashworks' self-service capabilities, you can validate user delegate access (e.g., check for a change in management or assistants) which allows you to verify their right to access mailboxes, public folders and files, mobile device requirements, and other associated key information. Doing this before tackling the migration can significantly cut down the number of shared mailboxes and folders you will have to migrate. And, of course, you can also use self-service to validate your employees' remote access for mail, out-of-office times and other information relevant to the project.
  • Automated email communication: You will want to use email communication before, throughout and after the migration process to update your users on their status, migration schedule and more. For example, you can ask them to clean up their mailboxes by removing the top 100 largest emails, or move a PST file. You can use Dashworks to automate your email communication, including specifying different languages, delegates and much more.

Navigate The Scheduling Spiderweb Of Shared Mailboxes

If you have started to look into email migration, or you have done a migration before, you know that shared mailboxes and delegation are two of your biggest problem. They can kill every Office 365 migration if not handled correctly.

The scheduling spider web is created when employees enable team members, such as assistants, to have access to their mailbox to manage their emails or calendars. To migrate these mailboxes manually, you would have to go in and find the delegates, the delegates of the delegates, and so on, and group these mailboxes together for migration.

With an IT migration tool like Dashworks, you can automatically establish user, mailbox, delegates and public folder linkage. In this case, the tool groups all users together based on their access, which eliminates the need for you to tediously follow the threads of the spider web.

Below is a screenshot of the global view of every mailbox and its relationship with the users.  On the outside are the easy wins (one user, one mailbox).  However, you can also see some clusters – i.e. the spiderwebs — where shared and delegated mailbox permissions are in play, and you need to migrate the entire group.

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Now if you take a closer look at the two clusters, you will see that they are linked through one user/mailbox combination.  The goal here would be to break that link to get two closed groups. These can now be migrated separately — significantly reducing the complexity of your migration project. 

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Controlled Capacity-Based Scheduling Of Mailboxes

Another big issue when migrating thousands of mailboxes is the amount of storage to migrate and associated archives. Since many emails contain large files, inboxes often reach their size limitations which will take a while to move over due to Office 365 limitations. Now, let's say you were to schedule a hundred mailboxes to be migrated regardless of their size; if you have two huge ones in the batch, you’ve just created a time-consuming bottleneck for all those to be moved because the large ones take forever, due to all the network bandwidth they use.

An IT migration tool like Dashworks allows you to schedule the migration of your mailboxes based on capacity. It also allows you to run an analysis of which mailboxes you should move before, which mailboxes have been moved already and which to tackle next.

Manage Your Entire Readiness & Scheduling From Beginning To End

In a world where Big Data is used to suggest products to shoppers based on their current living situation, it seems crazy to use spreadsheets to manage a migration with tens of thousands of users that depend on their mailboxes and devices to get their daily work done!

IT Migration tools like Dashworks offer not only a faster and safer alternative to spreadsheets, but they can support you by managing the complete readiness and scheduling process from beginning to end for you. You are in complete control as the tool allows you to track key progress indicators like Outlook client version, target mailbox synchronization status, mailbox stub dehydration, and training readiness. Also, you can integrate Dashworks with tools such as the Dell Migration Manager and Binary Tree as well as native Microsoft PowerShell scripts to automate the migration of mailboxes.  

One Version Of The (Project) Truth

Last, but not least, let's talk about reporting and dashboarding. An Office 365 migration with thousands of users can get messy very quickly, and since email is the lifeblood of communication for many enterprises, there is no margin for error. To keep track, analyze and manage, you must have all the relevant information in one place — always up-to-date and constantly refreshing to reflect all the changes.

As a data warehousing tool, Dashworks holds all the project-relevant information readily available at your fingertips. Need reporting or dashboarding for your management or the business units? No problem. With the pre-canned reports and dashboards, as well as the ability to add powerful bespoke charts with tools like PowerBI, you are in control — because hard data does not lie!

Conclusion

To sum it all up, using an IT migration tool for your Office 365 migration simply makes sense! It not only ensures that your project is more likely on time and under-budget, but also saves you valuable time and resource by automating many of the manual tasks.

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