The 6 Steps to a Successful 365 Cloud Migration

When your organization chooses to use Microsoft 365, there are a few things to consider. For starters, there’s a good chance that you’ve already got existing infrastructure in place that must be migrated over.

Even so, these cloud migrations have multiple steps – each of which must go off without a hitch to ensure minimal downtime and a frustration-free experience. You likely have on-premise servers that you must carefully convert, or risk the chance of corrupting and losing entire user email records.

There are 6 critical steps to ensuring a successful 365 cloud migration.

1. Assessing Your Current Infrastructure

Before any technical steps can begin, you must analyze your current IT environment. You must observe and record how your day-to-day operations run, and which applications and services you need the most.

It’s helpful to draw out the exact flow of data within your company – pinpoint the exact producers of productivity, and draw out a map of business-critical services. From there, you can establish which services affect the most employees and prioritize their cloud migration accordingly.

2. Choosing the Best Plan for You

The beauty of Microsoft 365 is that it fits into any IT budget. Microsoft allows you to mix and match services and truly customize packages to fit your organization. For example, Microsoft offers a simple Exchange plan that’s low cost with an annual commitment.

It’s part of their Enterprise E1 plan – it just offers the basics, such as Office Online, IM, and email. If your business is more interested in downloadable programs (such as Word, Outlook, Excel, and Powerpoint), you can bump your plan up to the Microsoft 365 ProPlus, for just a few dollars more with an annual commitment.

Choosing the plan that’s right for you before your cloud migration is your best bet for organizing which resources you are migrating, and which you aren’t.

3. Running a Data Discovery Phase

This stage of the cloud migration requires you to understand not only how your emails and data work but also how they’re set up relative to your domain. There are many different migration tools available that will automatically run the discovery for you.

While these tools are helpful, they are not as thorough as manually checking and taking note of your processes. Once you have a clear idea of how the data flow functions, as well as where the domain and mail records are hosted, you can confidently proceed to the maintenance phase of the cloud migration.

4. Preparing File Maintenance

Keeping a clean file system is paramount to having a streamlined migration. Often, businesses will simply drag and drop all of their existing data, folder structures, and permission settings into the cloud environment. While this process is relatively quick, it also causes trouble down the line.

Instead, taking the time to organize a sensible file structure for your streamlined workspace can benefit your organization in the transition and beyond. With SharePoint, for example, you can even tag files with specialized keywords that can make them easier to lookup down the line. In other words, tidying up your files BEFORE the migration will make them far easier to find and access when you have increased your team’s productivity tools.

5. Migrating the Files

Once the prep work is completed, you’ll be ready for the cloud migration. Selecting the perfect day to move the data is important – be sure to choose a day that will give you some wiggle room in case things don’t go as planned. Planning around the inevitable period of downtime is important, so that your business doesn’t experience any nasty or unexpected repercussions.

ITIC’s survey data finds that 98% of organizations say a single hour of downtime costs over $100,000; 81% of respondents indicated that 60 minutes of downtime costs their business over $300,000. And a record one-third or 33% of enterprises report that one hour of downtime costs their firms $1 million to over $5 million. In short – suffering from downtime isn’t something your organization wants to experience.

Don’t forget to give over your mail exchanger (MX) records to Microsoft 365. Without them, your mail will experience constant bounce backs and ultimately prove useless.

6. Partnering with a Pro

Steps 1-5 provide only a brief snippet of what actually happens. The entire process must be carefully coordinated by a team focused on its success. Without proper preparation and execution, the 365 cloud migration can go awry and cause delays, frustration, and downtime.

The best way to migrate with full confidence is to work with a Microsoft Partner. When you handle your migration alone, you’re left with only your own team to turn to for support. However, experienced and dedicated Microsoft Partners oversee the entire migration while providing all needed support throughout the process.


See part 2 of our series.

See part 4 of our series.