It’s no secret that migrating to Office 365 is a big task. To help ease the pain of migrating, SharePoint MVP Ben Robb offered some helpful guidance to those who wish to go that route. He began his discussion with some of the pros and cons. First off, the pros: are lower costs, easier/faster upgrades, reduced risk, scalable, etc. Cons: support, legal issues, training, user experience, content lifecycle, etc.
Basically, it breaks down like this: Microsoft handles the backend of Office 365 but takes a lot of options away from you in the process. The biggest one seems to be the fact that you have no idea when new updates will hit (a serious theme that has been echoed in the sessions all week). The short of it is that you can seemingly expect something to break when an update comes through. This is compounded by the fact that you have no idea when upgrades are coming. For this reason, Ben advises keeping branding specifically close to out-of-the-box. According to Ben, you don’t brand Word or Excel, so why go to great lengths to brand SharePoint? (PS – This is Ben’s belief, one that this blogger doesn’t necessarily agree with, but that’s a whole other post). The types of code changes that will crash your customized UI are not tracked so if it happens, you can definitely expect some trouble.
Knowing the pros and cons, you’ve made the decision to go to the cloud anyway. Maybe it fits your business model well! Ben talked about some things you’ll want to consider before changing any code. First off, make sure your legal department is well aware of the scope of Office 365. It can be very important to know where and how data will be stored and treated by Microsoft. This is all stuff you want to be clear on when negotiating your deal. Next, incorporate the Microsoft support model into your own internal processes. This will help immensely when you have to deal with escalating a ticket to Microsoft. Also, make sure you establish a realistic time expectation for support. From the Microsoft side of things, the more you pay, the faster you get support. While that might be fine for an enterprise customer, it’s definitely not awesome for a small business.
The next step to a successful migration to Office 365 is communicating your end goal. Everyone needs to be on the same page and understand what is going to happen. This is an excellent time to get or do some training. You need to make the transition as seamless for the end user as possible. Be prepared for some resistance to change; it’s human nature after all. The bottom line is that the more you plan upfront, the better off you will be. Learn as much as you possibly can before making the switch and keep the lines of communication open. These suggestions will not guarantee a smooth migration, but they will go a long way to making sure you are on the right track to success.