Planning Phase of an Office 365 Implementation - dummies

Planning Phase of an Office 365 Implementation

By Ken Withee, Jennifer Reed

The planning phase of an Office 365 implementation greatly depends on many factors, including whether you are using the professional and small business plan or the enterprise plan. Regardless of which plan you are using, you want to get a handle on the resources and roles that you will need for the implementation as well as such tasks as:

  • Meeting synchronization

  • Issue tracking

  • Strategies around e-mail, such as mailbox size and e-mailed integration with SharePoint

  • Account provisioning and licensing

  • Internet bandwidth consideration

  • Software and hardware inventories

  • Administrator and end-user training

  • Communication planning

Synchronization meetings for Office 365 implementation

With any Enterprise software adoption, maintaining open lines of communication is important. If everyone is on the same page, then it is easier to navigate issues as they arise rather than at the end of the project.

Pulling a page from SCRUM methodology, it is a good idea to have daily stand-ups where the teams stands in a circle and quickly announces what they are working on and what obstacles are blocking them from continuing with their tasks.

The software development methodology known as SCRUM is a process for completing complicated software development cycles. The term comes from the Australian sport of rugby where the entire team moves down the field as one unit rather than as individual players. If you are not familiar with SCRUM, then check out the Scrum Alliance website.

Issue tracking for Office 365 implementation

Tracking issues as they arise is critical, and you need a process in place. SharePoint is ideal at issue tracking, so you may want to use a pilot implementation of Office 365 that includes SharePoint Online to track your issues for your Office 365 implementation. Isn’t that tactic a mind bender?

E-mail strategies for Office 365 implementation

E-mail plays a very important role in nearly every organization. When moving to Office 365, you will be moving your e-mail system. E-mail can be widely spread and integrated into many different nooks and crannies of your infrastructure.

You want to make sure that you do a thorough audit to find out which systems and applications are using e-mail, and which you want to move to Office 365. In addition, the size of users e-mail boxes should be understood and the amount of e-mail that will be migrated to Exchange Online (which is the e-mail portion of Office 365).

In particular, take note of how you are using SharePoint and how SharePoint is using e-mail. If you are new to SharePoint, then you are in for a treat because you gain an understanding of how the product integrates with e-mail.

Account provisioning and licensing for Office 365 implementation

The good news is that Office 365 is very flexible in licensing, user provisioning, and administration. With that said, however, you want to plan out the number of users and the licensing requirements you need for your organization.

You may choose to adopt Office 365 all at once or as a phased approach by moving a single group over to Office 365 as a pilot. In either case, you need to understand your licensing requirements so that you can plan resources and costs accordingly.

Internet bandwidth consideration for Office 365 implementation

Because Office 365 lives in the cloud and is accessed over the Internet, your connection must be top-notch. Your network administrator or IT consultant can use a number of different network bandwidth testing tools so that you have firsthand reports on how much bandwidth you are currently using in your organization and how moving to the cloud will affect the users.

Software and Hardware inventories for Office 365 implementation

Undertaking an audit of your current software and hardware resources is important. Fortunately, Microsoft has a tool available for just such a task. It is called the Microsoft Assessment and Planning (MAP) toolkit, and it can be downloaded by searching for it in the Microsoft Download Center.

Administrator and end-user training for Office 365 implementation

As with any new system, training is a required element. Office 365 has been designed with intuitive user interfaces for both administration and end users, but without a training plan, you are rolling the dice.

A popular and successful approach to training when it comes to intuitive designs is called train the trainer. The idea being that you invest in formal training for a power user and then that user trains the rest of the company. This strategy is very powerful even for large organizations because the training scales exponentially. As people are trained, they then train other people.

Migration needs for Office 365 implementation

One of the biggest aspects of moving to Office 365 will be migration of content, including mailboxes and other content. The ideal situation is that your organization has been living under a rock and has no document management system in place or custom portal functionality.

In this scenario, you simply start using SharePoint in all of its glory and bathe in the efficiency and productivity gains of a modern portal environment.

The chances are, however, that you already have a number of systems in place. These systems might be SharePoint, or they might be a custom developed solution. In any case, you need to plan to migrate the content and functionality of these systems into Office 365. The good news is that Office 365 is definitely a product worth spending the time, effort, and resources in adopting.