Preparation Phase of an Office 365 Implementation - dummies

Preparation Phase of an Office 365 Implementation

By Ken Withee, Jennifer Reed

After you have a good handle on what you plan to do during an Office 365 implemenation, you need to prepare to do it. Keep in mind that because every organization is different, you should only use these steps as a guide.

If you are a small organization, then moving to Office 365 might be as easy as a walk in the park. If you are part of a thousand-person multinational organization with offices around the world, then the process will be much more involved.

As you begin preparing, you will inevitably realize some deficiencies in your plan. Think of these steps as iterative. When you know more about what you should include in your plan, include it. Go back and update your plan. As you walk through the preparation phase, you will know more than you did during the planning phase.

This is why an iterative process is so very important. You don’t know what you don’t know, and to think that you could plan everything without being all-knowing is a ridiculous thought.

Domain Naming System and Office 365 implementation

The Domain Naming System (DNS) is a standard used to let computers communicate over the Internet. For example, Microsoft manages the domain All the Microsoft computers that are accessed over the Internet are part of this domain, and each is assigned a specific number, known as an Internet Protocol (IP) address.

When you send an e-mail to someone at Microsoft, your computer asks the DNS server what computer handles e-mail.

When you move to Office 365, you must make changes in DNS so that network traffic understands where it should be routed. In essence, what happens is that when the DNS is changed, anyone sending you an e-mail will have that e-mail routed to your Office 365 implementation rather than to the current location.

Mailboxes and Office 365 implementation

There are specific computers responsible for hosting your e-mail. If you keep your e-mail on your local computer, then you won’t have any e-mail data to migrate. However, if you leave your e-mail on the server, then all that data will need to be migrated to the Office 365 mailboxes.

This migration can be one of the most technically difficult parts of moving e-mail systems, but with guidance from a partner, it can be pain free.

Portals and Office 365 implementation

A web portal, also known as an Intranet site, can be as simple as a static web page, or as complex as a fully integrated solution. SharePoint provides a tremendous amount of functionality, and it has seen massive adoption in the last decade.

Office 365 includes SharePoint Online, which is nothing more than SharePoint hosted by Microsoft. During the migration phase of an implementation, you need to decide which content you want to move to SharePoint and which you can leave where it is currently located. In addition, you need to decide which functionality you want to integrate into your portal and which systems are better left in place.

Logins and licensing and Office 365 implementation

If you are a part of a very large organization, then your IT team probably manages your users with a Microsoft technology called Active Directory. For large organizations, you can sync this on-site management of users with the Office 365 users, which results in a single login and simplified access to the cloud environment.

If you are part of a small organization, then you might manage all your users in Office 365 directly. In either case, you need to come up with a list of the people who need to have access to Office 365 and the associated licensing.

Training and Office 365 implementation

Even the best software is useless unless people know about it and know how to use it. Microsoft has created a wealth of documentation and user training that can be had for little or no cost. In addition, any partner you decide to work with will have training plans available and can conduct training for Office 365.

Support and Office 365 implementation

After users start adopting Office 365, they are bound to have questions. You need to have a support system in place in order to accommodate even the simplest questions. The support system should include power users as a first point of content and then a formal support system that escalates all the way up to Microsoft supporting Office 365.