Create an Office 365 tenant, synchronize active directory, migrate mail and sites and you’re all set, right?
This post was previously published here.
Create an Office 365 tenant, synchronize active directory, migrate mail and sites and you’re all set, right? While consulting in the Office 365 space I continue to encounter clients who are either misinformed or completely uninformed about the breadth of decisions that are required to implement this cloud solution. Office 365 is not a single decision (i.e. let’s move to the cloud), rather a vast array of decisions most of which affect not only your IT staff but your end users and budgets as well. At Centric Consulting, we ask all of the questions required to help our clients successfully implement a cloud solution like Office 365; some of those questions are listed below to show the diversity of topics an implementation effort of this scale requires.
Which Office 365 features are you planning to use?
Some of the available features that will require decisions are as follows:
- Office current version
- Mobile Device and Application Management
- Information Retention and Management
- Azure Active Directory
- Multi-factor authentication
- External Sharing
- Rights Management
- Outlook Groups
Is your network prepared?
Does your network have the capacity to migrate existing mailboxes and identities to the cloud while continuing day-to-day business without performance issues? Will that still be the case when users begin to synchronize their OneDrives, too? Before you start migrating users, be certain your network is prepared by using Microsoft’s tools for Planning and Performance.
How will you manage identities?
In most cases Centric Consulting has found that companies are synchronizing their on-premises Active Directory, but is that enough? If users have to sign in multiple times they will not use the solution; be prepared for federation. Standard Azure Active Directory may not provide all the features you need for identity and security management. A third-party identity provider solution can also be used to federate with Office 365.
How will you manage mobile and application access?
We have also found that most of our clients cannot meet their company’s security requirements surrounding mobile device management using the default settings in Office 365. Look to Microsoft’s Enterprise Mobility Suite for enhanced mobile security features.
Who will support Office 365?
The most underestimated and under-planned-for category of decisions is around who will support what parts of the Office 365 platform. Read what administration roles are available at the platform level alone to get a better idea of this undertaking. Along with help desk, business analyst roles, developers and other subject matter experts the support organization will require retraining or repurposing of existing staff and/or new hires, some of whom are difficult to find.
How will your users learn?
Most companies discover the questions they forgot to answer when their users locate and begin to use features for which no one planned. In order to avoid shadow training and hacks that users will find on their own, as well as the security of the company’s data, plan for training: not once, but continuously. The Office 365 platform is more fluid than static, and changes realized by the support team can be passed on to the training team for dissemination to users.
How will you manage change?
As mentioned, Office 365 is in a nearly constant state of flux with platform updates anticipated quarterly and additional feature updates on varying schedules. Managing the Office 365 Roadmap and the administration console message center are a requirement along with a governing body. A governance or steering committee will review current policies and the need for new policies. This committee should meet on a regular basis and include stakeholders not only from IT but from the businesses as well. This is vital to the overall management of the platform as well as user satisfaction.
I will repeat that this is in no way a comprehensive list of questions, nor will it get you on your way to purchasing, configuring or supporting Office 365. Rather, this is meant to illustrate the breadth of questions that need to be answered and some of the topics that need to be discussed before deciding to make a leap into the cloud.