Migrating to Microsoft Office 365 small business is not as simple as just signing up and logging in. If you want your business to continue operating, you need to manage more than your subscription.
Kelly is the owner of a local accounting firm. She has a small team of five professionals and two support staff. Kelly is not very IT savvy and relies on her local IT support provider to provide guidance and advice.
Kelly’s business was started in 2008 and her original IT provider set her up with an on-premise server. ‘That’s the black box in the storeroom with all the blue cables in it’, she refers. Kelly does not know much about this box other than that’s what makes her computers and printer work. It costs her about $400 a month.
A couple of years ago, Kelly signed up for Microsoft Office 365 small business. She wanted to use the new versions of Microsoft Word and Excel. The new Office 365 subscriptions seems a less expensive way to buy the software licence. Since the lockdowns of the COVID19 pandemic, Kelly and her team started using Microsoft Teams a lot more. She asked her computer support company to help her use these new systems, but nothing seems to have happened.
After six months of no progress, Kelly wasn’t sure why her IT guy wasn’t migrating her business onto the cloud. She complains, ‘Aren’t we paying for this? Why is this taking so long for us to be able to use it?’
Office 365 is changing faster than your IT service
Unlocking the advantages of Microsoft Office 365 small business requires not just a change in technology but also, in the way that people work. Managing change within an organization is difficult for anyone. However, for many IT service providers, it is especially challenging. First, it’s rarely their responsibility to manage change in your business – their job is to make sure your technology works. Second, the people in an MSP are IT guys and gals; they are not typically, ‘people-people’ (if you know what I mean, no offence). However, these new cloud platforms like Microsoft Office 365 are blurring the traditional line between people and technology.
Migrating Microsoft Office 365 means moving all emails and network drive documents onto the cloud. This requires a carefully managed approach that ensures that Kelly’s team isn’t seriously interrupted. Individual laptops need to be reconfigured to connect to the cloud services, rather than the ‘black box out the back’. Furthermore, everything must be managed and secured to keep their business information safe from those nasty hackers.
In addition, shifting to Microsoft Office 365 also means Kelly’s team need to learn how to use the new tools. This can be especially challenging in a busy workplace. Managing both technology and people needs a well-structured change management plan. It is most important that no information is lost and no one is left behind.
A simple plan for setting up Office 365 small business
For most community minded small businesses, there are four steps to migrating onto Microsoft 365:
- Switch on Microsoft 365
- Transition your documents
- Transition your email
- Reset your staff computers
Step 1: Switch on Microsoft Office 365 small business
A lot of business will have already done this, simply because that how Microsoft sell their licenses for the Office Suite. This was a clever move by Microsoft, which has resulted in businesses signing on for Microsoft 365 but has left many without a clear understanding of how the Cloud platform can benefit their business.
Step 2: Transition your documents
The path of least resistance is, to begin with setting up SharePoint Document Library that can replace your network drive. For example, the “S Drive” where Kelly’s team store their client records. This involves transferring the document folders and instructing staff on how to sync their computers with the new folder.
Step 3: Transition your email
Transitioning your email means migrating your staff mailboxes from your on-premises Exchange Service onto the Microsoft Office 365 small business equivalent. Microsoft provides tools for this and it is a simple process from an IT perspective. So far as individual staff is concerned, they will need to reconnect their Microsoft Outlook from the old email exchange service, to the new Microsoft cloud service. This can be achieved by your IT service provider logging into everyone’s computer, or for the more IT savvy staff, they can connect to the Microsoft 365 account directly in Outlook.
Step 4: Reset your staff computers
Your current on-premises server (‘the box out the back’) also provides verification of staff, which enables them to log on to their work computers at the start of their day. This process is critical in providing safe access to your business data, to only those who should have access to it. In migrating to the cloud technology service, we must fundamentally change this experience. So, once all Kelly’s staff have moved their documents and emails onto Microsoft 365, and are no longer using the local network drives, your IT service provider can reconnect all computers to Microsoft Office 365 small business. In doing so, all the desktops and documents in her staff desktops are reset. Once this is done, the ‘on-premises service’ can be switched off.
Managing for change means managing for success
Microsoft Office 365 small business is a fundamentally different technology from what you have had before. It is not on the black box out the back. It is completely different technology! Therefore, it requires different approach to ensure your business can continue running without a hitch. It is not as simple as just signing up and switching it on.
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