A few weeks ago, we blogged about why your business should consider moving to Office 365 and the benefits of Microsoft’s cloud productivity applications. As always, it’s worth giving thought to the reasons for moving to Office 365 (and the reasons for making any change to business services should be good ones!)
With Office 365, those reasons are very good – but there are conditions which must be fulfilled before you do it. Check out these 5 points which will determine if your business is ready to take the leap:
1. Internet Connectivity
New Zealand is in the midst of the National UFB (Ultra Fast Broadband) Network roll-out. If you’re in an area which is connected – great. However, not every business has inexpensive access to business grade internet.
As a cloud service, Office 365 depends on good internet connectivity is essential. Don’t fall into the trap of switching only to discover your connection isn’t up to it. That could deliver a poor experience, leaving your staff wondering why the switch was made in the first place.
Should that happen, some companies boost their internet service – an unbudgeted cost which adds to the overhead of the migration. Given that a dedicated fibre connection can easily run to over $500 a month, the implication could be considerable.
2. Process Changes
While much of the workflow in Office 365 is familiar to Microsoft users, there are some changes. Be aware of the impact this can have on your staff and your infrastructure. For example, sending large attachments to multiple people in the office – a common practice - can cause a spike in bandwidth usage. That’s because unlike a mail server in the office (which means the email never leaves the building) in Office365, it goes out to the internet and is downloaded by every user.
A simple process change is to train staff to send a link (i.e. a shortcut) instead – pointing to the file on OneDrive or SharePoint.
This is just one of a number of small shifts which can improve staff productivity and efficiency; however, if they continue to operate in the old way, they might question the fuss about cloud computing and Office 365.
3. Collaboration Training
The real power of Office 365 is collaboration (it’s not just a cheaper way to do email!) The applications in the suite are designed to put information at the fingertips of your staff whether in the office, in front of clients or working remotely. But getting that value depends on knowing about it (and putting it to use). When considering a migration to Office 365, bear in mind that it is necessary to factor in training to demonstrate how it supports working together through online meetings, shared documents and social communication.
It doesn’t stop there, either: our advice is to identify an internal ‘Office 365 Champion’ who can reinforce the collaborative advantages of the solution throughout your business.
4. Security Configuration
The good news is that Office365 is far more secure than the average small business network – but you should still understand your own company’s needs and configure the solution appropriately. For example, some companies might find their system configured to allow all staff unrestricted access to every document in the company. That’s not the best idea, as some information is bound to be restricted and confidential to specific users.
A sound migration approach includes discussion and implementation of access policies. These can be structured in accordance with roles, by individual or groups of individuals – and the policy doesn’t stand still. It should be revised regularly to stay up to date with the changing requirements of your company.
5. Existing Software Compatibility
Every business has existing applications which are depended upon for the daily operation of the company. If these aren’t compatible with Office 365, you could be in for a headache. A trouble-free migration depends on a complete analysis of the full environment to test for compatibility of all applications with Office 365.
This ensures that if you make the change, business will continue to run smoothly, without unexpected delays and interruptions to annoy staff and frustrate customers. Make sure all applications are evaluated: email signature software, marketing tools, custom programmes and security/alarm monitoring packages.
Office 365 has proven a big winner the world over and it is probably a great solution for your business. Getting the most out of it, however, depends on some forward planning and working with a partner that knows how to maximise value and reduce any risks.