Is your organization planning a Microsoft 365 tenant-to-tenant migration? This effort is typically driven by various business events such as a merger, acquisition, divestiture, or an internal reorganization. While the business drivers behind the need may vary, a tenant-to-tenant migration is typically a very large undertaking with multiple considerations for each workload. It requires proper planning, communication, execution, and support. At Intellinet, there are four key pillars we have found help to ensure success of this critical initiative.
Securing Executive Sponsorship
As with most strategic initiatives, having executive leadership as well as leaders across business units fully engaged from the start is a key factor in success. A migration is typically a large undertaking that includes disruptions, downtime windows, and impact to end users. Take the time to set expectations with leadership and ensure they are committed and willing to help explain the goals and benefits of this migration as well as prepare department heads and user groups for the change.
Understanding Business and Tenant Landscape
Performing a detailed discovery of your tenants to understand all the workloads being used will help to inform your migration plan. We recommend using a combination of native and third-party tools to collect a thorough inventory of the tenant workloads. Once you have the inventory completed, dig into it by conducting workshops with stakeholders across departments and business units to get aligned on the landscape:
- Identify any key decisions and gaps pertaining to security, compliance, and governance standards that could impact users as they move from source to destination tenant.
- Highlight any areas within a given workload that have high degrees of difficulty and could impact the execution of the plan. For example, if you have custom developed SharePoint sites with critical business workflows, those will likely need additional white glove attention. You'll want to work with the business site owners to ensure you have a solid testing plan in place and all key pieces gets moved over safely and in working order.
Once you have collected this information from your discovery and stakeholder workshops, you can define the migration approach, communication plan, and timeline. With the plan outlined, use a sandbox environment to validate third party migration tools and test the execution of the plan to understand the finer points of any end user impact and any other larger impediments that could impact the business.
Building a Communication Plan and Change Network
This is an area that we see is often overlooked but we have found to be a critical part of success. In addition to the technical execution of the migration plan, the awareness and change management component is equally important. Making sure your organization is aware of this pending change is a key ingredient to the recipe. Consider implementing a strong organization change management (OCM) program to help define the goals and benefits of the project with leadership and use that when presenting to the organization. The OCM program can also help communicate expectations related to outage windows and end user impacts as well as create an internal support change network. Internal support change networks should consist of IT and non-IT staff to help evangelize the project with team members. This helps for awareness and can provide, following coaching, a level one level of support on migration cutover day.
Preparing for Execution and Support
When discovery and planning is complete and communication has started, you can confidently execute the final migration cutover plan. Prior to completing your final cutover, attempt to pre-stage as much of the workload content as possible. That way, you are only dealing with delta migration changes to content like email, OneDrive, and SharePoint when you get to cutover weekend. It is beneficial to have transparency into this process by completing and sharing a detailed timeline of activities planned for the final migration weekend and communicating at the defined intervals on how you are tracking against that timeline.
On day one of the cutover, plan to use an open call bridge for the internal support network to escalate issues when needed. Your support network team members are the boots on the ground assisting end users and the open call bridge provides an escalation point to get high priority issues cleared up quickly. With this process, make sure to identify any repetitive trends in reported support issues and work with OCM to quickly communicate the fix to the larger support staff.
Tenant-to-tenant migrations are not for the faint of heart. They require lots of attention, proper planning, communication, and skilled execution. I hope the four pillars we described above are helpful to your journey. If you have questions or need assistance with planning or executing your migration, feel free to contact us.