Migration to the cloud has been a hot topic in recent years, becoming vital to some as cell service. Many companies are shifting their dated on-premises infrastructure to cloud-based offerings to make it easier to connect to critical systems from anywhere.

But moving isn't as simple as flipping a switch, particularly for those with data in a myriad of 'in-house' systems.

We have many calls with customers at various stages of the move, and these discussions have shed light on a variety of challenges and potential approaches to making the shift.

As you're likely aware, C5 Insight lives by the LUCK principle—Listen—Understand—Connect—Know— and these apply to nearly every aspect of a thriving business. Over the following few articles, we'll explore the four components of a migration strategy critical to the project's success.

Without further ado, let's dive in.

Connect: Migrate and Upgrade

You've listened and analyzed the data. You've validated your understanding and built out a migration plan.

You know what data is coming over, what you're doing with the information you're not migrating, and created a strategy to manage the necessary components to configure/build-out.

Now it's time to put those plans into action.

Lifecycle Services

Microsoft's Lifecycle Services supports organizations through an on-premises to cloud migration. The program works with the customer and their migration partner to conduct an upgrade and help identify where issues might arise.

From there, the customer and partner need to address the issues—typically upgrades to dated code or the removal/adjustment of unsupported features. They will conduct this upgrade multiple times to catch and resolve all concerns.

It's important to note that while there is no official timeframe for this offer to expire, it won't likely be around forever. It's wise to get started on this path sooner than later.

Partner or No Partner

If using the Lifecycle Services just discussed, you'll need a migration partner to support you. If you are tackling the upgrade yourself, it's still ideal to consult with a partner. There are several types of engagements you can find in this regard.

Support - the project ownership is on the customer while the partner is there to provide consultative services.

While this can be useful, you may not get the full attention you'd prefer. The partner will likely fit you between engagements with other projects, leaving you with inconsistent support responses.

Co-Manage - the upgrade initiative is a shared responsibility between the customer and the partner.

There must be clear awareness from both parties of agreed-upon roles and responsibilities for this to work efficiently. These engagements can give rise to confusion about who is truly leading the initiative, which can slow progress.

Implement - the partner leads the initiative for you. Generally, the partner would have:

  • a project manager to help keep timelines and tasks,
  • a dedicated solution resource is also likely to be engaged to help work through issues and configuration needs,
  • and developers on standby to help with any items that present challenges.

Communication, Communication, Communication

Regardless of the path you choose, communication is critical. You want to keep your team up to date throughout the project. Weekly status calls can keep the momentum going forward while identifying and discussing risks as they arise.

You'll also want to keep your users, executives, and project sponsors up to date on the process so they can lend support if the need arises.

Leverage your champions throughout the project as they are often the people within your organization who are likely to share progress with others enthusiastically.

Creating a Microsoft Team and including all relevant stakeholders is an excellent step in the right direction. It's a great tool to get a collaborative effort rolling and be the hub for project-related documentation.

Avoid Loss of Momentum

You'll notice that several of these points revolve around the idea of project momentum. Be honest with your team—migration projects are usually not a "cakewalk."

There will be challenges and hiccups along the way. Keeping positive project momentum helps ensure people are motivated to work through them instead of becoming frustrated or disengaged.

Change Management

Don't forget that you have users who will be experiencing a change in how they get to and use the system.

There will likely be a new UI and new features showing up, and users need to know this in advance. It's vital to get your users some hands-on time with the upgraded system before the official cut-over happens.

Leverage a trial or sandbox environment. Offer training that shows some of the new features and how they will use them. Give them access to an environment they can play around in to get familiar with the tools.

You can even create tasks for them to accomplish in the new system, for example:

  • Use the new Advanced Filtering feature to change a view.
  • Ask them to find data from various records to familiarize them with navigation and layout changes.
  • Have them create new records to get familiar with the new form layout.

If you have questions about how to build an effective migration strategy for your organization, reach out to C5 Insight—we'd be thrilled to connect with you!