by Scott M. Lewis
There are many discussions these days when it comes to Office 365, SharePoint and Teams. Teams and SharePoint do play specific roles but different roles within the Office 365 environment. These differences may not be apparent to the average user, and be honest, most technical people sometimes don’t understand how the two programs work together. With the growing popularity of Teams, I’m going to clear some of the confusion and outline how Microsoft has integrated Teams and SharePoint platforms and the improved roles they can play within your organization.
Last month we discussed some of the limitations. An additional limitation could be limitations on storage. Storage allocations will depend on which subscription plan you are on; for example, a business on a Business Basic plan is limited to 1TB of storage, plus 10GB per license purchased. However, you get 25TB per site or group on the Business Basic plan for teams’ files. These limitations could mean that for historical or archival reasons, you don’t want to use Teams and SharePoint for a long-term historical data archive process. Historical or Archival data should be offloaded to a local file storage system that can be backed up and managed on in-house resources.
There are some other limitations in teams and compatibility with different browsers, such as Firefox or Google Chrome. The ability to share content or give control to someone else or incoming video feeds could be limited based on how the user is connecting to the session. The Teams portal is considered the most effective if you are a presenter or speaker verse a web browser. However, Microsoft is trying to improve Teams; in May of 2020, they increased the number of active speakers from 4 to 9. The bottom line is that Teams is not perfect, but it is getting better with every release.
Now, the big question is, what do you need to do to prepare for an Office 365 migration? One of the first steps is to decide which part of Office 365 you will use, Office, Teams, Skype, or the VoIP solutions. Once you know which part of the Office 365 suite you will use, you can plan what infrastructure changes will be required to determine if a Hybrid migration is best or if a full Microsoft 365 migration is the right solution. As part of the initial planning processes, you will need to map your Active Directory, and this might already be done if you have already partially migrated email to Office 365. However, you will still need to map out the synchronization of Exchange and setup SharePoint and Teams file structures and content to SharePoint Online. One of the most critical decisions is setting up user computers and mobile devices and validating the migration once it is complete.
Microsoft Office 365 has an Office 365 Deployment Readiness tool, an excellent tool for mapping out your complete migration. The Deployment Readiness tool is excellent if you don’t have the technical expertise to map out your current active directory settings and your domain settings. The Deployment Readiness tool will point you in the right technical direction and help you configure your system and the Office 365 environment for your migration.
When setting up your SharePoint environment through the Administration Center, you will have to be prepared; some decisions may be difficult to change later and require you to redo your implementation. These configuration items include your global site collection settings, Internet, Intranet, and Extranet configurations if they apply, along with profile and One drive settings. The administration center can also manage the site and user permissions, the site’s overall look, navigation, search, and social tagging. Take the time to consider all these items before you start your implementation; it will save you time, money, and headaches later.
When planning your end-user experience, make sure that you take your time and think through this process. Keep in mind that some users might access through a web browser, such as Internet Explorer, Firefox, Google Chrome, or even Apple Safari. While others will connect to the Office or Teams portal, they may have a whole different set of questions. Keep in mind if you are on a legacy Microsoft Office version or desktop, when you go to Office 365, you will be on the latest and greatest. The new versions of the software will create user confusion and maybe some negative feedback, so hold fast; they will learn it and get used to it.
As with anything, planning is critical, preparation is critical, documentation is critical. Hence, it is worth doing these things and ensuring that you have a smooth transition and create a positive experience. Microsoft has published many planning guides and information on migrating to Office 365 and how to prepare. You could opt-out to reading the guides and watch the videos if you prefer, but do one or the other, which will help your migration go smoothly.
You can imagine a long list of mistakes and pitfalls that directly impact the success and happiness of Office 365 migrations. These migrations can be difficult and complicated, so having an idea of the common mistakes will help you avoid them when deciding to migrate. According to Migration Monster, here are some of the more common mistakes you can avoid:
- As with any successful project, who you have lead is critical to the success of the project. Leadership will directly impact the outcome and the satisfaction of the project.
- Audit your systems, knowing what you have and how it is currently configured will make the whole process easier to design. Most organizations that have been in business for an extended period will have a lot of information, email, and historical data? One of the best practices before a migration is started is establishing archiving and retention policies that dictate where and when archiving old data is required and how much of that data will move to the Office 365 and Teams environments. Did you know that 95% of saved data is never accessed? In preparation for an Office 365 migration, it is a great time to archive email, accounting data, saved files and folders, just general archiving, and clean up all your stored data. Taking the time to do this step will result in cost savings for the migration and because Microsoft, at some point, does charge you for the volume of data they are storing.
- Involve a cross-section of your employees and departments. A migration to Office 365, Teams / SharePoint will not be seamless; it will affect all your employees’ manner and workflow. Including them in the process will lower the surprising effect, get additional setup information and reduce the disgruntled employee with the new processes.
- Planning, don’t rush; make sure it is right. The importance of planning is often overlooked or not done thoroughly, resulting in a less than satisfied result with the project. Fixing it or doing it twice costs money and delays the benefits of why you wanted to migrate to Office 365 in the first place.
- Training is critical, and don’t make the mistake with the perception that people will figure it out. Some may, but the general user will struggle with the migration if there is not good training documentation available. In most cases, this will affect just about every part of their job, from getting and sending an email, finding documents, and attending meetings. One suggestion would be to identify what parts of Office 365 you will use and then find the free videos published by Microsoft and start sending these out to the users to start preparing for the transition. At least you have a video library that you can point people to when the migration happens so they can do an easy refresher.
- Test, Test, and then test your Migration. Testing will ensure that people can get to their email, files, and other resources needed after the test migration. It provides a window of opportunity to fix and refine work processes, and most importantly, make sure that your permissions and security are set up correctly.
- Maintaining security and compliance is a big one; many mistakes you can make that are forgivable but exposing sensitive data are not one of them.
- Why is it so slow? I thought it was going to be faster? Network Bandwidth, we have all heard the comments; the system was faster when it was in-house or in a Hybrid cloud. I have designed over a thousand hybrid systems, and they are great because they make up for insufficient bandwidth, internet congestion, large files, and other bandwidth-related issues. However, if you are going to go to a full cloud solution, make sure that you have your bandwidth in check because that will directly impact the end-user experience. Ensure that if at all possible, you are on a business fiber connection and have matched speeds, i.e., 100 by 100 or 200 by 200; this will help your user’s happiness with the new environment. Also, it would help if you considered failover. If that Internet connection goes down, you’ll need a secondary connection because you will be utterly dependent on your connection and the speed of your connection.
In my opinion, Microsoft Team’s and SharePoint are the clear front runners for future online collaboration and workspace. However, there are many options, and it is essential to consider which option will be the right fit for your workspace and your business.
Scott Lewis is the President and CEO of Winning Technologies Group of Companies, including Liberty One Software. Scott has more than 36 years of experience in the technology industry and is a nationally recognized speaker and author on technology subjects. Scott has worked with hundreds of large and small businesses to empower them to use technology to improve work processes, increase productivity, and reduce costs. Scott has designed thousands of systems for large, medium, and small companies. Learn more about Winning Technologies at www.winningtech.com or call 877-379-8279. To learn more about Business Manager 365, visit www.businessmanager365.com.