The keys to a successful Office 365 migration

December 12th, 2015

Office365_Dec11_AMicrosoft Office 365 is growing in popularity as more and more businesses make the move to the cloud. However, without proper planning and testing beforehand, you could get stuck in the middle of the migration process, end up with duplicated data, or even have to abort the transition completely. Needless to say, all of these scenarios could result in serious network downtime. But you can easily avoid a migration nightmare by considering these key points before making the switch to Office 365.

Do your research

Researching Office 365 can seem a little overwhelming at first, but it will certainly give you a good idea of how everything will work, and what you can expect before, during, and after the migration process. You should understand and anticipate how your business’s daily operations will change when you make the move to a cloud-based platform. You also need to be aware that traditional Microsoft Office programs and Office 365 applications are completely different in terms of functionality, features, and interface.

Create a checklist

Most businesses fail to create a comprehensive migration checklist, because they tend to focus on the technical aspects without addressing other areas that are critical to the migration’s success. These include elements such as training, informing users, and gathering adoption feedback. You can start by drafting a step-by-step plan that clearly defines the phases of the migration process, and then keep refining the plan until everything is covered.

Check email settings

For a seamless transition, you need to synchronize accounts between your active directory domain and Office 365, by using Microsoft’s Azure Active Directory Synchronization tool. Don’t forget to point your company’s mail exchanger record to Office 365, so new emails will be sent directly to the new mailboxes in Office 365. Misconfiguration of email sync during the migration could flag your organization’s email as spam, disrupting the communication process with your clients and partners.

Choose your migration

Each migration plan looks different, and you should choose the one that best fits your needs. Generally, Office 365 migrations can be divided into three categories:
  • Cutover migration - this is a single provisioning and transfer of mailboxes, users, contacts, and mail groups to Office 365. The cutover process can handle up to 2,000 mailboxes, and the migration time depends on the number of users and mail volume.
  • Staged migration - if you don’t want to migrate all your resources at once, staged migration is a good alternative. It allows you to move mailboxes in smaller batches over a much longer period of time.
  • Hybrid migration - this type of migration is perfect for organizations that need to move more than 2,000 mailboxes and wish to run local Exchange servers and Office 365 simultaneously.

Test everything

Once you have broken down the whole migration into various phases, it will be easy to design a testing procedure for each phase. Standard testing processes include migrating a small amount of data, sending and receiving emails, and application trials, in order to ensure that everything works as expected. The more components you can test before migrating to the platform, the less chance there is of your company facing issues afterwards.

If you’re considering an Office 365 migration, why not let our expert technicians do the job for you? We can migrate your resources seamlessly and smoothly without disrupting your business. Get in touch today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

October 28th, 2015

Office365_Oct20_AOutlook is considered one of the most powerful email platforms due to its ability to enable business users to manage emails, contacts, tasks, appointments, and so much more. But most people only use a small percentage of the features available in Outlook, without mastering the shortcuts and advanced features. We highlight some nifty tricks that will help you realize the full potential of Outlook and make the most of your email communications.

Filter emails

We all get bombarded with new emails every day. Finding relevant emails and messages that you really need to re-read can be time-consuming, especially if you have to keep going back to old emails in a huge inbox. That’s where the Filter Email option comes in. With this filter you can instantly sort your mailbox to show only certain types of emails, such as those with attachments and specific time periods. You can also type into the search box to drill down even further in your filtered view.

Write new emails instantly

This shortcut is designed to save you time from switching back and forth between Outlook and other programs. Regardless of what you currently have on your screen, you can create new emails, appointments, meetings, contacts, and tasks easily. Simply right-click on the Outlook icon to open a list containing these direct shortcuts.

Assign categories

If you receive a large number of emails every day, it certainly helps to create categories and assign emails to their corresponding groups. Outlook allows you to create color-coded categories such as green for Done, yellow for Pending, orange for Urgent, red for Due, and so on. This way you can quickly identify the status of each email and prioritize your tasks at a glance. To create a new category, right click on the Categories column and select All Categories from the dropdown list.

Create folders

This is one of the most basic and useful email management tips that is often overlooked. You can avoid cluttering your inbox by creating custom folders for specific emails. While there’s no limit to the number of folders you can create, the general rule of thumb is to create a folder for each client or subject. To create custom folders, simply right click on Outlook’s left navigational panel and choose New Folder from the dropdown list. Moving the emails from your inbox to a custom folder is as easy as dragging and dropping.

Email templates

If you have to send emails that contain the same basic information that is rarely updated, templates can save you a lot of time. Start by writing a new email message, entering essential information that you need to reuse, and leaving a visible blank space for new information that needs to be changed each time you send the message. Then navigate to the Files tab and choose Save As. From the dialog box, change the file type to Outlook Template (*.oft), and save. Whenever you want to use the template, head over to New Items > More Items > Choose Form... and select the template file that you have saved, then begin customizing it.

Outlook is a great email communication software that is included in the Microsoft Office 365 package. For more information about Office 365 and how it can improve your business’s productivity and bottom line, get in touch with our experts today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

September 5th, 2015

Office365_Aug27_AMicrosoft’s Outlook has proved to be a robust email and calendar experience on the web, allowing users to stay connected safely, securely and easily. The tech giant is now pushing things even further with a bunch of updates to Outlook in Office 365 that aim to help users become more efficient and better manage their calendar. With that in mind, let’s have a look at all the new features in Office 365’s Outlook.

Cleaner UI

Outlook in Office 365 now features a simplified, cleaner user interface (UI) that aims to help you work more efficiently. A new Action bar is available across Mail, Calendar, People and Task experiences, for utmost convenience and ease of use. The Action toolbar provides quick access to commands like clearing your inbox, replying to an email or adding an event to your calendar.

The email subject line is larger and more prominent, and messages in the reading pane are now indented for easier reading. More buttons in Calendar allow for simpler navigation and quicker creation of new meetings.

Enhanced inbox control

New tools have been added to help you sort through your email and identify the most important items to tackle first.
  • Pin - you can now pin any message in your inbox to have it highlighted in yellow and kept at the top of your inbox. This keeps important messages handy and prevents them from getting lost in your inbox.
  • Sweep - provides a simple set of actions to manage emails from specific senders, great for managing recurring messages like newsletters and special promotions. You can choose to keep messages from a specific sender for a specified number of days, only keep the most recent message, or delete all messages from the sender.
  • Archive - quickly move messages out of the inbox to a folder of choice with one-click archiving.
  • Undo - undo unintended actions with a single click.
  • Improved single-line view - a preview of the message contents in line with the subject, allowing you to perform common actions in bulk and more quickly.
  • Immersive reading pane - when in single-line view, clicking a message now displays the message in the same window.

Visually engaging emails

Outlook in Office 365 now provides the ability to easily resize images, add custom borders, apply shadow effects, rotate images, and more. Emojis have also been added, so you can express yourself better than ever before. You can also find the people you want to reach more easily; when you place your cursor on the recipient line, Outlook shows a list of the people and distribution groups you most commonly email. The list of recipients is automatically refined as you type, and adapts as the people you email change over time.

Calendar improvements

Calendar now features a five-day weather forecast. Icons next to each day give you a quick look at the forecast, and clicking on one will show a more detailed view. Calendar now supports charms - icons you can choose from to apply as visual cues that help you quickly identify different types of events. For instance, you can add an airplane charm to an upcoming flight, a music note for a piano class, and so on.

You can also create email reminders for any Calendar event and specify the recipient list, include a quick message, and set the day and time you want the email reminder to be sent. Birthday and holiday calendars are also available, and can be either overlaid across your work calendar or viewed separately.

Better mobile browser experience

A number of UI and navigational improvements has been made to enhance the mobile browsing experience, including updates to more closely resemble the UI of Outlook apps on Windows, Mac, iOS and Android. Navigation has been improved in order to simplify switching between Mail, Calendar and People, and comes along with more prominent search commands. A better UI allows for the simpler creation of new events and ease of using the scheduling assistant in Calendar, and the Time strip has been updated to show the full week within the calendar. You can now switch between emails without returning to the message list, too.

Looking to learn more about Office 365, its applications and how they can benefit your business? Talk to one of our Office 365 experts; contact us today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.