Here are two trends you probably know about: Lots of organizations are migrating to Office 365, and merger and acquisition (M&A) activity is on the rise. Each trend is somewhat interesting on its own, in an abstract sort of way, but put them together, and IT pros really should take notice and do the math:

Your organization is likely going to be part of a merger or acquisition


The other company involved will probably have also a Microsoft cloud environment.


You’re going to have to complete an Office 365 tenant-to-tenant migration in the not-too-distant future, probably on short notice.

Migrations are complex projects, so it’s smart to get familiar with best practices well ahead of time. To help, I’ve put together the top 6 expert tips on Office 365 tenant migration:

1. Determine the true scope of the migration.

It’s essential to take the time to understand exactly what your migration project should include. Do you have to migrate accounts only, or email and OneDrive data as well? Nailing down expectations will help you avoid unpleasant surprises later, and getting at least a rough idea of how much data is involved will help you make an initial estimate of timelines and resource requirements.

2. Determine what to migrate — and what to leave behind.

Once you have the broad scope nailed down, really dig into the specifics for each type of data, such as whether you need to include all those thousands of cloud-only B2B and B2C accounts in the source Azure AD, and whether those gigabytes or terabytes of archived email data are really still required for business, legal or compliance purposes. Taking the time to think things through and limit the scope of the migration will really pay off — you can shorten your project timeline and reduce risk, and also come out on the other side with a target environment that’s a whole lot easier to manage and secure.

But you can’t do this alone — only your business knows which users and data needs to be migrated, so work with them to determine what should go and what can be left behind. You’ll also need to work closely with them to set up the migration schedule, so you can avoid migrating groups during their busiest weeks, for instance, or migrating only part of a functional team that spans departments.

3. Back up the existing environments.

Before you perform any migration jobs, you should definitely back up both the source and target environments. Make sure you include all on-premises and cloud-only objects (users, groups, group membership and so on) that are important to your business.  That way, if something goes wrong with your migration, you’ll be able to get the business on its feet again quickly. Don’t make the mistake of counting on the Azure AD Recycle Bin to save you; while it’s a handy tool in some situations, it was never designed to be an enterprise backup and recovery solution.

4. Make sure you can monitor and report on the progress of the migration in real time.

Here’s something I’m sure I don’t have to convince you of — lots of people will want to know how the migration is progressing, and you’re going to be far too busy to respond to constant requests for updates. So, in addition to ensuring your team can easily monitor the status of migration tasks in real time, ideally you want to provide management with a dashboard that enables them to access high-level status information on their own whenever they want.

5. Think about helpdesk capacity throughout the migration.

Here’s another thing I bet you already know — users will need support. Early on, your helpdesk staff might field only a few questions about the migration. But once the train gets rolling, there will be a lot more calls and tickets, so be sure the helpdesk is staffed appropriately based on the number of accounts or mailboxes you’re migrating on a given day.

6. Invest in the right tools, but remember you still need proper planning and experience.

I already mentioned the need for an enterprise backup and recovery solution, but you’ll want to invest in other tools as well. In addition to a good migration solution, you’ll need tools for discovery, auditing and reporting, and post-migration management. You really don’t want to try to tackle any these tasks with PowerShell scripts, and the tools will continue to make your life easier and your environment more secure long after the migration.

Still, migrations are both complex and critical, and most IT pros have little experience with them. Asking for help doesn’t mean you’re not smart or adaptable; it means you’re looking at the big picture. Spending a little to getting help from experts with a long track record of success will pay off handsomely when your migration is completed on budget, on schedule and with minimal impact to the business.

Ready to learn more?

Ready for more expert tips that will help you prepare for a successful migration? Our new ebook, “Don’t just survive Office 365 tenant migration — master it!” details a set of broad best practices for tenant-to-tenant migration, as well as specific best practices for account migration, mailbox migration and OneDrive migration.

Download E-Book

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