Aside from security and compliance, another key consideration to make ahead of a Microsoft 365 file server migration is how to ensure the transition is seamless for end-users. The answer lies in organizational change management – and while the term may sound simple, its implementation can be incredibly challenging.
You might be tempted to overlook change management and consider the project complete once the files have been moved. However, if you’re going to maximize your investment in Microsoft technologies, file migration is just one part of the transition.
That’s because a technology transformation not only introduces new technologies but also new processes and ways of working. Both elements are equally critical to end-user adoption and the success of the project.
Many IT leaders and decision-makers focus on the technical aspects of a file server migration: discovery, design, planning, piloting, migration and cut-over – as these are the tasks systems engineers are trained for.
However, AdaptivEdge’s File Server Migration Playbook lists an organizational change management activity as part of the first step in the process: stakeholder communication. Stakeholder communication feeds directly into a larger change management program, which is a critical element of any large transformational business initiative.
The benefits of organizational change management in a file server migration
It can be challenging to convey the importance and nuances of organizational change management when executing a cloud migration initiative, but it’s just as essential as implementing the technology (if not more so).
Effective change management can ensure a smooth and successful implementation of any large transformational business initiative. A Microsoft 365 migration is just the type of project that benefits from the principles of organizational change management, no matter how big your company is or what products or services you offer.
Remember: the goal is not just to migrate your files to the Microsoft Cloud; your goal is to get employees to leverage and benefit from the new system.
IT change management is a proven way to ensure your company reaps the benefits of your Microsoft 365 investment: lower costs, increased collaboration and enhanced IT security. However, many people within an organization resist changing to a new way of working because it’s difficult, the benefits aren’t explained well, and the training isn’t intuitive.
Thus, the first step in our process is to ensure that the file server migration aligns with your business strategy. Clearly communicating the migration’s benefits to key stakeholders gains executive sponsorship and ensures you have the budget and the resources to implement the change successfully.
Another key step right at the outset of the project is to identify change champions. These are your cheerleaders – they see your vision, adopt and test the technology early, and evangelize the benefits to their coworkers. Your ambassadors can have big titles, or they can be the “go-to” person who flies under the radar. The change advocate role, though, is critical in not just spreading the word about the migration but also in representing users and giving their feedback directly to the project team.
IIn addition to this prep work and informal feedback from change agents, you need formal, regularly scheduled communications to keep people at all levels apprised of the progress of the file server migration. Communications should clearly and transparently explain why you’re making the change, what users can expect, and how it will benefit them and the organization in the long run. Provide updates on milestones and any actions required, and explain any challenges you face that might delay implementation.
The value of end-user training in a Microsoft 365 environment
An effective change management plan for a Microsoft 365 implementation begins with the end in mind: the end user, that is. We highly recommend having a thorough plan for end-user training and adoption.
It’s important to ensure that end-user training is not an afterthought; rather, it works best when it is a parallel, integrated work stream that dovetails with the migration. For many people, accessing and interacting with newly migrated content in Microsoft 365 represents a significant shift in how they are used to working. In almost all cases, Microsoft 365 provides more features and functionality than the previous information architecture; however, users will not typically adopt these features without training.
For example, a shift to the cloud often represents a paradigm shift in how people communicate. One simple behavioral shift that’s prevalent in many migrations is teaching users to send links to documents versus attaching documents in email.
Training users on how to sync SharePoint and OneDrive libraries via the OneDrive Sync app is a critical training and enablement activity. The OneDrive Sync app allows users to sync and access SharePoint, Teams, and OneDrive files locally via File Explorer. Since users are accustomed to accessing file server content via File Explorer this approach provides familiar and intuitive access to migrated content now residing in the cloud.
Good end-user training recognizes that people don’t learn new technology or behaviors in a single training session or multiple training sessions where they merely watch and listen to a trainer. Instead, most people – and in particular, technology workers – need repeated hands-on experience with the technology to develop competence and drive adoption.
In addition, a training portal where training resources can be centrally located and revisited by users on an as-needed basis can foster and support this type of learning model.
Short, task-based training videos that are polished and professional can help a user absorb information quickly, efficiently, and in a manner in which they learn best. End users can watch the videos at their own pace, without having to set aside an hour or more during the workday to sit through an extensive training session.
The benefit of this approach to end-user training is you have a library of dynamic content that allows for ongoing learning and supports the growth of your business, with less need for 1:1 support.
Ongoing change management lead to a successful Microsoft 365 adoption
After months of working on the file server migration, it might be tempting to move on after cutover and go-live. But a Microsoft 365 project plan that incorporates ongoing support and continues to encourage user adoption will be essential to driving lasting change throughout the organization.
This is where the power of the change advocate network comes in. By identifying and empowering change champions (who are ideally not supervisors or department leads) to help drive the change throughout the organization means you have trusted colleagues and friends who really know the system and can influence how others take advantage of it. Within minutes, change agents can show their colleagues where files are, how to navigate the system, and how easy the Microsoft 365 environment is for getting work done.
As we’ve stated previously, a file server migration is a significant investment that comes with risks. However, the risk that employees will not take full advantage of Microsoft 365’s capabilities is absolutely one you can manage.
A strong organizational change management project takes time, discipline, and effort. But the benefits are worth it as you will have power users and champions throughout the organization who personally invest their time and energy to ensure the business benefits from all that Microsoft 365 offers. For more information on working with an experienced end user adoption consultant to incorporate organizational change management principles into your Microsoft 365 migration, contact an AdaptivEdge expert.
Note: This is the second blog in a two-part series on important elements of a successful Microsoft 365 file server migration. For a full understanding of aspects to consider before moving your data, read File Server Migration Considerations: Security and Compliance .