Planning and allocating resources is probably one of the most difficult parts of any IT project. Planning an email migration is no different.
During a migration, I would commonly suggest that a support person plan on 1 hour of labor for every desktop and 1.5 hours for every laptop involved in the migration. I would also suggest planning 30 minutes of labor for each mobile device that needs to be configured.
The time estimates may seem excessive but it usually allows for plenty of cushion should something happen. Usually, reconfiguring Outlook to connect to a new Exchange server and mailbox should only take about 15 minutes. But there are so many things that can suddenly take a desktop visit from 15 minutes to 2-3 hours. A solid understanding of the existing environment and preparation can help minimize any delays.
Common Bumps Along the Way
I have listed a couple of the most common delays that can occur when cutting over to a new email solution.
- User is not available for computer access. This can mean spending time to reset the user’s password. Then additional support is required to make sure the user can get logged in when they return.
- Desktop issues: If a computer has not been properly maintained, extra time may be required to install updates. A computer may also have issues where just starting the computer takes 5-10 minutes.
- BlackBerry Enterprise Activation: Any BlackBerry Enterprise Activation requires a security wipe before activation. The whole process, if everything works can take 20 minutes. But a lost signal during activation can mean starting all over and another 20 minute.
Minimizing Migration Migraines
- Begin with a well-maintained environment. Not only does this mean having all systems updated, but it means good documentation. You do not want to find yourself on the night of the change over trying to find the credentials to your DNS host.
- Prepare and educate your users. With early and frequent reminders, you can minimize the support questions during and after the migration.
- Have a contingency plan in place. You and your users should know what to do if something will delay the last steps of a migration. Make sure that your users know how to get their email if you are going to be delayed in getting to their desktop or mobile device.
Proper planning and foresight can make the migration from a current email solution to Hosted Exchange a surprisingly painless transition. No matter how urgent the need is to migrate, take the time to make sure you understand each step. Don’t worry though, a good hosted email provider (like Intermedia, for instance) will be there to explain every step to you and walk you through the whole process. But still, a little planning can go a long way to ensure a migraine-free migration.