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Migrating from G Suite to Office 365 – A Comprehensive Guide for Business Owners

Microsoft’s Office 365 and Google’s G Suite are the two leading contenders when it comes to business optimization in the Cloud. While the two platforms share a variety of similar features and applications, administrators know that there are some distinct differences between the two Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) productivity platforms.

What are the benefits of Microsoft Office 365 over Google G Suite?  Watch our webinar recording focused on “Google G Suite vs. Microsoft Office 365”

This means, for administrators looking to migrate data from G Suite to Office 365, making careful considerations about platform differences can make the transition run smoother. While Microsoft offers an Office 365 Onboarding Guide, it doesn’t address all the potential considerations for users migrating from G Suite.

Setting Sail: Strategies for a Smooth G Suite to Office 365 Migration

To ensure no G Suite data is lost in translation, it’s critical that businesses take a moment to examine their situation and develop a migration strategy. By implementing migration best practices, administrators can better manage the migration from G Suite to Office 365 and make sure all data is transferred successfully.

There are a variety of third-party tools and services that business owners can use to migrate data from Google’s cloud to Microsoft’s online office suite. Regardless of which tools or services you use, developing an overall migration strategy will help your company avoid the common pitfalls and problems associated with G Suite to Office 365 migrations.

Before launching a migration, companies need to answer four key questions. Answers to these questions will determine the type and scope of your migration. Having these answers firmly in place before the migration process begins will prevent problems down the road and make the overall process run smoother.

Let’s explore each of the four questions below:

What Data Needs to be Migrated?

First and foremost, determine what G Suite data needs to be migrated into Outlook. For most organizations, the critical element of migration is focused on migrating email data from Gmail to Outlook or Exchange. Because email is such a foundational part of operations for all modern businesses, this data is usually the most important element of the migration process. So, for some businesses, migration will be heavily focused on migrating email data and nothing else.

However, if organizations are looking to move more than email data, a few other questions arise. For instance, is all the data coming from G Suite or does data need to be migrated from additional apps and platforms used by different departments? Do different users have different kinds of data that need to be migrated? Having answers to these questions is a critical part of ensuring migration is constructive and efficient. Furthermore, asking all the necessary questions ensures that no data is left behind.

Will you Deploy a DIY Migration or Enlist Outside Help?

Next, it’s critical to choose how you’re going to undertake the migration process. For some businesses, going it alone may be the most cost-effective option – especially if there are some tech-savvy team members on staff. If your company decides to take on the migration process without external help, be sure to do your research and get the lay of the land before diving in. Microsoft has a variety of instruction manuals designed to help business owners understand and master the migration process – we’ll touch on those later.

For companies looking to enlist support, there are a number of third-party services out there that specialize in Office 365 migrations. Additionally, if your organization works with an IT MSP, their team can help manage or at least provide expert assistance with the migration process. No matter what, if you decide to enlist third-party migration help, make sure to make that decision before you start the migration process. Bringing in outside help mid-migration can be incredibly complex and expensive.

What’s in Your Migration Toolbox?

Once you’ve determined your migration team – whether it be internal, external or a mix of both – it’s just as important to build a migration ‘toolbox’. There are a wide variety of software tools and services designed specifically to arm business owners with everything they need for a successful migration.

This wide range of tools includes totally free options and some solutions that carry a price tag. The free solutions simply do Internet Message Access Protocol (IMAP) transfers between Gmail and Office 365 accounts. Alternatively, the priced solutions offer more complex SaaS tools that map and move data between Google and Microsoft accounts. However, business owners should make explicit considerations about cost and compatibility issues before deploying or investing in any of these tools.

What is Your Migration Timeline?

As much as we’d love to say it’s like flipping a switch, migration from G Suite to Office 365 takes time and care. Unless you have a very low number of users, it’s unwise to migrate every account from G Suite to Office 365 at once. In fact, even for companies with a low number of domains, ‘all at once’ migration is not the most strategic approach.

Migration should happen in waves, and start with a pilot subgroup of users who will have the easiest time adapting. If possible, break up your migration into at least three stages. Experts suggest:

  • 10 percent of users in the first wave,
  • 40 percent of user accounts in the second, and
  • The remaining 50 percent in the third.

Be sure to leave ample time between each stage to troubleshoot any problems discovered during each phase. By setting a clear, reasonable timeline before your migration starts, you’ll avoid mistakes and future headaches.

Migration from G Suite to Office 365: A Step-by-Step Migration Check List

Once you’ve answered all the necessary questions about your migration strategy, you can use the Setup Wizard in the Office 365 Admin Center for migration. The full scope of instructions can be found here. For comprehensive details on the basics of IMAP migration, check out the background info here.

However, before Office 365 can connect to Gmail or G Suite accounts, all users need to create an app password to access their account. This is because Google considers Outlook to be a less secure app and will not allow a connection to it with a password alone. For full details on how to connect Office 365 to G Suite, check out these instructions. Furthermore, learn how to set up 2-step verification here.

In addition to the information provided above, here is a basic list of steps in the migration process:

  • Step 1: Verify that you own your domain
  • Step 2: Add users to Office 365
  • Step 3: Create a list of Gmail mailboxes to migrate
  • Step 4: Connect Office 365 to Gmail
  • Step 5: Create a migration batch and start migrating Gmail mailboxes
  • Step 6: Update your DNS records to route Gmail directly to Office 365
  • Step 7: Stop synchronization with Gmail
  • Step 8: Users manually import their calendar and contacts

IMPORTANT NOTE: As reflected in Step 8, migration will only transfer email data, not calendar and contact information. However, users do have the ability to manually import their own contacts, calendar info and other mailbox data to Office 365 once the migration is complete. Full instructions on how to make manual imports can be found here.

Making the switch from one platform to another usually results because of headaches or shortcomings. The migration process shouldn’t be another hassle for business owners to worry about. Though it may seem complicated and daunting, migrating from G Suite to Office 365 doesn’t have to be an uphill battle – so long as business owners pay attention to the tips, tricks, and instructions outlined above.

If your company is thinking about making the switch, be sure to use this outline as a guide for making your migration run as smooth as possible. Taking time to consider your migration strategy will make execution easier than ever. In turn, the migration will be implemented more efficiently and users will adapt better to the switch.

However, if your head is spinning and you’re looking for a little extra help in navigating the migration process, reach out to a team of local technology experts for guidance and consultation. When it comes to migration, a little help from the industry pro’s goes a long way in optimizing efficiency and productivity.