It’s better to plan this digital transformation well in advance, using your renewal date as a future deadline. You want to have a migration plan in place long before you have to renew your Microsoft solution.
Why? You need time to determine which Google Workspace plan you want to use: Basic, Business or Enterprise. Google Workspace’s billing system is far more straightforward than Microsoft programs and also comes with unlimited cloud storage at the business and enterprise levels.
Once you’re up and running, you’ll find that because Google Workspace is easier to use and doesn’t require legacy hardware, you’ll save money and streamline your IT operations.
Here’s some food for thought about ROI as you’re planning your migration strategy and taking numbers into account: In January 2019, Google commissioned Forrester Research Inc. to do a study that examined the total potential return on investment Google Workspace delivers.
The report revealed that over a three-year period, payback on investment would occur within the first 12 months post-migration. Composite results of interviews of eight Google Workspace customers indicated top-line revenue growth at an additional $12.9 million after transformation and total end-user and IT productivity gains totaling $23.6 million. The total ROI was 331%.
When making a switch to Google Workspace from Microsoft Exchange or Office 365, you’ll also need to strategize how you will move your email, calendar, files and more from a legacy platform to the cloud in the case of Microsoft Exchange or Microsoft Office 365. What do you move first? What employees should migrate first? How are you going to announce the change to your staff?
There’s more involved than not renewing your license and suddenly making the switch to Google Workspace instead. It takes planning to determine which of the billing plans will give you the ROI you need and how you want to tackle the migration across your organization.
What Does it Take to Switch to Google Workspace from Microsoft?
The path you take to get your organization off of Microsoft Exchange, Office 365 or even just Outlook into a Google Workspace environment differs depending on the size of your company.
All organizations will need to create and access a Google Workspace administrator account. This is where your IT team will manage Google services for your users. Next comes setting up a Google Workspace account for your organization.
Let’s say you’re a medium-sized business with just under 150 employees and have decided to start planning for a Google Workspace migration. You can set up your account and add users in bulk, as well as sync and migrate their Microsoft data.
A qualified migration partner can help you simplify the process, which also includes verifying your domain ownership and setting up your domain’s MX records so your mail will go to the Gmail inbox.
At the enterprise level (250+ employees), it’s often best to work with a migration partner. A qualified partner will have experience in helping you plan a smooth migration and implement a communications program to get your employees on board with making this important change in the name of productivity and collaboration.
Here’s a Google-recommended timeline for enterprise migrations to give you an idea of the process:
Google Workspace Migration: Days 0 to 30
- Roll out Google Workspace to your IT pilot team.
- Develop your migration plan and mobile and authentication strategies.
- Identify potential early adopters, roughly about 5% of your staff.
- Make the initial company-wide announcement of the upcoming change.
Google Workspace Migration: Days 31 to 60
- Migrate early adopters’ email and calendars to Google Workspace.
- Configure early adopters’ mobile devices.
- Continue company-wide awareness building.
- Mobilize Help Desk operations.
Google Workspace Migration: Days 61-90
- Create Google Workspace accounts for remaining users.
- Complete data migration.
- Launch authentication services.
- Prepare company-wide “go-live” communications, training and support programs.
How Do I Ensure the Migration from Microsoft to Google Workspace is a Success?
No matter the size of your company, before you fully roll out the new platform we suggest that you run a pilot with only a few users to make sure everything is up and running as it should be.
The pilot won’t interrupt anyone’s current email and will allow users to keep their current email address. You can set this up with something called “dual delivery,” which will deliver messages to both a Gmail inbox and another inbox that’s not on the Gmail platform, such as Microsoft Exchange. It’s a great way to make a transition and get a pilot program going.
A typical Google Workspace pilot initiative includes these five steps:
- Users sign into their Gmail account using the credentials provided to them.
- Have them start sending and receiving mail from Gmail. (Again, their email address won’t change.)
- Select a few users to migrate their data by importing old emails, calendar events and contacts into Google Workspace from the existing Microsoft environment. You also can choose to do this directly from your legacy server.
- Set up mobile devices by syncing mail, calendar and contacts.
- Help them explore all of Google Workspace features, including Docs, Sheets, Slides, Calendar, Drive and more.
In addition to a pilot program, you’ll want to institute a change management initiative. Switching productivity platforms can rattle some workers, and it’s important to reassure everyone that the change will be easy and will be a good experience.
Be sure to address the concerns your team has about the migration and provide them with ample training resources, including some in-person training to help them get familiarized with Google Workspace before they have to use it on a daily basis.
Also consider setting up a Google Guides program, perhaps using team members who experienced Google Workspace in your pilot program. These guides can then help their peers learn about this new tool and lessen reliance on your IT team during the transition.
By driving awareness and excitement about your move from a legacy Microsoft environment to the more collaborative, connected work experience, you can make the switch to Google Workspace seamless and comfortable for all of your users.
In the process, you’ll create a more flexible organization that will be more agile as they work better together.