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The Challenges of M&A Driven O365 Tenant Consolidation – Part II

Jun 4, 2020 by Nigel Williams

Colleagues discussing an Office 365 tenant migration

Why Speed Counts in Office 365 Tenant Migrations

In part I of this series, we reviewed the integration challenges facing organizations that make acquisition a key part of their growth strategy. In part II we’ll take a look at some practical steps to keep up with the pace of integration required by the business.

The dilemma faced by companies that regularly make acquisitions is that whilst time is at a premium, consistent, high-quality delivery is a given. Without an effective methodology, it is likely that one of these two variables is going to suffer.

Unfortunately, homegrown tools designed to support the integration are not very effective in balancing speed with quality. With a service in constant change, and often requiring lengthy reconciliation work, ensuring the currency of the integration toolset is just too time-consuming to be feasible.

Reporting and Reconciliation

Every time there is a setting change to a service, this has to be reconciled. Each feature, and each configuration option, is also another item that needs to be reported on, and any conflict reconciled.

Let’s take the example of Teams Private Channels. If the source company supported these or didn’t turn the feature off, but the target company did not support them, the integration team has to report on the scope, evaluate the business case in both tenants, and then determine what the final configuration will be. Only after this lengthy process can the reconciled feature be added to the plan.

Keeping the toolset up-to-date severely compromises the value of homegrown tools, which are inefficient even in a static environment by the varying methods used to manage them. Flipping between admin centers, Graph commands, audit log data, and, of course, PowerShell is just not conducive to productivity.

Effective Planning

In most cases, tools built and maintained by a third-party software company can keep up with change much better, particularly if delivered as SaaS.

This allows the integration team to focus on creating repeatable processes and using the tools, instead of updating scripts and data collection methods. Using a toolset in a consistent fashion also supports the creation of a repeatable process.

The data collection process can be used to inform the integration process and make it repeatable, fast, and accurate. This is what we collect when planning a Microsoft 365 cross-tenant migration:

  • Users – the number, and what they are enabled to do
  • Volume of data – a key factor in determining the length of the project
  • Usage and activity – usage is indicative of the impact of change and helps to identify items that don’t need to move, e.g. unused mail distribution lists
  • Workload Configurations – these are key to establishing potential user experience problems, e.g. anonymous links being disabled in the target (a method previously used for collaboration with users who don’t have a Microsoft account).

At Quadrotech we use the reporting capabilities of the Nova Office 365 management platform to accomplish all these steps and establish consistent, repeatable planning. This can even be performed across tenants if the project involves consolidation. Typically, we use a core of 20 reports across:

  • Azure AD
  • Exchange
  • ODFB
  • Office 365 Groups
  • SharePoint
  • Yammer

With so much information the team could review it really pays to focus on a consistent set of data to build a repeatable methodology. With good reporting and analytics, it becomes much easier to make decisions quickly and hone the project – eliminating guesswork in the process.

Whilst clearly this improves speed and improves the chances of hitting the project deadline, it also has a substantial positive effect on the user experience, which is one of the most important measures of a successful Office 365 tenant migration.

If your organization engages in M&A activity and you’d like to discuss Office 365 tenant migrations, please contact our specialist team. We can help you plan and execute your move, capable of achieving 1 TB per hour speeds for Exchange Online data.