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April 5, 2023 | Frank Suglia

Steps to Successfully Migrate Customers to Modern Productivity Platforms

As support for Office 2013 comes to an end, MSPs have an opportunity to migrate their customers’ data to a newer platform.

The clock is ticking for companies relying on Office 2013. Microsoft recently announced that support for this productivity suite will end on April 11, 2023, meaning managed service providers have an opportunity to transition existing and new customers to a more advanced productivity suite.

Whether it be a one-purchase solution like Office 2019, subscription-based like Microsoft 365, or even a completely different platform like Google Workspace, transitioning to more modern platforms is a worthwhile investment for companies.

Here are some tips for taking advantage of this change and ensuring a smooth and successful migration for your MSP customers.

The Case for Switching from Office 2013 to More Modern Platforms

Transitioning to a modern productivity suite offers your SMB customers an opportunity to improve their technology infrastructure with updated security features and ongoing support if issues or problems arise. Protecting customer data and sensitive information is a must in 2023, and modern platforms provide just that.

Additionally, cloud-based platforms like Google Workspace and Microsoft 365 allow users to access data anywhere there’s an internet connection. This enables real-time collaboration and communication with team members and customers, as well as access to the latest software features and capabilities through regular software updates.

Of course, while the benefits of ending support for Office 2013 are clear, there are some potential challenges with the transition.

The migration process may involve significant time, financial, and operational investments on the part of your customers, including the need for employee training. It could also temporarily disrupt employees’ daily work routines.

That’s why it’s essential to have a well-planned strategy and follow best practices, enabling your customers to transition smoothly and reap the benefits of improved security, productivity, and collaboration.

Best Practices for Planning the Migration to a New Software

Here are four steps to planning a successful migration. 

1. Prepare for the Move 

When moving data from one system to another, MSPs must develop a step-by-step plan that includes timelines, processes, resources, and budgets. You must have a clear understanding of the amount and type of data that needs to move and the target location where the files and data need to be properly placed.

You should also understand the differences between the old and new software, including any potential impact on your customers’ internal systems and business continuity. For example, one aspect often overlooked is licensing models. Migrating from a one-time purchase model, like Office 2013, to a subscription model, like Microsoft 365, can significantly affect accounting and how costs are recorded for specific business units.

You don’t want your customers to be caught off guard by unexpected problems, so make sure to assess their current setup to help with a smooth transition.

2. Get the Right Tools to Help with the Move

You can ensure a seamless move by using a migration tool. These tools offer several advantages, including minimizing disruption to end users. This is critical for maintaining productivity and avoiding financial loss. 

Additionally, a good migration tool will support the amount and type of data you need to move, as well as the timeline for the migration. This will enable a smoother, faster, and more efficient transition process.

3. Test Before You Invest

Another way to ensure success is by allowing your customers’ employees to test the new suite. Piloting new software with employees before the complete migration is a best practice that can help organizations minimize downtime and avoid costly mistakes.

Select a diverse group of employees from various departments, such as marketing, sales, and IT. This can provide valuable insights into potential obstacles and difficulties that may arise during the migration. It also allows employees to get familiar with the new system and its features, making the transition less disruptive and ensuring the adoption of the platform.

Additionally, a pilot program can help companies assess the software’s compatibility with their existing systems and infrastructure, confirming that all the necessary integrations and configurations are in place before the full rollout.

4. Provide Training to Get Employee Buy-in

After the pilot phase, it’s crucial to share the findings and make sure your customer’s entire company is aware of the workflow changes that come with migrating to a new platform. If there is a lack of understanding or buy-in, it can lead to pushback and even reverting to the original productivity suite.

One way to boost adoption is training. If employees utilize the new tool to its full potential, it improves their performance and contributes to their organization’s success.

By taking the time to enable and educate users on the new platform, companies can minimize the risk of surprises and ensure that the software migration is a success.

A Turning Point

The end of support for Office 2013 is a turning point for organizations. With more modern solutions at their disposal, companies can benefit from enhanced security, regular software updates, and the ability for real-time collaboration and communication through cloud access.

By following these migration steps, MSPs can confidently transition customers to modern platforms without worrying about data loss or migration problems, all of which help them stay ahead of the technology curve.

FRANK SUGLIA is the vice president of technical services at BitTitan, where he works closely with the company’s partners to showcase and drive new and recurring revenues. His areas of expertise include SaaS, digital marketing and performance optimization, enterprise solution delivery, technology sales and delivery methodologies, and user interface design.

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