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Managing the Midpoint Crisis on a Microsoft Teams Migration

July 5, 2022

Tim Jalland, Solution Manager, VOSS Solutions

Things start off well

Are you migrating your existing telephony (PBX) system to Microsoft Teams Phone? I am often asked; “Can it be that difficult?” and “What’s the really tricky point on a migration like this?”

Many would say that it is the start that’s most difficult. When you’re trying to formulate a migration plan and get the budget agreed but you don’t really know what you don’t know. And, the key to this is that it is almost impossible to build a credible plan without an understanding of what the existing PBX set-up looks like. VOSS can help with this.

But we are seeing that all too often, it is not the start that is the most challenging. The beginning is nothing like the problems (or crisis!) you’ll face later on in the project as your migration reaches the midpoint. Having been involved in numerous customer migration projects over recent months, I have noticed that organizations find getting the project started takes time and effort. After which, the journey with “map in hand” appears to be comparatively easy. But then it often unravels later on.

Chaotic scenes at the midpoint

During the migration process, you will be managing multiple systems and there will be users working on both, and you will be expected to keep to agreed service levels. You will need skills and tools that enable you to investigate service issues and perform number management for both systems. On and off-boarding of staff needs to happen on either system throughout.

There’s no “magic wand” to migrate instantly – these projects take an extended period of time and we typically see that by the midpoint, when you are also fully committed to the migration with no ability to turn back, that all of this juggling of old and new can quickly degenerate into chaos without the right tools, automation, and information in place.

What to look out for

I thought it would be helpful to share a checklist from recent migration projects that the VOSS team has completed, to help you better prepare and navigate this midpoint crisis. We use a blend of VOSS Migrate and VOSS Automate to manage the migration lifecycle, but you can apply this checklist to whichever tooling you select for your transition.

  1. Single pane – A single portal where administrators can manage users, services, numbering and dial plans, and various policies without the need to upskill (technical skills) or access the various PBX or cloud systems that are running the voice service.
  2. Automation – To make the whole migration and administration process intuitive and straightforward, without the need to understand and maintain detailed PBX commands, PowerShell scripts, or complex loading sheets. Microsoft has a habit of releasing new versions of PowerShell modules with breaking changes – most recently this month.
  3. Number management – A global record of telephone numbers, who they are allocated to, the system they are attached to, and their purpose (descriptive text).
  4. Link to AD/HR – A single point of truth by linking into the corporate AD or HR system, so that users are uniquely identified and services are located and then migrated accordingly.
  5. Licensing – A fine balance between running down licensing on the existing PBX system (as users migrate) and running up licenses on the cloud system (although most users may already be licensed with a Microsoft E5 license). There are cost implications here, obviously, if too many licenses are maintained but also user and project implications if there are too few.
  6. Complexity – It works for smaller migrations, but generally try to avoid large excel-loading workbooks (any data becomes stale and difficult to manage) and PowerShell (which puts the migration project into the hands of a few very skilled Microsoft engineers that are then locked to the project for the duration).
  7. Data management – There’s a lot of data involved on these projects and you’ll need something that can handle, manage, and model this data (i.e. some form of data management or database foundation).
  8. Tracking – Knowing exactly, whether a user is on the existing PBX, is in transit, or has been migrated to the cloud. User experience is paramount and users that have been moved but their telephone number left behind are never happy.
  9. Proactive testing and reporting – Many systems rely on local domain managers with dashboards and alarms, and much of this is reactive – after the problem and the issue has been reported. It’s important on the migration project – and especially so when moving to the cloud – to have an end-to-end view, and being proactive will pay dividends.
  10. Roll back – One thing you can predict is that problems will happen. If you have tooling to manage both systems, and you’re tracking each user migration diligently, then you’re in a good position to roll back groups of users or sites if you encounter an unforeseen issue (which you will).

We are here to help

Check out our latest eBook on migrating to Microsoft Teams.

If you would like to discuss VOSS for Microsoft, your Microsoft Teams environment, or your telephony migration requirements with VOSS, please contact us.

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