Migrating to Google Workspace from another system (like Microsoft, Lotus Notes , Zimbra etc.) is always a big project, and it’s a good idea to understand the process properly before jumping into it.
This article will go through the main steps of migrating to Google Workspace, who should be interested in this topic, and how to get through it as smoothly as possible.
When we talk about a “Google Workspace migration,” we basically mean transitioning from any legacy email system (or data system) and office tools to the cloud of Google (Google Workspace).
Actually, now that we’re defining the whole thing, we could say that this transition to Google is made of three big pillars.
Google Workspace is an ecosystem of tools, and everything is integrated on the same platform.
However, every single user at your organization has their own specific needs, ways of working, and responsibilities.
With a migration process, it’s crucial to ensure that the environment is suitable for each person or user type to maximize the benefits of the new suite you’re acquiring.
This has to do with actually migrating email messages, documents, calendars, contacts, and so on to Google Workspace from another service provider.
Typically this is the part most people think about the most when it comes to migrating to a new system; however, it’s only one part in the process.
The first part of this pillar is essentially minimizing the shock the change creates.
New tools can be intimidating, so users should be empowered to try out the new tools. By having everyone be on board from the get-go, you can also make sure no extra time is lost in the transition period.
For this to succeed, the data has to be properly migrated and the environment appropriately set up according to your users’ profiles. Your employees have to find everything they need — like emails, docs, and calendars — in their new system right away.
When the new system functions smoothly, and the data is there, it improves your team’s productivity, smoothens their processes, and makes everyday work a lot easier.
When we talk about a successful migration to Google Workspace, we mean not only moving the data from your old system to the new one but also making sure each user has the work environment they need.
You also need to make sure adapting to the new system is encouraged and valued throughout the organization.
This article is helpful for anyone and everyone considering or trying Google Workspace — whether it’s a free trial or as a proof of concept.
It’s also for people who just migrated or are migrating to Google Workspace and have discovered that they’re facing challenges related to contacts or other migrated data.
Whether you’re migrating from Outlook, Exchange, Office 365, Lotus Notes, Domino, or another system, this is for you.
It’s also useful for everyone responsible for the productivity and happiness of employees or for the deployment of new tools at the organization level.
And then, of course, everyone responsible for the architecture of the data, organization, and integrity of data at your organization.
Let’s look at an example situation.
Your organization has migrated to Google Workspace and is now discovering challenges with their migrated data: you can’t find some of your shared contacts in the new system.
The stakes are already high in this situation because you’ve already gone through the migration process, and the new system is now in place. So, the problem at hand is not a contact problem — it’s now a Google Workspace problem, which is a lot bigger.
You probably initially decided to migrate to be more productive, have a more straightforward and intuitive system, and have everything stored safely in the same cloud. And now it’s not working?
This is a situation you want to avoid altogether, so it’s better to know the whole process inside and out and avoid potential bumps in the road before you hit them.
First, let’s go through some of the most common reasons why organizations decide to move from their legacy system to the Google Workspace ecosystem.
This is probably the most common reason why many organizations decide to move to another system.
You might have all your crucial data scattered in different locations and not centralized.
This gets especially tricky the more contacts, accounts, and apps you have to handle at work.
The great benefit of Google Workspace is that everything is integrated on one single platform with unlimited capacity, so this means that all the limits you may have had on storage space or amount of data you’ve had will be gone, along with the silos.
Another common reason is cost. Either the costs of the old system or not having a cloud system in place at all.
Maintaining on-premise servers costs a lot of money in the long run, and having everything in the cloud is more cost-effective.
When it comes to the security of your data, it makes all the sense in the world to be cautious.
However, it simply makes more sense to put your money in the bank, not under your mattress.
Google Cloud is the most secure in the world. Your data is safe and sound.
Google Workspace is designed for you if your team is struggling with collaboration between team members and teams.
Google tools are simply very collaborative. The Google ecosystem includes the essential tools your team needs every day, and it integrates seamlessly with many other useful tools you may want to add to your arsenal.
And you know it just as well as we do: collaboration helps people work together more efficiently, helps them avoid silos, and allows them to be more productive.
It’s clear that we wouldn’t be writing about this topic if it was so simple and straightforward as we made it sound in the previous chapter.
Often, there may be challenges along the way, and that’s okay — as long as you know how to avoid or solve them. Let’s go through a couple of them to identify what kind of challenges we’ve seen previously with migrations.
People will most likely be intimidated by the idea of getting new tools — especially if they need to be onboarded to use a whole new system.
Everything that is new is scary, and that’s just basic human nature. It’s frustrating to get to know a new system, not understand it fully, not be able to control everything around your own job, and so on.
Onboarding to the new tool takes time, and sometimes people don’t see the value right away.
This can be solved with clear communication, transparency, and leadership. It should be endorsed by the top management of the organization rather than IT only.
Be sure to explain the concrete benefits to your organization even before the migration process.
Sometimes migrations just don’t go as planned.
Something may go wrong at some point in the process, and the technical issues may have a large impact on your business activities.
However, the good news is that technical issues are typically relatively easy to solve with the right partner, experienced in migration services, who knows what they’re doing and can help.
Be prepared to run into technical issues along the way, and know who to contact if you need additional assistance.
Even when everyone has gotten the hang of the new system, it might still not be enough.
The problem is often simply the fact that the new tools are not equipped to function in exactly the same way as the legacy system.
Users won’t find their work environment in their Google Workspace account the same as it was before, and data may be scattered.
This can be difficult and cause a lot of frustration, especially if you need to come up with new ways of working and new processes for all the things that have worked seamlessly before.
Some migrations are disastrous because of this, especially if users are unaware of how this can be solved.
Go through the new processes and systems with a focus group already before you start the migration, and be sure to offer support to your team members throughout the process and after it, too.
Before you start planning a migration project, make sure you have these covered.
Make sure everyone in your organization knows why the change is being made and what will come of it
Ensure that the communication with your people is seamless at all the process stages to implant the seed that something is happening. Communication is key, and people love to know what’s happening.
All too often, the IT department will just do something and tell everyone at the last minute without “selling” the solution to them.
Make an official announcement by top management, and show that there is momentum in taking this change.
Show how it is in line with your organization’s long term vision. Focus on the cool things that will be possible once the change happens, and how it will positively impact everyone’s work life.
On the company level, how are you using your current tools?
Understand that the main objective of the migration is not to recreate the exact same system you already have in the cloud.
It’s more about thinking work differently in order to help your team reach their goals more efficiently and be more productive.
Then, on an individual level: How are your people using their email, documents, contacts, and so on?
On what devices? How do they access them? How do they use contacts? Docs, email? Where do their contacts come from?
How does someone become a contact? Are you just reading their business card and adding them to your phone contacts?Do you scan them?
Are you using a specific interface on your computer to create contacts manually? Do your people create contacts out of people who email them? Or do they save an incoming number in their phone, transforming it into a contact?
Imagine there is no limit or restrictions whatsoever. What would the ideal situation be? How would your users like to communicate, collaborate, centralize, or access data?
You need to investigate the environment for these different user profiles within your company. Make sure that people will be able to work better than before with these new tools.
Once done, write the blueprint of your new environment by describing all that should be possible. Once you know what you want to be made possible, it will be easy to define the configurations to be made, add-ons to be added, and data to be migrated or not.
Moving to the cloud can be a small project like simply changing email providers or a comprehensive migration.
You need to be aware of the scope and have realistic expectations and objectives for the project in mind.
Pro tip: Organize a workshop or a meeting with your whole team where you go through each stage of the project transparently, and make sure everything from the scope to the finalization of the project is well documented.
We also recommend you define a minimalistic scope at the beginning. Indeed, you can function with a hybrid system and deploy tools step by step. This will avoid your users to freak out about having to go through too many changes.
In any case, do not attempt to train your users to use all the Google Workspace tools at once. Better provide thematic training or webinars that people can attend when they need it.
Everything won’t be the same with the new system, so be prepared to support your team with the new tools and any challenges that may arise.
But the task of helping users should not lay on only your help desk’s shoulders.
Train Google champions in each team for solving use cases, who will be the referent of the solution on the floor.
However, make sure to consult external partners if you need help with your new tools.
Finally, let’s have a look at how we at Shared Contacts for Gmail® can support you with the migration process.
As we saw above, Google Workspace is a customizable platform. So what comes out of the box in a system like Office 365 would need to be added as a plugin in Google for Business.
Google doesn’t support fully integrated contact sharing like some other systems like Office 365.
People can create address books, but can’t freely share them with whoever they want.
This is an issue: After the migration, many users will quickly discover that contacts that were shared in their legacy system are no longer available in a centralized repository.
We make sure that your users find the common contacts wherever they are (emails, documents, mobile etc.), that the owner of the shared address books has full access control, and that all your systems (like your Active Directory) are synchronized and available to all your domain users.
Google doesn’t handle multiple directories very well. If your organization counts several domains, there’s a challenge of having all your users access the contact information of their colleagues belonging to other domains in the organization.
This is a challenge Shared Contacts for Gmail® helps you solve by unifying all your users in a single directory, accessible by anyone from everywhere.
In Google, there is no synchronization between LDAP (your company directory) and mobile devices or third-party apps.
We’re making sure you can access them everywhere — mobile, email, WhatsApp, Zoom, and hundreds of other apps. You can find your contacts, edit them, and access them, anywhere. Even offline, which is not possible through Google Cloud itself.
Besides directories, every user can create their own shared address book, and share it with whoever they want on their team, by giving them specific access permissions.
Your Shared contacts are synchronized in real time. The autocomplete system of Gmail, Google Drive, Calendar, Zoom, your CRM, and so on will show them immediately.
Whenever you deal with an email address anywhere in your environment, you can see all the information related to this contact on the right of your screen and add more details to it with one click.
Thanks to Shared Contacts for Gmail®, the IP phones of your users are automatically populated with the shared contacts even if they never interacted with them.
All the contacts in the company are accessible in real time, everywhere, on all devices, on all platforms.
The migration creates a lot of rubbish data that will be scattered.
Shared Contacts for Gmail® helps you clean the data and makes sure that all information is stored safely and according to GDPR and other data privacy regulations.
Your data is stored safely in a centralized location and can be deleted if needed.
And there’s an unlimited contacts backup — Google offers only 30 days of backup — to ensure that any mistakenly deleted contact can be restored any time if needed.
Shared Contacts for Gmail® smoothens your contact management on a higher level.
You can know everything about a contact, share it with your colleagues, add comments and tag your colleagues, assign a contact, and so on, all from one place.
You can view your contacts per organization, department, and so on, making them easier to navigate than the Google Contacts Interface, which is relatively limited.
And what’s more, you’ll always have a 360 view of all your contacts — along with the rest of your team, wherever you are.
Migrating to Google Workspace from another system is something you should be prepared for before you even start.
Your team and employees are at the forefront of this change, so you should make sure you’re encouraging them to adapt to the new system and offer them support throughout the process.
It’s likely some challenges will occur — that is just life — but when you’re properly prepared to deal with them, your migration process can be smooth and seamless.