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Office 365 migrations hardly turnkey

Companies with large estates in legacy systems like SharePoint will never say that Office 365 migration is easy.

Microsoft may tout Office 365 migration as a fast, easy way to bring team collaboration to the cloud, but the reality...

for most companies is that it takes time.

"This is a journey, right?" said Charley Barth, global director for enterprise content management at Cummins. "It took our company 97 years to get here, so we're not all going to be on Office 365 in the next 12 months." Enterprise content management, or ECM, migrations involve planning, stakeholders, and ongoing management -- they are far from turnkey.

Cummins, based in Columbus, Ind., manufactures diesel engines for automotive companies such as Dodge and power generators for consumers and businesses. Microsoft uses its generators for backup power to its data centers, for example.

Charley BarthCharley Barth

But Cummins knows the price of an Office 365 migration failure. Many companies have fallen prey to technology migrations that take years and thousands of dollars and lots of staff -- only to languish or be rolled back when a better technology path comes along. Barth wants to avoid this situation with the company's SharePoint migration (on-premises) to SharePoint Online and Office 365. Barth talked about the nature of the company's migration to SharePoint Online in a discussion prior to the AIIM 2016 conference, and SearchContentManagement shares some of his thoughts below.

Tell me about Cummins' business.

Charley Barth: We're number 154 in the Fortune 500. We have over $19 billion in revenue and over 55,000 employees around the globe.

First of all, what does ECM mean to Cummins?

Barth: To start, we are sunsetting legacy applications and migrating the important content to a single platform. We're tackling mostly administrative documents to start. The program is brand new. We've been around 100 years, but this is the first time we have established a formal ECM program. We're taking small steps.

Our solution won't roll out until fourth quarter of this year. We're in the design, planning phase. We have a significant amount of legacy apps to maintain.

Are you performing an Office 365 migration and moving to SharePoint Online?

Barth: Yes. Cummins has made the decision to eliminate some legacy applications and centralize our collaboration on the Office 365, SharePoint Online platform. Our ECM governance will start with SharePoint, then legacy systems and then new platforms as they come online.

Will you utilize SharePoint on-premises?

There is still nervousness about putting all things cloud -- especially when it comes to our crown-jewel documents.
Charley Barth, global director for ECM, Cummins

Barth: There is still a nervousness about putting all things in the cloud -- especially when it comes to our crown-jewel documents. We have a hybrid architecture for two reasons: One, because some will feel more comfortable if critical content is housed and managed on premises, and, two, for those wanting to do customization of the SharePoint platform and hard-core workflow. Those reasons justify the use of the on-premises environment.

That said, it's going to be an 80-20 split, where 80% will go to the cloud, 20% on premises. As confidence levels grow in cloud offerings and security levels improve, I can see us moving to a completely cloud-based solution in the future.

I hear that from customers frequently -- it's not so easy to move.

Barth: Exactly. We have a few projects in the pipeline -- large migration efforts with IBM connections, ECM Documentum, Lotus Notes; those are some major platforms that will sunset and the content will migrate to [SharePoint].

What kinds of crown jewels are you worried about protecting -- designs of your products, for example?

Barth: We have a massive engineering component within our company. We pride ourselves on being first to market. So, those crown-jewel engineering documents must be secure.

How do you categorize content in the migration to SharePoint Online?

Barth: We're using a tiered approach to simplify how we think about tools and applications that create and manage content: tier one is for individual workspaces (drafts, working papers, etc.); tier two is for team collaboration environments (work that is group oriented and shared); [and] tier three is for records and long-term archival. We are building the Cummins Digital Records Center to serve the tier three space.

How will some of the overlaps in Office 365 services -- with, say, Yammer, OneDrive -- SharePoint --work?

Barth: This is still to be determined -- we're currently having those discussions. We're farther along with OneDrive. We really envision OneDrive replacing local drives (M drive, personal drive) and serving in that tier-one space.

Delve and Yammer [are] a bit more complicated. More Millennials are coming on board who are very comfortable with those tools and demanding them. That is how they interact; that is how they are productive versus, say, traditional email. We have a growing presence of Millennials who can be productive with that social aspect. We see growing satisfaction with tools like IM and chat. Millennials very much prefer that medium. Business decisions are made in that medium, and we need to be prepared to support them if that is the platform of choice.

How all that is going to wrap around our intranet, Cummins Connect, is what we are discussing right now.

Many companies make the mistake of rolling out the tool and letting people have at it, and we don't want to make that mistake.
Charley Barthglobal director for ECM, Cummins

What's your change management strategy for Office 365 migration?

Barth: Change is usually slow. We have a really robust corporate communications team [and] training team. We have been rolling out Office 365 in phases: We started with Outlook, then Skype, now we're looking at SharePoint and all the other tools.

We have an ambassador program: 300 to 400 people who can help be boots on the ground to assist with training and troubleshooting. With each new phase, our communication gets stronger, timelier and training has better user acceptance. That's a key component to this. Many companies make the mistake of rolling out the tool and letting people have at it, and we don't want to make that mistake.

You're still investigating, but what about Yammer-Skype overlaps? Do you need both?

Barth: As we unwrap the Office 365 present, we have seen overlapping functionality, and it makes us question what we should turn on, what we should turn off. We make those decisions as we go through each phase, because we see duplicate features that could end up confusing people.

As we upgrade Cummins Connect, with SharePoint on the back end, we will decide whether we integrate Yammer with our intranet or whether SharePoint will be sufficient.

Our hope is that Microsoft is going to show more clarity and delineation with its offerings. Right now it's a toolbox with random tools and [Microsoft] has some work to do to get that toolbox a little more organized.

What about Office 365 Groups? I hear companies are concerned about permission configuration.

Barth: If we're not careful on the back end (how we set it up and configure), we have savvy employees that will discover these tools long before we're ready to govern them. We didn't want that to happen with Office 365 Groups, so we made a decision to disable that feature.

We have governance in place for that reason. Instead of just saying, 'SharePoint's out there, go have at it,' we wanted to put some rigor and business logic behind the tool. Everyone has to go through a formal provisioning process to request their SharePoint site collection. We ask questions that will draw them to the appropriate training and allows us to build a better site collection experience for them. Another benefit of the provisioning process will be to cut down or eliminate duplicative sites. It's not just about the tools; if you don't have the appropriate governance, roadmap, training and change management in place, that tool will fail miserably.

Who is on the stakeholder team?

Barth: Cummins has a leadership team, about 20 of our most senior executives that are a sounding board for major decisions with these IT projects. The CIO is very much engaged, as is our chief information security officer [and] the legal department. Corporate/digital communications and ECM are the major business owners with IT infrastructure heavily involved. Major business units are looking forward to the platform. They have been waiting a long time for a tool like this.

You spent 20 years in government. How does the private sector differ?

Barth: It amazes me how much more efficient the private sector is, how much quicker things can get done. That said, the private sector has potholes you have to navigate as well. I could see this effort taking three to five years in the federal government, but we'll have [it] up and running within two years. It's a completely different environment.

The government is status driven, whereas the private sector is more about collaboration and efficiency.

Next Steps

Migrating to SharePoint Online, Office 365 not a monolith

Tips on Office 365

Guide on Office 365

Dig Deeper on Collaboration platforms

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What are your plans for Office 365 migration?
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None. Most users still happy with Office 2010 and unless there is a pressing need, they want to stay put with what they know. The other factor is cost.
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