Many LA investment advisory firms are considering migrating to Office 365 these days. This move from local storage and Exchange servers to a hosted solution in the Cloud reduces capital costs while creating an improved ability to collaborate on project documents and share data, which in turn boosts productivity.
Depending on the size of your firm, operating expenses are comparatively lower because you only pay for what you use and can easily scale up or down when necessary.
Migration can be tricky, so advance preparation is key, especially for larger firms. For investment advisors, compliance is always a concern and working with Office 365 is no different. This article contains tips and suggestions for making the transition as smooth as possible.
Proper Planning Prevents Poor Performance
As with all aspects of their technology, when considering the move to Office 365 an investment advisory firm needs to consider and plan for security and compliance. Don’t be fooled by price - an RIA needs to be on either the E3 or E4 plans because these versions of Office 365 leverage what Microsoft calls “Advanced Email” features - including Information Rights Management, email archiving, and legal hold capabilities.
Legal hold means you can prevent email from being destroyed or purged automatically based on retention policies. It also protects messages from being deleted by the user, knowingly or inadvertently.
Get Your Infrastructure Ready
Before the migration begins, the office infrastructure needs to be in top shape. To ensure that all Active Directory items are ready to be moved, run a health check first and address any issues. The following will also have to be disabled, archived, or deleted:
- Public Folders
- SharePoint objects
Make a list of what content needs to move and what can safely be left behind. Advance preparation will shorten the overall migration time and reduce of likelihood of a costly error.
Document How Email Works
An investment firm’s email is more than a collection of email addresses and storage: it also involves a number of workflows. Before the migration begins, verify and document how email enters the network and how it is processed in Exchange. Other required information includes:
- How the firm’s employees connect to the mail server to retrieve their messages
- A list of email servers and the network components
- Any devices or applications that relay e-mails using MAPI or SMTP
- SSL certificates as well as all settings for encryption and archiving
- External DNS MX and A records
Put the Migration Toolkit Together
There are tools available to make the migration to Office 365 easier. OnRamp conducts pre-migration assessments on Active Directory while Lync Online Transport Reliability IP Probe will test the connection to Office 365 and advise if the company broadband connection needs to be upgraded. The Microsoft Remote Connectivity Analyzer can test external access to Office 365, diagnosing and troubleshooting any single sign-on issues. BitTitan’s MigrationWiz helps with the process of transferring mailboxes from your on-premise Exchange server to Office 365.
Although it may seem complex on the surface, moving a firm to the Office 365 Cloud is no more complicated or challenging than any system upgrade. Given the power and scope of Office 365, it could possibly be the last such move the company may ever have to make.
Has your investment advisory firm made the switch to Office 365 yet? If so, have you noticed a lot of improvements over the previous system? Let us know your thoughts in the Comments box below.
And to follow-through on the tips introduced in this short article, be sure to download your free guide, Investing in High Net Worth Clients: The LA Investment Advisor's Guide to Using Technology to Manage and Grow Your Firm.