Kathleen Molosky, PTS
As your customers plan to move away from XP (hopefully well before April 8th, 2014) there is a lot you can do to help them make this a smooth and productive transition. Based on my experience deploying several versions of the client OS and applications within Microsoft please allow me to share some areas I found require special attention which you in turn can help you customer’s land in a successful manner through migration service offerings.
As your customer’s trusted advisor you can help them see beyond the need to just replace an old operating to how they can make their employees more productive and improve business processes. During conversations with the various key contacts within the business identify pain point they are currently experiencing, listen to their concerns related to the upcoming migration away from XP and get them excited about the new possibilities that come with change.
Key Focus Areas:
This is the most common reasons why customer’s do not stay current. Help your customer early on to categorize and identify critical line of business (LOB) applications in order to build a current inventory. Once all of the applications are known, you can help them decompose worker scenarios to determine what is really needed in an application based on how they are currently doing business. Help them re-image solutions via modern applications to take advantage of touch support offered with new devices they select.
If LOB application testing is a requirement, as a partner you can help them categorize their application into similar functionality, the number of users, etc. to reduce the actual number of applications they must test. You can then help them develop test plans, provide virtual machines for testing and bring in partners that offer modern solutions for applications when they are just too old to bother updating. Microsoft offers some great tools that can be downloaded to help in this area such as the Application Compatibility Toolkit and the AppVerifier Tool.
Remember to tell your customer about the ability to run their applications in compatibility mode for rich client applications as well as web based. If they need to continue to run a non-compatible program for a period of time once they migrate, they can utilize Client Hyper-V or for medium to large usage scenarios MED-V- included with the Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack (MDOP) available to SA customers.
As your customer moves their end users to new devices it is a great time to clean up the data. Don’t just back-up everything and assume if it was needed in the past it will be needed again in the future. Provide guidance to help your customers build a data retention policy to include data classification (high, medium and low business impact). Also, help them determine where employees should store such data. For example - for personal data save to SkyDrive, low and medium business impact data to SkyDrive Pro and perhaps on premise SharePoint or a file share for very sensitive IP. Once the plans are in place, help educate the end users through seminars delivered live and available for on-demand viewing as well. Finally, remember to implement plans for governance to make sure policies are followed as designed. Some available tools to help include Windows Easy Transfer as well as the User State Migration Tool (USMT) for migration of application & user settings as well as the user data.
Communication & Training
This is an area often overlooked but I can guarantee it makes the difference between productive and dissatisfied end users. Know the pain points and communicate well in advance of cutover how the new solutions are going to make their lives easier. Send personal communications before and after and include simple ways to provide feedback as to their satisfaction. The customer can use this information to adjust their process moving forward. Host a central location on SharePoint for all information related to the migration to include FAQs, Tips and Tricks, delivery schedules, training dates and materials, etc.
Set up kiosk to show them the devices they will be getting. Once their devices are delivered hold mandatory training sessions to get them familiar with the products and then follow up with more training on specific applications. Take advantage of the many trainings provided for your use by Microsoft via the Microsoft Partner Site as well as partner with the multitude of established training partners.
Offer on-site support stations in common areas such as the snack room or conference room as the new devices are integrated into the environment. A friendly face goes much farther than a telephone call when it comes to support issues. Finally, provide train-the-trainer sessions for on-site IT Pros that other employees can go to once your time on site has come to an end.
Beyond a Great Beginning
Don’t forget this is a fantastic time to introduce cloud based solutions such as 0365 for their productivity suite as well as Intune in order to manage the devices (including tablets and phones) moving forward. Such conversations should be a part of the migration away from XP. You customers will be happy they made the decision to do it right the first time and feel confident in knowing they can better manage the new environment moving forward.