So, you’ve completed the migration, but is it all over?

Actually, no.

Firstly, you will have lots of questions from users, especially if you are going to only use the web interface, and drop Outlook completely.

I would, in fact recommend you drop Outlook completely, because it is not the same once disconnected from Exchange, and calendars especially don’t seem to work too well with it.

We only allowed the support team Outlook in the end, because they needed the Outlook functionality in order to work with the CRM properly.

Everybody else had to move to webmail based functionality, which caused major training headaches. My advice would be to meet with any teams affected before the migration, and explain potential pitfalls.

And the pitfalls?

Well, here are the ones I can remember:

1. Google uses tags instead of folders to organise emails. This can make things hard for users, but there is a lab item called ‘Nested Labels’ which can help, and will neaten up your emails.

2. There is no GAL. Although all of your contacts are there, you can’t pick them from an address book a la Outlook. You have to start typing and Gmail will try and find it for you. Once used, it will remember it, but it is quite frustrating at first.

3. Signatures are less flexible than in Outlook. Images are harder to insert, and may preclude the use of the offline mode.

4. Groups are MUCH different. Google groups, whilst being distribution lists, are also discussion groups that archive things sent to them. Be careful what you write. Using Postini also broke our groups and Postini had to supply a huge regex to allow group mail sending.

5. Management time was much higher initially than Exchange, due to users learning a new system, and learning how to use the management interface.

6. We had to configure a simple relay service in house to allow devices such as scanners and alerting systems to send emails via Gmail. Microsft SMTP service was used, and used TLS to connect to Google.

7. Different browsers behaved in different manners and there were lots of support problems for browser related issues.

8. Shared calenders wouldn’t work if Outlook was used.

9. Some users found Labs items to make life better, but this meant support calls for things I knew nothing about.

10. Filters, which work a bit like Outlook rules, can be a bit fiddly to set up.

11. Doing some things requires the use of Labs features.

Overall it wen’t well, and nothing was lost in translation, but I would urge anybody doing this to:

a) Don’t do it on your own, it needs management and techies looking over each others shoulders.

b)Plan Plan Plan

c) Engage one person from each group of affected users to ensure everybody knows what is happening and when, and how it will affect the way they work.

d) Read EVERYTHING Google has on the web about doing it, and check regularly for updated tools.

Good luck!!

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