Transition to Microsoft Outlook Print
Written by Cassie McDaniel   
Thursday, 14 August 2008

Changing e-mail systems in any organization can be a daunting challenge. Recently, the Church switched worldwide from Novell GroupWise to Microsoft Outlook. One hundred twenty-five servers throughout the world were consolidated to just four dedicated servers in the Provo data center. The enormity of the migration is reflected in the following statistics about the rollover:

• Data Migrated: 1.4 terabytes
• Items Moved: 20 million +
• Mailboxes Moved: 15,000
• Users Moved: 10,130

In addition to the technical challenges presented by the transition, a large amount of training and preparation work was done in order to make the transition as smooth as possible.

Earlier this year, the Church upgraded from Microsoft Office 2003 to Microsoft Office 2007. To assist in the upgrade, Microsoft provided an assistive tool that illustrated how to perform an action in Office 2008 when it was performed in Office 2003. A similar tool, called the GroupWise to Outlook Interactive Guide, was created by the Church for the GroupWise-to-Microsoft transition. This tool displayed a GroupWise interface that could then display an action’s equivalent in Microsoft Outlook.

In a typical transition to Outlook, the predicted increase in calls to the support group of an organization is four times the regular volume of calls. The following things were done to minimize the impact on the help desk:

  • Training tips and presentations were provided at Church headquarters and online prior to the transition.The support staff at the Church began using Microsoft Outlook two months before the rest of the organization changed over—in order to become very familiar with the product.
  • All of the General Authorities were moved in a beta group a day before the rest of the organization.
  • Additional support teams were created from non-support employees. Product champions were given advanced training beforehand, and they then provided support within their own departments. Roaming the floors and halls of Church campus, a small army of 60 technical support volunteers offered assistance and distributed a disc with support documentation and common issues and resolutions.
  • An internal Microsoft Outlook support forum was created. It was staffed 24/7. In most cases, questions were answered within 30 minutes. An additional site was created exclusively for the support staff and volunteers to find more in-depth information.

Remote locations had more difficulties making a smooth transition. Slower connections and shifting business processes presented challenges that took more time to overcome than expected.

Most of the feedback has been positive. Instead of the estimated 4,000 additional calls, the help desk received only 2,200. The transition from Novell GroupWise to Microsoft Outlook has been considered very successful.