One of the most ambitious steps in our journey to the cloud is rolling out Office 365 to 118,000 employees. Read about our vision and strategy here. This blog explains the rollout and our change management strategy. Part 2 of this blog explains how we managed the implementation using SAFe.


Rather than using Office 365 as-is, we integrated it with the collaboration capabilities in Webex Teams.

One of our first decisions was how to roll out Office 365. By organization? Geography? Last name? We decided to roll it out by organization to avoid overloading a particular data center or place in the network, and so that we could get executive sponsors to encourage adoption.

We wrote a preliminary email for executive sponsors to send to their teams. The gist: “Team, I need your support. We’ll be rolling out Office 365 over the next XYZ weeks. Here are the benefits, and here are some videos and links for more information.” Every organization communicates in a different way, so we invited the executives to personalize the email.  Next, we sent automated emails 1.5 weeks, 3 days, and 48 hours before migration.

We’re rolling out the new Office 365 cloud-enabled solution in three parts.

Part 1 – Upgrading users’ Office application to a cloud-compatible version

We did this first to prevent problems that could arise from moving mailboxes to the Microsoft cloud, moving users to more modern applications, and aligning with our cloud-based licensing model. And…now that our Office applications are cloud-compatible, our teams will receive the latest upgrades as they become available.

Part 2 – Migrating mailboxes

We’re migrating about 5000 mailboxes a week to Office 365—60,000 as of April 2019 and all 118,000 by July 2019. We didn’t expect users to notice much of a difference, but we got a lot of positive feedback about the Office 365 Focused Inbox and unlimited (“bottomless”) storage. We saw the migration as an opportunity to ensure that the proper users were entitled to use Office 365. We were able to remove entitlement from 20,000 users who don’t use email in their jobs. We refined the onboarding and provisioning process for contractors. Contractors must request approval for Office 365 through our eStore, and Cisco IT uses the eStore to terminate accounts when employees leave so that we can reclaim the license.

Email is down for less than 10 minutes during migration to Office 365. When migration is complete, we send a final email asking users to restart Outlook. In case they’re not receiving emails yet, we also send the message via Webex Teams.

Part 3 – Adding co-authoring and co-editing from Webex Teams spaces

This is what users are truly excited about. From Webex Teams space, our users can open an Office document on OneDrive or SharePoint to co-author and edit and vice versa, while in an Office document, they can click on the Webex Teams Add In to open a side panel and chat from within the document. This integration will improve productivity immensely.

Rather than rolling out co-authoring and editing one organization at a time, as we did for email, we decided to roll it out at the same time to everyone who had their mailbox migrated to the Office 365 cloud. That made a bigger splash, helping to drive adoption and allowing employees to co-author immediately.

Change management

Our goals for change management are to create excitement, educate and inform, and drive adoption. Roll out day for co-authoring and collaborative editing took place in early May 2019. Communications and activities for the campaign included:

  • Introductory video featuring our SVP of Operations and CIO talking up the integration between Webex Teams and Office 365 and how it plays in our grander vision of working digitally.
  • How-to videos.
  • Digital signage and posters.
  • “Excite Days” in Raleigh, San Jose, Bangalore, Krakow, London and Sydney. We’ll set up in the cafeteria and organize scavenger hunts, breakout meetings with experts, Genius Bars, giveaways, and demos.
  • Office hours—15 to 20-minute sessions with Webex Teams and Office 365 experts.
  • Opt-in webinar training (introductory and advanced) on OneDrive and SharePoint.
  • Personalized immersion training (2 hours) for teams with specialized agendas.
  • Intranet articles talking about the value of Webex Teams and Duo Security and integration with Office 365.

Lessons learned

When planning your own migration to Office 365, we suggest:

  • Securing executive sponsorship. If the boss asks team members to do something, they’re more likely to do it.
  • Talking with other companies who have made the move. We learned from another company. That led us to re-think our own timing.
  • We’ve created training materials for using the integration with Webex Teams.

Any implementation questions? How would you use co-authoring from Webex Teams spaces? Please share in the comment box.