As the University of Wisconsin continues the email and calendar transition to Office 365, some reports show the transition may not go as smoothly as administrators hope.
The WiscMail system hinges on the verge of a technical overhaul, Brian Rust, senior administrative program specialist of the Department of Information Technology, said.
The email transition from WiscMail to Office 365 is slotted to finish no later than August 2014, according to the business case released by Administrative Excellence in June 2012.
“Actual migrations have yet to start,” Rust said in an email to The Badger Herald. “Development and preparations for the transition have taken a bit longer than expected. But we are a unique case or campus in that we are moving 80,000+ accounts from several different mail and calendar systems to one. Other campuses have moved from one to one.”
According to Alice Gustafson, director of the Administrative Process Redesign team, the process is slow due to the large number of email and scheduling platforms being used by different departments and units.
UW used reports by technology advisory firm Gartner in the decision-making process. These reports obtained by The Badger Herald recommended clients first move to an intermediate email system before migrating to Office 365 to ease the difficulty of transitioning. However, according to the Administrative Excellence website, UW is not planning on implementing this recommendation.
Another report from Gartner said email transitions to Office 365 are difficult and migrating to the new cloud e-mail service only compounds the difficulty.
“Some of the organizations we spoke with had such a challenging time migrating to a component of Office 365 that the credibility of the IT department was impacted,” the report said.
An additional recommendation by Gartner was the implementation of a flexible schedule and a budget that could accommodate the extra time and resources needed for the transition. The report added that transferring email systems to Office 365 from non-Microsoft systems can be “long, complex and more resource-intensive than expected.”
According to the business case from Administrative Excellence, once deployed, the email transition will save the university an estimated $6.77 million a year, $6.1 million of which will come from labor hours currently wasted by scheduling meetings across incompatible systems.
The business case also assumes individuals currently spend 30 minutes scheduling a meeting, with individuals scheduling a meeting once every 10 days. After the transition, Gustafason said scheduling a meeting will take only a few minutes.
When asked how projected savings were calculated, she said the estimates were based on surveys.
“The estimates were based on a campus survey, but I would have to contact the individuals who performed the projections and modeling associated with the estimates to know for sure,” Gustafson said.
Faculty and staff email platforms will be transitioned first, she said.
Rust added the first adopters will serve as the final test of the new system. After the faculty and staff transfer, he said the transition for students will begin.