As the U.S. arm of a global design-build firm, Kajima USA has more than 1,000 employees working on vital projects in 20 cities, nationwide. The company had previously installed SharePoint 2007 and then upgraded to SharePoint 2010, using it primarily for its portal and file library functionality, and had moved to Microsoft Exchange in Office 365 to gain a more stable email platform. When Kajima decided to upgrade to SharePoint 2013 and the full Office 365 suite, the company recognized its need for specialized expertise.

The firm chose Abel Solutions to manage the Office 365 migration, implementation and testing, including custom tweaks to the user interface and expansion from one site collection to six. Today, Kajima’s employees are more productive than ever.

“Abel Solutions did an excellent job,” says Kajima Vice President of Information Technology Mukesh Sanghani. “What really stands out is how flexible they were in meeting our needs. Whatever I would ask for, they were able to do in a reasonable amount of time.”

Challenge

When Kajima decided to migrate from premise-based Microsoft SharePoint to Office 365 running in SharePoint 2013, the company’s tech team was concerned that changes in the new version of SharePoint might cause problems with the data migration. They also wanted to ensure that users would feel comfortable with the new platform, especially in light of interface improvements that would make the user interface (UI) unfamiliar.

The company needed a seasoned SharePoint consultant that could both manage and test the Office 365 migration, heading off problems and making customizations as needed. Based on a recommendation from a peer, Sanghani contacted, and ultimately contracted with, Abel Solutions.

Solution

Abel Solutions’ performed initial discovery and work assessments before formalizing its migration plan. The team recommended tweaking the UI to more closely match the previous version of SharePoint. One of Kajima’s specific concerns was that in the prior version of SharePoint, users could easily distinguish between the navigation (NAV) section and the content section of the site.

“The new look and feel did not do a good job of distinguishing these things,” says Sanghani. “Abel Solutions helped us develop site master pages and a theme–with a custom color scheme and fonts–so our users could easily distinguish the NAV links from the actual content. When it was released to the users, they were very impressed.”

For the migration from the hosted environment to Office 365 Abel chose the Metalogix Content Matrix, an automation tool that reduces migration complexity and cost. Metalogix offers granular content inspection, analysis and reporting, making it easier for Kajima to identify the content it wanted to transfer and for Abel to map and migrate it accurately.

Rather than opt for a “big bang” migration, Abel Solutions migrated one of Kajima’s user portals each week, testing it and making tweaks to the process as needed, to ensure minimal disruption to the company.

“The first migration of the Microsoft email [with a previous provider] was a lot more involved than this,” Sanghani says. Both projects were successful, but this one went much smoother than the first one. Overall, we didn’t have any hitches [with the Abel Solutions project] at all.”

Results

Moving from a hosted solution to cloud-based SharePoint 2013 and Office 365 in its entirety (and paying for Office via a monthly, per-seat-fee) has reduced server maintenance costs and eliminated program licensure and version upgrade hassles for Kajima. However, more important for user productivity, Sanghani reports that employees and management are happy with the solution and that they have gained system stability and peace of mind in the process.

“One of the first things users reported was the site flows really well and feels like a professional site,” says Sanghani.” They find the site performance much better, and we can now access the SharePoint site from anywhere without being connected to a VPN.”

During the planning, migration and testing process, Abel Solutions had identified potential issues, and Sanghani says they did an excellent job of addressing them successfully. “Once Abel Solutions completed the test migration, we realized the need for post-migration work,” says Sanghani. “To make that easier, we decided to increase the site collection count from one into six. Abel Solutions devised a method for migrating only the data specific to designated departments into their new, separate site collection.”

Now that the first phase is done, Kajima is working with Abel Solutions to explore “Phase Two,” evaluating the new features of Office 365 that could help the company give workers more productivity tools, build and support an extranet and take advantage of other options. “I can get this work done by anybody–any of our consulting companies,” says Sanghani. “But Abel stands out in its technical expertise, project management capabilities and flexibility. This project worked out really well.”