Top 3 Steps to Transition Successfully to Microsoft 365 E5: Part I

Seth Ryan
November 16, 2022
November 16, 2022
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Top 3 Steps to Transition Successfully to Microsoft 365 E5: Part I

In this series, we’ll discuss how to best prepare for a Microsoft 365 E5 implementation.

There’s a new suite of security and productivity apps in town, and it goes by the name of M365 E5. Microsoft 365’s latest package combines best-in-class productivity apps with advanced security, compliance, voice and analytical capabilities. If it’s not on your radar already, it probably should be: E5 allows you to extend identity and threat protection, ensure advanced compliance, add cloud-based audio conferencing and calling capabilities, and gain more business value from data.

It’s also the most complete platform on the market, spanning 11 separate apps, six add-on services and dozens of components. Before diving into implementation, it’s critical to consider which features and functionalities best suit your business needs, create a strategic plan for deployment and adequately prepare your organization for the transition.

Big changes—and even bigger security benefits

Transitioning to E5 means a lot of foundational changes for your business: moving to the cloud, adding new productivity apps, and perhaps most importantly, adopting a more extensive set of cybersecurity tools and capabilities toward an enhanced security posture. If you haven’t already implemented things like insider risk management, identity and access management, zero-trust verification, and more, now is the time. Case in point: according to Statista, there were 236.1 million ransomware attacks worldwide in the first half of 2022 alone…many of which could have been avoided with better security controls!

What’s new in the E5 package? A lot:

Azure Active Directory Premium 1&2

Microsoft Defender for Office 365

Azure Information Protection Plan 2

Information protection and governance

Insider risk management

Audio conferencing

Power Bi Pro

Microsoft Defender for Endpoint

Microsoft Defender for Identity

Microsoft Defender for Cloud Apps

Advanced eDiscovery and advanced audit

Built-in third-party connectors

Phone system

Reclaim the lost art of strategy

Given the extensive nature of the E5 suite, most enterprises will partner with an outside team to plan and execute a transition to the platform. While a partner can help you with E5 implementation, many will stick to a tactical approach. In other words, you pick the components, and they implement them without thinking about employee experience or their own ability to manage the new capabilities.

Beyond technical assistance, there are several strategic considerations that can make or break a successful deployment. The right partner, for example, can help you plan the overall implementation across all the components, and/or introduce change management to prep your organization for those same components.

Adopting platforms like E5 represents a significant investment of time and resources for your company, so it is critical that you ensure a high ROI. In a study conducted by Fidelity Investments, 64% of respondents reported seeing no revenue growth at all on their digital investments. What’s the strategy to ensure that the business case you use to make the investment in E5 plays out as planned?

We take a “start anywhere, finish everything” approach to technology implementations. What that means in practical terms is that we take the time to understand your current processes and capabilities, then determine which components will best fill technical gaps and serve your business goals. Our holistic approach ensures that your organization is prepared to adopt new technologies so that you can reap their benefits.

Step one: What do you already have—and what do you really need?

Whoever you work with, make sure that you’re thinking strategically before initiating deployment. That starts with auditing your current tech stack to avoid costly redundancies. Implementing a new capability is also a great opportunity to identify and fix any pre-existing issues.

Inventory and assessment work are the foundation for any modernization activity. Since the E5 Plan has dozens of components, you likely have some of these capabilities already. Before making any other moves, you need to take stock of what you currently have and where capabilities would overlap.

Also, be sure to pay attention to the contract end dates of your current technology stack. You don’t want to end up paying an unnecessary renewal fee if you replace something with E5.

Consider the following:

How will different components solve specific problems within your current cybersecurity controls?

Which will make the biggest impact on your security posture?

What is the long-term value of the solution you choose to implement?

Are you striking the right balance on TCO (on software/maintenance), increased operational efficiency, and added protection?

Partner to thrive with E5

M365 E5 represents a big step in any company’s digital transformation, and the choice should be approached with thoughtful consideration and strategic planning. We’ve helped startups all the way up to Fortune 100 companies strategize and execute successful E5 deployments, starting with inventory and assessment. Contact us today to discuss how we can help your organization make the most of E5.

Stay tuned for Part II in our series, where we’ll discuss how to select which components to implement and how to prepare your organization for change.