In an article published recently on, writer Gregg Keizer looks at the debate over how disruptive a Windows 8 migration could be for enterprise – and taps Joe Puckett, Vitalyst’ director of recruiting and training, for his take on ways companies can minimize the pain of an upgrade.

The article included several of Puckett’s tips for companies considering a migration. Those tips, and a few more, are included below.

Windows 8 migration tipsTip 1: Start with a big-picture plan.

If a company chooses to focus on its mobile users for a Windows 8 migration, the endeavor will be much smoother. Smartphone users will learn Metro quickly, so it will be easy to get it across to people.

For desktop migrations, offer training before you begin. This isn’t Windows XP or 7; pre-rollout training is a must if you want to avoid a negative reaction.

Tip 2: Target people based on benefit.

This means finding both people who will benefit from using Windows 8 and people whose inclusion in pilot groups can help you find the path to the smoothest possible migration. Windows 8’s strong suit is providing continuity across standard and mobile devices. The biggest early benefits will be for those who use both types of devices.

Don’t ignore those who only use standard devices. Put them in your pilot group because their feedback is essential to the next tip.

Tip 3: Pre-customize the installation where needed.

If you put Windows 8 on shared PCs for people who only use the PC a few times a week to check their email, put three tiles on the Start screen: one that accesses Outlook (or whatever email program they are familiar with) directly; one that goes to the desktop to make it easy to get to a somewhat familiar interface; and a third tile that is a shortcut to Shutdown.exe (pinning this to the taskbar in desktop would also be helpful).

One size rarely fits more than a small percentage of the population. Tailor your deployment images to the needs and adaptability quotients of the people who will be using them.

Tip 4: Mitigate aversion before forcing immersion.

Unless 10 percent or more of the calls to your help desk are about how to use desktops and desktop applications, you have shadow supporters in your organization. People are turning to them before they turn to your help desk when they have questions about their computers and applications. Whose opinion of Windows 8 do you think they are most likely to reflect?

Find your “local gurus” in the business units and include them in your pilot group. Solicit their help with Tip 3 and take additional steps to make them migration evangelists. Executive admins are another group whose opinions are more influential than others.

Tip 5: Phase training to match learning curves and tolerances.

Training and other exposure to the new interface prior to the actual roll out is a significant part of mitigating aversion. While you may plan more extended up front training for IT personnel, power users and other key user groups, focus pre-deployment training on what the masses will need in their first hour with Windows 8. Provide additional “training” in a mix of formats that builds more advanced understanding and skills over the first month to six weeks. Send emails with a quick tip and a reminder about where to find other resources. If you have a video announcement system, use it.

Effective training of your end-user population is facilitated by providing the information that is specifically needed close as possible to when it is needed. Provide multiple learning channels and let the people decide which works for them.

Tip 6: Receive negative feedback graciously and with understanding.

Any change, no matter how well executed, will result in some people who are unhappy. Listen to their feedback and be responsive. Find a way to get your unhappy users to someone who will be both empathetic and helpful, and get them to where they need to be. It will be a win-win for all.

These tips will go a long way toward easing the migration and improving user adoption of the new release.

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