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In April this year, Catholic Health Partners embarked on an ambitious undertaking: Migrating all 28,000 email accounts from a system that had been in place since 1995 to Microsoft’s cloud-based Outlook and Office 365 — over the course of five weeks.

Although the actual migration was carried out in a little over a month, the decision to upgrade and to move Catholic Health Partners to the cloud involved months of careful planning. The process began when we identified SharePoint as the preferred solution to meet the organization’s intranet and team-based collaboration needs, which prompted us to rethink our whole view of collaboration, and more specifically our Lotus Notes environment. We didn’t want to take this decision lightly. We wanted to make sure we did it right, which meant finding a solution that was nimble, scalable and device-agnostic.

We found the answer in Outlook and Office 365. We looked at Google, Microsoft and IBM, but Microsoft was the only company willing to offer a HIPAA Business Associate Agreement, which ensures compliance with HIPAA privacy and security regulations.

Email is like religion — people don’t convert easily; they are committed to it by faith and by routine. Vitalyst understands this.

With the decision made to move to the cloud, we then needed to find a partner that could help us pull off more than just a migration. In addition to transitioning longtime Notes users to a new email system, we were introducing new instant messaging and conferencing capabilities with Microsoft Lync, moving our end-users from a desktop environment to a cloud solution, and switching our service desk from an outsourced provider to an in-house solution.

We also needed a partner that could work together with Microsoft Consulting Services (MCS), which was handling the technical deployment of Outlook and Office 365. MCS recommended Vitalyst, and it was the logical choice. As a Microsoft Gold Devices and Deployment partner, the company specializes in Microsoft products, and provides expert, round-the-clock support.

Considering the amount of change that was going on at Catholic Health Partners, we were blessed to have Vitalyst and the continuity it provided. Vitalyst was more prepared to flex and scale based on end-user needs, and worked closely with MCS to incorporate support for our users. Without this partnership, we would not have been successful in either endeavor.

The most significant challenges our end-users faced with the migration were working with Outlook configurations and completing everyday tasks like setting calendar permissions and delegation, viewing free time, filing email messages and working with contacts. In Outlook, these basic tasks differ greatly from the equivalent processes in Lotus Notes.

Most vendors oversimplify email and generalize training and support needs as, “It’s just email. It’s intuitive.” But email is like religion — people don’t convert easily; they are committed to it by faith and by routine. Vitalyst understands this. Vitalyst’ Productivity Consultants were there to bring our end-users up to speed. They also went above and beyond by instructing callers how to use time-saving features like Clean Up Conversation and showing multiple time zones on the calendar — which they were unlikely to find on their own. These negated the transition-related time loss and resulted in a net productivity increase.

This migration was a success for our end-users and for the IT department. Our end-users are thrilled with Outlook and its capabilities. As for IT, we gained significant credibility with this migration. With Vitalyst’ assistance, we proved that we can handle the complexity of supporting large-scale initiatives, which ultimately makes it easier for us to implement further improvements and move our organization forward.

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