Microsoft Office 365 offers a substantially different — and far superior — way of optimizing knowledge worker productivity.

But because accessing productivity software from the cloud is so different from running it locally, many IT decision-makers approach the move to Office 365 as a major enterprise technology migration. As a result, they often defer implementation until they believe they have the wherewithal to switch all users over in one fell swoop.

For most companies, though, that’s exactly the wrong way to think about Office 365. In fact, businesses tend to be better off moving to Office 365 incrementally, focusing on the best candidates for migration first, then gradually moving over other users as appropriate.

Step 1: Migrate those Using Cloud Apps

Let’s be clear: Just about every organization can benefit from Office 365. The platform boosts worker productivity and organizational agility because it empowers people to work wherever and whenever they choose.

However, that doesn’t mean everyone needs to migrate to Office 365 overnight. Instead, we’ve found that the best candidates for the first wave of adoption are those who are already using cloud apps.

These early cloud adopters can often be found in sales and marketing departments — the former because their extreme mobility has typically led them to embrace cloud-based tools quickly, and the latter because their need to collaborate intensely with peers inside and outside the business also tends to drive them to the cloud.

Getting these cloud-savvy users to adopt Office 365 doesn’t take much work. On the contrary, they’re invariably happy to be given a tool that jibes so well with their evolving work styles. It’s a win-win-win: They get to be more productive – the business benefits and IT is a hero for delivering the goods.  Emphasizing the fact that people want easy-to-use tools that are tailored around how they work!

Step 2: Migrate Project Management Collaborators

Once the early adopters are on board, it’s that much easier to migrate a second wave of users. Sometimes these are product management teams that collaborate about as intensely as their marketing peers do. Sometimes they’re procurement or supply chain teams that need to share a lot of information with suppliers and partners.

Whoever these second-wave users are, this phase of Office 365 adoption will be facilitated by the success and support of their first-wave peers. And once they’re fully on board, IT can focus on the next set of migration candidates.

An incremental approach proves to be far easier on IT staff.  It aligns much better with the real needs of the business. And it avoids the user dissatisfaction that arises when IT tries to impose solutions on people, rather than following their lead.

So, please, don’t add more stress to your organization’s move to Office 365 than you have to. Take it one step at a time. You’ll achieve better results and spare yourself a lot of unnecessary hassle.