Please help me estimate the time to move a business from in-house Exchange to Office 365

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Setting up our first 'real' client on office 365 (others have been SOHO accounts - either new domains / starting from scratch or existing IMAP accounts.  but never more than 2 - 3 mailboxes).

Here we have 12 users on an SBS 2011 standard domain with the exchange running on the SBS 2010

They would like a proposal for moving to office 365.

Would anyone care to share their thinking on the things involved and the time involved below? Or does Microsoft offer info on this?

I would envision figuring the time is  a bit of a formula?  

Some fixed hours for setting up the office 365 tenant, changing the MX, SPF records, disabling exchange on the sbs box, and ____?  This would be the base work you'd do for setting up a domain that has 1 user or 100 users.... call that AccountSetupHours

Then there's time per mailbox to setup that specific user account on office 365, touch each desktop and each user's phone to change where outlook is pointing to (is there an easier way than just hitting each desk and each phone?  I am using Synnex as CSP for office 365 and they say for that small a number of users, there's a migrationwiz product but doesn't make sense to use that product).   Call that time PerUserSetupHours.  Figure this does NOT include migration of old data)

And they most likely would want it, but to keep it separate, migrating their old data as a separate item -  setup and running migrationwhiz (i never used it before), What else would go under this?  But certainly not include the time to do the migration.  I am looking for labor time estimates.  Call that PerUserMigrationHours

Oh, and for migrating shared mailboxes, contacts, calendar?  MigrationWhiz charges $100 / 10 GB? to move it? Synnex says we can do an export / import to save that cost?  Barring the time to actually do the import / export - we'd step away from the PC for that, I'd call that (perSharedItemsHours)

So AccountSetupHours + (Number of users)*(perUserSetupHours+ perUserMigrationHours) +(NumberOfSharedItems)*(perSharedItemHours) = hours to get a business with (NumberOfUsers) from SBS 2011 inhouse exchange to office365.

Care to offer what you'd use for:


What else am I missing? Setting up distribution lists. Other things come to mind?

Of course, the first time through this,  it likely takes longer than someone that's migrated loads of businesses. Being new to this, I realize that will be the case. I'm not looking for the client to pay for my learning curve and they certainly don't want to either.  I'd like to be able to quote a reasonable timeframe. If I quote my learning curve estimate of 2 - 3x the number of reasonable hours, I won't get the work.
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Server engineer
See you can either use the cutover migration method or hybrid migration method.

Since you only have few mailboxes, then the best is cutover in which you can create a single batch will have all mailboxes and distribution groups, contacts if any. You can mark the unwanted mailboxes like set the hidefromGal attribute for user mailboxes which you don't need to migrate.

But the only difference in cutover and hybrid is that in cutover migration you will have to configure outlook profile and in hybrid you don't need to.

The estimate time is much less.

You can also use migration wiz which is a third party tool and will migrate all data to O365. But you will have to add smtp domain in O365 first, create txt record in public DNS for the domain and verify the domain in O365 after creating the txt record.

You will also have to create users manually in O365 with domain since migration wiz requires users with this domain, you can later change the email address after the migration is done to i.e. your domain. Migration Wiz runs an intial sync first and then after you do a cutover you need to run a final sync.
Note: Initial sync does not move the calendar and contacts for user, it's only syncs during final sync.
Saif ShaikhServer engineer

Migration Wiz runs an intial sync first and then after you do a cutover you need to run a final sync.  Here I was referring cutover as pointed the mx, autodiscover records to O365 in your public DNS.
Thanks for the steps, but care to comment on the amount of technician time involved for the different parts of the work?
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Im looking to go the route using migration wiz.
Saif ShaikhServer engineer

technician time involved is something which cannot be said exactly and also the time involved in completing the mailbox moves. These are something which you can calculate.

I mean when the technician starts the project like adding the domain in O365, adding TXT record in public DNS, verifying the TXT record in O365. he can add the labor i.e. hours. We cannot provide exact time of mailbox move and migration it depends on the availability, server performance.

Migration Wiz is pretty fast.
Any ballparks you’d offer?  How do you quote this type of work?
Saif ShaikhServer engineer

If you see going with migration Wiz I would see what is the charge per mailbox. So what is The license cost in migration wiz. Let's stay 5 💵 to migrate a mailbox.

So I would calculate the same including my labor as 10 dollars per mailbox.

There is nothing with regards to installation of exchange as such since everything will become done using third party tool.
Saif ShaikhServer engineer

Also as a side note, I hope that you are not using IMAP and that too "mdaemon" because "mdaemon" does not sync calendar and contacts with migration wiz. Only emails are migrated to O365.

If you are using imap with Gmail then there are no issues and calendar and contacts will be migrated using migration wiz.
Jose Gabriel Ortega CastroTop Rated Freelancer on MS Technologies
Awarded 2018
Distinguished Expert 2018

SBS 2011 have Exchange 2010, just update the exchange to sp3 and you can do a cutover migration or a hybrid environment.

Use this as a guide:
Jose - I think I know the steps.  Just not what a reasonable amount of time to deal with the different parts would be.  Care to offer edvice on that?
Saif, I'm NOT looking for clock time - the time to transfer the data across the web.

I'm looking for BALLPARK / ROUGH numbers on how long the parts would take / an idea of how to quote this. If I come in too high I don't get it.  If I come in too low, I'll get the work, but losing more than just my learning time.
Saif ShaikhServer engineer


The BALLPARK / ROUGH numbers for this type of project is what we normally charge is between $1500 to $1700..
Thanks but what’s that work out to in hours?
Saif ShaikhServer engineer

This is not an hour comparision and is just a ballpark rough figure. Hour take 6-7 days usually since you have a small environment.
Not sure if I understand.  6-7 days at 8/day focused on just this?  No time in there to do other things?  Roughly 48-56 hours of billable time for 10 users
Saif ShaikhServer engineer

Yes that is correct this was an estimate meaning it is not possible that you will be doing the work in 1 go. There are few hiccups which occur during migration and that is the reason I said 1 week estimate time to complete all activities. 48 hrs. is well fine for migrating 10 users and configuring outlook.
Scott FellDeveloper & EE Moderator
Fellow 2018
Most Valuable Expert 2013

I think 6 to 8 days may be on the high side but possible.  

I would look at 1 to 2 days to familiarize yourself with office365, set things up, and do a practice migration with one test account ( The support you get from Microsoft is very good and it is worth getting on the phone and discuss your details.   The actual migration will probably be a half day where you can work on other things.  Then I would estimate another 1 to 3 days to work out any kinks that arise and help with training.  When you do run into issues, I have found the phone support to be excellent and they will assist by logging in to your desktop and showing you what to do.  

Like anything new, it will take longer the first time and go much faster the 2nd and 3rd times where you could get it done in a day.
Scott - so you are saying 8 - 16 billable hours for 10 users?
Scott FellDeveloper & EE Moderator
Fellow 2018
Most Valuable Expert 2013

I would say that sounds good with a clause, "unless there are unforeseeable issues that take longer than expected and this does not include training".  The actual migration does not take much of your time once you set it in motion.  It's your own time for getting up to speed, preparing and set up and then dealing with bugs afterwords and potentially training if they are going to use any of the office365 features.  There is going to be that one user that for an unknown reason has not fully migrated and another that is using their work computer to manage their personal life and the inbox is full of unsafe mail and their computer has viruses that make it difficult to use to the point you have to reinstall windows 10 and another that knows enough to be dangerous and has changed settings without knowing what they are doing and that blocks a smooth transition.   With a small office, those types of scenarios are possible if nobody is really paying attention to overseeing each user.

I do suggest signing up for the free trial. You will get a temporary domain assigned to you to play with and do a run through with your own outlook/exchange account to get an idea of what to expect. Most set up options can be done using the office365 site. There may be some more advanced items that require powershell.

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