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Upstate migrates to outlook

Upstate transitions 13,000 users to Outlook for improved email and calendar functions

After 25 years on the same email and calendar system, all 13,000 Upstate users are about to get a major upgrade.

The Information Management and Technology department at Upstate Medical University has spent a year planning and executing a move from Groupwise to Outlook. Upstate has used Groupwise since 1995 and as the software has aged, it’s become harder and harder to support, necessitating a move to a newer platform.

About 300 IMT users were among the first to transition to the new platform in September followed by planned waves of migrations to Outlook during the next two months.

Migrating 13,000 users—all of whom use Groupwise’s email and calendar functions differently and on different devices—is a massive project, said IMT Program Manager Kim Gailor. Gailor, who joined Upstate in October 2019 to manage this project, said this is the largest migration she’s handled to date.

“This has been a significant undertaking,” Gailor said. “But we’ve been putting things in place for months to make sure we’re ready.”

She and a team of about 15 staff have spent months planning the move and were only briefly delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Among its many projects, the team looked at how different groups of people at Upstate used Groupwise to determine who should migrate first and how troubleshooting would work. Upstate students, for instance, use calendars differently than staff and are more apt to use a mobile application for email, she said. Most nurses at Upstate, for example, don’t have a dedicated, individual work computer to access email so IMT worked on making access to Outlook simple and safe on shared technology.

A large component of the project has been communicating the migration plans to all users and setting up support services. Those services include a staffed command center to answer phone calls for anyone needing help with the transition. The command center will be open for the first wave 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. starting Tuesday, Oct. 13 and can be reached by calling 315-464-9878. (Command center hours will differ by wave to accommodate people’s work schedules.)

The migration waves are as follows:

Oct. 13: Academic; about 2,200 users.

Oct. 19: Shared services; about 1,700 users.

Oct. 26: Clinical wave No. 1; about 4,400 users.

** There will be a two-week pause because of the Magnet Survey visit.**

Nov. 16: Clinical wave No. 2; about 4,200 users.

IMT is regularly sending emails notifying users about which wave they are in and how to prepare for the transition and is offering live trainings and demonstration videos. Heavy Groupwise users—those with many calendar items, proxy users or rules—need to take advance steps before transitioning fully to Outlook. Those steps are outlined in documents from IMT and can be found here: www.upstate.edu/imt/intra/office365/index.php

Gailor said it may take users a couple of days to feel fully comfortable with Outlook but eventually she thinks everyone will be satisfied with the new tool.

“I think everyone will be pleased with Outlook,” she said. “Many people have been waiting for this transition for a long time.”