Microsoft\u2019s Office 365 \u2013 the cloud-based version of Microsoft\u2019s flagship productivity software solution \u2013 is growing by leaps and bounds. The enterprise adoption rate of Office 365 has nearly tripled since 2014 and some estimate the offering is now the most widely used business cloud application available \u2013 even more than Salesforce.com.\nWith adoption rates reaching new highs, enterprises are more motivated than ever to join their peers in the Microsoft Office cloud. But migration to Office 365 is rarely a simple process and it\u2019s easy for costs to spiral upward.\nHere are seven questions to ask to keep Office 365 migration costs in check, and optimize usage rights and flexibility:\nWhat feature\/functionality differences can be expected and how will they impact your enterprise\u2019s user experience? Office 365 isn\u2019t a single product, it\u2019s a brand \u2013 which means you don\u2019t automatically have access to every service included under the brand. If you\u2019re considering a migration, you need to understand which features and services each SKU includes. Depending on the SKU, you may be losing some of the features and functionality of your on-premise Office investment.\nWhat resources will be required for migration and what\u2019s the scope? Don\u2019t underestimate the complexity of moving to Office 365. Once the migration begins, the sales and licensing specialists that held your hand during the sourcing process won\u2019t be so involved. Finding the right partner(s) to move you to the cloud requires just as much attention as the sourcing event (there are advisors out there to help with selection, if needed). Furthermore, the scoping of work needs to be precise. How many users will be migrated at once? Will certain users require access during migration? Will this require separate tenant provisioning? Be specific \u2013 identify the legacy data stores, application workflows, etc. that need to migrated and make sure the provider has the necessary tools to minimize roadblocks. \u00a0\nWhat will be done with your existing messages and archives? Keep in mind that most on-premise legacy archives will not work with Office 365. \u00a0In many instances, you may be forced to export the legacy message data into personal folder files (also known as PSTs) and then import those into Office 365. \u00a0Ensure that your migration plan includes time and resources for any needed migrations.\nHow can you make Microsoft\u2019s SLA more favorable? The SLA for Office 365 isn\u2019t particularly negotiable, but there are still opportunities to make it more favorable (or at least to leverage your concerns to win concessions in other areas). How does Microsoft calculate 99.998 percent uptime? Is that acceptable? Are the penalties for SLA non-compliance material enough to cover the implications of service failure on your business? Microsoft also offers partner-hosted private cloud capabilities for large enterprises with particular contractual, data and network requirements.\nWill your Office 365 agreement provide price protection for future purchases? Microsoft\u2019s pricing and sales strategy for the cloud is still evolving, but the days of \u201cfreeware\u201d are disappearing as adoption rates climb. Are price increases on the horizon? It\u2019s a possibility. Enterprises need to leverage their future Office 365 commitments to secure contractual language that will protect them against price increases as well as allow them to take advantage of price cuts throughout the term of their contract and at renewal time.\nWill you need on-premise use as well as cloud use? If so, what Microsoft SKU mix will help you best achieve this? Despite Microsoft\u2019s eagerness to push enterprises to a cloud-heavy Microsoft estate the reality is many businesses, driven by information security, accounting, usage or other requirements, will prefer to keep a mixture of on-premise and cloud licenses. Deciding which mix of offerings will help you achieve the right balance is difficult. Companies need to understand the myriad options available to them, as well as whether they will able to vacate the cloud service and move back on-premise should their balance preference (or IT\/business needs) change.\u00a0\nWhat transition assistance will be provided should you decide to move back to Microsoft\u2019s on-premise solution or to another provider? At some point, you may want to go back to Microsoft\u2019s on-premise solution \u2013 or switch vendors altogether. Migrating this data fully intact is a substantial undertaking. Historically, Microsoft hasn\u2019t provided robust transition assistance, which means companies need to negotiate services or funding up front to lessen their burden down the road. Be sure to clearly specify your data transition needs in your agreement as well as Microsoft\u2019s service and fiscal responsibilities.\nThe decision to move to Office 365 isn\u2019t a minor one. The advantages are numerous, but so are the risks. This problem is compounded by the perceived non-negotiable nature of cloud contracting. Microsoft\u2019s sales and licensing specialists aren\u2019t motivated to ease this burden, so customers must be vigilant. This extra due diligence up front will translate into lower cost and risk over the term of your Office 365 investment The \u2013 not to mention a more positive migration experience.