What Does a Successful OneDrive for Business Project Look Like?

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Microsoft has made the process of enabling OneDrive for Business very easy. The problem then becomes that many customers simply turn it on and expect the best (which would look something like the simplified model below).

However, if you’ve clicked on this link, you’ve likely experienced the horrors of attempting to clean-up a previously ungoverned or uncontrolled content sharing environment. I’ve worked with many organizations across multiple industries to implement OneDrive for Business and the intent of this blog is to talk through some of the areas that should be planned early on to avoid common, long-term pitfalls.

The Well-Thought-Out OneDrive for Business Implementation

A well thought out OneDrive for Business implementation includes each of the items, and potentially more, in the image below.

Let’s take a look at them one at a time.


By default, a user’s OneDrive for Business site is created the first time they attempt to access the site. This may be fine for on-boarding new users or a greenfield environment, but typically existing content will need to be migrated or local hard drive folders re-directed to provide a seamless experience for users. To migrate content, there needs to be a OneDrive for Business site available, so you should plan to utilize a PowerShell script or migration tool to pre-provision OneDrive for Business sites, which are best done in waves/batches.


One of the most powerful features of OneDrive for Business is the ability to synchronize your files across your devices and have them available for offline use. This requires using the OneDrive for Business sync client, which has several things that should be planned, including:

  • Version – there are currently two flavors of the OneDrive for Business sync client, the standard version (OneDrive.exe) and Files On-Demand, which is only available for computers utilizing Fall Creators Update (Windows 10 v1709 or later). For machines upgraded to the proper version, you should consider enabling Files On-Demand, as it provides more options for accessing OneDrive for Business and SharePoint files without the need to synchronize them all to the user’s machine. Lastly, make sure your users do not end up with the legacy sync client (Groove.exe) as it had many issues that have since been resolved.
  • Deployment – the sync client is pre-installed with Windows 10, but will need to be setup through either user download/install or managed deployment for other machines. To streamline the experience for end users and to enable selected controls, we recommend that you utilize a tool like System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM) to deploy the sync client to user machines.
  • First-time sync – the synchronization process needs to be enabled by clicking the “Sync” button either on the browser or through the sync client. Currently, this is a user action (and instructions should be communicated), but the “silent sync” (in preview) feature should eventually be used to remove this step.


A huge benefit of OneDrive for Business over classic file storage devices is the ability to easily share files with internal or external users (guests). But, do you want users to utilize their OneDrive for Business as a dumping ground for files that should be stored in a more acceptable location – like a SharePoint intranet or team site? Not doing so can become a problem when a user leaves the company and important files are deleted. With this in mind, we typically recommend that OneDrive for Business be used for “personal” files and ones that require collaboration with a small group of users. When finalized, the built-in “move to” or “copy to” functions provide an easy way for users to move files to the appropriate location for sharing with a larger audience. To enforce this policy, you may want to setup controls on the OneDrive for Business accounts to block users from sharing with “anyone” or with external guests.

Admin Controls / Governance

By default, OneDrive for Business allows users to share with anyone and access their files from any device and any location.  Organizations need to find the right balance between freedom and control to safeguard company data, while also preventing users from choosing to store/share their files somewhere outside of the organization (“shadow IT”). Below are a few of the controls that should be considered when utilizing OneDrive for Business:

  • Conditional access/sync – should users be able to download, print, and synchronize company files on any device and from any location – including computers at the local library or while sitting in a competitor’s office? Setting up conditional access allows you to prevent certain actions when using a non-corporate owned device or while not connected to the corporate network.
  • Sync with consumer OneDrive for Business – do you want files stored in consumer OneDrive accounts to be synchronized and stored on corporate owned devices? Who knows what people store in their consumer OneDrive accounts – and even if it is harmless, you probably don’t want it taking up storage space on your corporate devices.To prevent this default behavior, you will need to update registry settings on user machines.
  • OneDrive for Business mobile app – should users be able to utilize their personal mobile devices to download, store, and share files from OneDrive for Business? Normally, we recommend using a Mobile Device Management solution like InTune or AirWatch to control mobile usage to only devices enrolled and following corporate guidelines (pin enforcement, remote wipe, etc.).


Unless your organization is brand new, your users likely have personal files stored in file shares, services such as Dropbox, Box, Google Drive, or even their hard drives. If any of these files should be stored in OneDrive for Business, they’ll need to be migrated. In order to ensure your migration is successful, consider the following as part of your planning process:

  • IT or user-driven migration? We have seen both strategies used, but strongly recommend an IT-driven migration to provide the best experience for end users. If end users are responsible for migrating their own content, many of them will either 1) not do it, 2) migrate some content and end up with content in two places (resulting in confusion), or 3) have a poor experience and dislike OneDrive for Business.
  • What content should be migrated? Migration is often a time to clean-up your existing content before migration, so you should determine if there are certain file types, age limits (last modified/accessed date), or other criteria for files that should be dispositioned.
  • Which migration tool should be used? Microsoft provides a free tool that can be used for basic file migrations and there are many 3rd party migration tools that provide more flexibility and control.
  • Migration Services? If you want help with the migration, have simple requirements, and enough licenses, you could utilize Microsoft FastTrack services to migrate your existing content. If your requirements, source, or schedule are more complex, you may want to consider Consulting Services to assist with the migration.

Organizational Change Management

Last but not least, you need to develop a plan for implementing the change within your organization. I have seen many customers just turn on OneDrive for Business and expect people to use it. OneDrive for Business is designed to be simple for users; however, they won’t even know it’s there (or what features it has) without processes in place to help the organization transition from the “old way” to the “new way” of doing business. It’s critical to the success of your OneDrive for Business project to develop a comprehensive organizational change management plan for engaging, communicating, training and gathering feedback from your end users. And it doesn’t stop with the initial implementation and roll-out of OneDrive for Business either. You’ll need to define and measure what success looks like and be prepared to continue the cycle of communication, training and feedback as an on-going way of doing business. Microsoft provides a lot of templates that can be used for sending communications or developing training materials.   Keep in mind, this isn’t only a change for your end users, it’s also a cultural change for how your IT team engages, communicates and delivers services.

What’s Next?

The list of features and controls is constantly changing in OneDrive for Business, so it is important to keep up with announcements to understand the impacts on your users, as well as better ways to protect your organizations’ content (this is where organizational change management plays a key role). Some good ways to stay informed are to review the Office 365 Roadmap, participate in the Microsoft Tech Community, review User Voice, and keep an eye on your Office 365 Tenant message center.

If you’re like most IT organizations, you’re juggling too much already. Dell EMC, a Microsoft Gold Certified Partner, can help you plan, implement and take on day-to-day management as an extension of your IT team to successfully guide adoption of OneDrive for Business. We offer extensive consulting services for all things Office 365. Reach out to your Dell EMC representative to learn how we can help you or leave me a comment below and I’ll be happy to respond back to you.

About the Author: Mike Shea

Mike Shea has been with Consulting Services for over 10 years, primarily focused on Microsoft collaboration services. During this time, Mike has engaged in multiple roles, including project management, business analysis, technical consulting, and pre-sales. Leading projects with organizations of all sizes and industries, Mike is passionate about helping customers achieve their workforce transformation objectives and helping to deliver personalized experiences for end users. He applies his deep knowledge and experience to approach projects from many perspectives and guide a customer engagement through the entire process from envisioning, solution assessment, design, implementation and training. In his free time, Mike enjoys spending time with his family and is an avid sports fan, including continuing to play in both football (flag) and soccer leagues.
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