Streamlining identity transition through the delivery of a Microsoft 365 migration

Health Innovation Oxford & Thames Valley supports improvements in health and social care through innovation and systems transformation. It is a regional partnership covering around three million people in West Berks, Oxfordshire, Bucks, Frimley and Milton Keynes. This region is a leading national and international life sciences cluster with more than 640 life science businesses.

The business uses its knowledge, expertise and experience to develop sustainable solutions in response to population needs in collaboration with the NHS, life sciences industry and universities at local, regional, and national level. In doing so they improve patient outcomes, reduce health inequalities, help save the NHS money, support the economy and empower healthcare staff.

Objectives and approach

Health Innovation Oxford & Thames Valley, a key player in the healthcare and life sciences industry, initiated a major rebranding effort, changing its name from Oxford Academic Health Science Network to “Health Innovation Oxford and Thames Valley.”

The decision to rebrand and change the domain from to was a significant step towards aligning their digital presence with their evolving identity. There were a number of challenges and solutions involved in transitioning the organisation’s digital identity, specifically in migrating their Office 365 environment, to align with their new brand and domain name.

Circyl’s longstanding relationship with Health Innovation Oxford & Thames Valley allowed them to quickly understand the main challenges associated with the migration. Following an initial discussion, Circyl collaborated with their strategic partner Quiss Technology to identify the appropriate design and approach, which was then agreed by the client.

Pain points and challenges

One of the primary challenges encountered was the need to change the domain name and email addresses for all Microsoft 365 users. This task was complex, as it required a seamless transition without causing any disruptions in communication and collaboration within the team. Maintaining the integrity of user identities and access was of utmost importance throughout this process.

Another critical aspect of the project was the retention of existing emails for reference and continuity whilst ensuring that all new emails reached the correct addresses without any hitches. Balancing data preservation with the adoption of new email addresses was a key consideration throughout the process.

To guarantee that user accounts and services functioned properly under the new domain name, thorough user testing was essential. This was meticulously planned and executed to validate the functionality and performance of all systems, ensuring that users experienced a seamless transition.

As part of moving to a new domain name the existing Microsoft 365 platform including applications such as SharePoint, OneDrive and PowerBI also needed to be tested and where appropriate, have their content migrated. Changing a domain name in applications such as SharePoint can have a number of challenges such as broken content links, updates to customisations and third-party integrations, potential search indexing issues, and possible hindrances in external sharing and collaboration. Therefore this task required a specific approach to testing access that complimented the core domain and e-mail processes.

“We have developed a great working relationship with Circyl and value their guidance. They are very clear about where their expertise lies so when they suggested working alongside another specialist Partner to deliver our migration, we had no doubt they would make sure it met our expectations.”

Health Innovation Oxford & Thames Valley

Outcomes and principles

The migration process was organised into distinct stages to ensure a systematic and efficient transition. As such, a multi-stage process was utilised to facilitate the transition to the new Microsoft 365 domain name, from to

Stage 1: Microsoft 365 Domain Name Change

Initiated the transition from to by adding the new domain name to Microsoft 365 before verifying it and implementing the required DNS TXT record in the Domain Management/Control Panel. Once complete, the addition of the TXT DNS record was confirmed and the availability of the new domain within the Microsoft 365 environment was validated.

However registering a new domain does not automatically change the initial domain name within SharePoint Online, there this task needed to be done using PowerShell scripts which were executed after registering the new domain name in Azure. As part of the renaming process, Circyl ensured any links within the SharePoint site navigation were correctly updated. Whilst Microsoft provides an automatic redirect for one year, existing links in documents, Teams tabs etc will be updated organically by the customer when they are used.

Stage 2: User Account Transition

Sent a trial mail to a temporary test user mailbox using the new domain name and e-mail address format, followed by comprehensive testing to verify the correct functionality of the test user’s account across all business systems.

Stage 3 to Stage 5: Progressive Deployment

To ensure a smooth transition, a gradual deployment approach was adopted to progressively roll out the changes to an expanded group of users. This deliberate and phased implementation allowed thorough validation of the new setup’s functionality across a broader user base, enabling any potential issues to be addressed early on.

Stage 6 and Stage 7: Shared Mailboxes and Groups Transition

As part of this transition plan, shared mailboxes and groups were transferred to the new domain – a process that involved diligent testing to assess the compatibility and functionality within the updated environment. This ensured all collaborative elements seamlessly adapted to the new domain whilst maintaining optimal performance and reliability.

Stage 8:

During the domain name change, actions were taken to ensure the continued access to Microsoft 365 applications and data. Applications such as OneDrive, OneNote required minimal changes as Microsoft is continually updating and maintaining applications integrity in the background. Data access for existing URL links and documents were able to easily be re-established when users logged in again with their new credentials with fine tuning only needed for PowerBI reports and Teams meeting notes.

This step-by-step approach allowed Circyl and Quiss to smoothly transfer the customer to the new domain name whilst ensuring that all user accounts, shared mailboxes, and groups remained fully functional and accessible throughout the process. By following this structured migration, the client was able to seamlessly transition whilst allowing operations to continue as normal throughout.

Technologies utilised

During the project, Circyl leveraged the following technologies:


Microsoft 365: Microsoft 365 is a cloud-powered productivity platform. With a subscription to Microsoft 365, clients can unlock the latest productivity apps such as Teams, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook and One Drive.


Outlook: Outlook allows users to send and receive email messages, manage their calendar, store names and numbers of contracts and track tasks.

“We have worked with HIOTV for some time and have developed a strong working relationship. Their specific needs in this case required us to work alongside our Partner Quiss and together we were able to deliver the ownership needed to ensure the changes were seamless with no impact to the customers service operations.”

Roger Peacock, Business Development Manager, Circyl

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