Office 365: Planning a SharePoint Migration

SharePoint is one of Microsoft’s fastest growing products and has been regularly described as having ‘as many uses as a Swiss Army Knife’.

While SharePoint can be purchased as a standalone solution, it is included within the Office 365 subscription – along with email, storage, social collaboration, conferencing software and the Office suite – making it an extremely cost effective and robust package for any organisation. Unfortunately SharePoint often goes unused or ends up being misused within Office 365 due to the challenges faced when implementing change and migrating your data to a new system. With a little help this transition can be a smooth and seamless one, bringing significant benefits to any organisation.

Whilst the process of the physical migration is relatively straightforward, it is important to first consider migration planning to ensure that the end result is better than what you started with. The overall migration process is a great opportunity to not only start using a better system but to also improve your content and structure within it as well as your business processes.

Office 365 has been around for 3 years now and we have helped many clients migrate to Office 365 – which means we have also carried out many SharePoint migrations, either alongside Office 365 migration or as a standalone service. From our experience and knowledge we are aware of the common pitfalls, areas of concern and also best practices for a smooth transition. In this article we want to share a rough guide and a few tips for carrying out an effective SharePoint migration.

Plan Your Migration: “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail”

A high-level summary of the process for migrating can be described as follows:

  • Evaluate your current environment
  • Determine the structure of your new environment
  • Identify what content needs moving
  • Identify appropriate migration tools
  • Develop a migration plan and migration test plan
  • Implement the migration scripts, test and execute

We have two specific recommendations that we make to clients when undertaking a migration:

Review your existing implementation before migrating

If you are confident that your existing structure and content is well organised and rationalised you can proceed straight to migration. However, most organisations find that over time content has become disorganised and change has meant that tagging and document control is not as good as it could be.

Therefore it makes sense to carefully plan what you really need to move, how it will be used and who will use it. Once this is done, you can work on your SharePoint Information Architecture, which involves developing your content types, metadata and keywords. If you are going to make the move to the cloud, move only the content you need and migrate it right from the start.

Develop a Governance Strategy

Corporate governance, or a governance strategy, is used in many business areas but is extremely effective and often necessary for IT systems. A SharePoint governance strategy will outline the administration, maintenance and support of the system – ensuring distinct lines of ownership and correct use of the environment.

There are many elements to a governance strategy, but in simple terms you want to look at monitoring your new system and ongoing maintenance activities to ensure that your system remains up-to-date. With any new implementation of SharePoint you want to actively monitor its usage and ensure that users are following the proper processes.
You also want to be sure that the right permissions are in place and that as people move across to SharePoint, and then into and out of the organisation that you are adjusting roles and permissions along the way.

In addition, it is worth keeping an eye on the amount of content you are storing within SharePoint online – you don’t want to have a lot of content stored online that’s not being used as it makes it harder to find things that you do need.

The Chorus Way

As a rule, we will always start a SharePoint migration by carrying out a full analysis of a business’s existing environment, which is our starting point for determining what information and processes to migrate.

This analysis gives you a clear understanding on the content and the customisations you have in your environment, as well as providing recommendations, which can help you to identify what to carry across and what needs attention before moving.

With your input, we can then create a detailed plan of what content and customisations that will be moved to SharePoint Online as well as outlining how they will be moved. For each customisation you will need to decide, with our guidance, if you want to provide that functionality in your SharePoint Online environment.

With SharePoint migrations it is never a good idea to rush in, as any issues can cause large user adoption issues, which are much harder to solve. Instead we believe that it is an ideal time to review your content and improve on it – after all, there is no point in changing something if it doesn’t bring additional benefits.

If you are looking at migrating to SharePoint, upgrading your SharePoint or interested in making the most of Office 365 then we can help you. Contact us today or ask us for more information to help make your SharePoint migration a success.