SharePoint migration is just like moving into a new house!

Shwetank Mishra

No move is easy and moving out of a house can be a nightmare!

But, we do it for a more welcoming or a better frontier. When you think of why someone would choose to move to a new house/space, the common reasons include better amenities, need for more space, economic viability or expiration of lease with no option for renewal. And there are there things like security and a well-maintained neighborhood.  Similar analogies (reasons) are put forth for SharePoint migration where amenities are the new and advanced features which SharePoint 2016/2019 offers. SharePoint Online offers more scalability and space options (at a great value for the money) than the deprecating SharePoint versions, which would no longer be supported by Microsoft. SharePoint 2019, the newest version of SharePoint, offers features with high security and robust platform with improved governance. All the more reason why you should choose SharePoint migration.

Let’s see how similar the concepts of moving out of a house and migrating content are- We’re going to examine the different stages involved in both the processes. This might help you get a better understanding of migrating content to a new platform and enable you to design a good strategy.

new SharePoint migration

Planning

The most important exercise one forgets to perform is to evaluate the core business priorities, current pain points and set goals to accomplish/fix them. Taking a holistic approach to this, start by analyzing the entire platform including site collections, topology, solutions, permissions, etc., Try to anticipate the challenges and impact of adopting the new platform and overcome them by providing proper training to power users and defining the guidelines. Similar challenges could impact your move to a new space, where you and your family need to adjust, but it’s all worth it when it’s meeting your objective.

Mostly a vertical approach to migration is a go-to execution plan, where key workloads are identified and are picked up as pilots. For instance, it could be an Accounting department that could be identified as a top priority to be migrated. However, a horizontal approach is also equally important for an organization to access the common object as a day to day activity like an HR policy document, leave balance, management, etc.,

It is of vital importance to involve content owners in the early SharePoint migration planning stage, as these business owners would define the success of the migration project and the adoption of a new platform.

Know what to label

When you’re moving, labeling your stuff saves a great deal of time and energy. You can stay organized and in control of all your things even when it’s a big move. However, ensure that you label the necessary stuff. It’s a wise idea to label sugar, salt, tea, and coffee containers but not your car. The same analogy can be applied to SharePoint migration. Label your data by ‘tagging’ all the items. Tagging feature in SharePoint is of great help to users. Content can be located easily with it. But, it should be used with caution. Not everything needs tagging.

When you move, making an index of all the things that you’ve labeled is a life saver, because, you can search and locate everything through it. And while migrating, as the content size grows, “searchability” becomes challenging. This involves re-evaluating your current, site structure, templates, record and document management framework, taxonomy. Having a great ‘search’ feature will make your migration a stress-free experience.

Governance

When you move into a new house, you follow certain rules for safety purposes. You don’t allow your 4-year-old access to your liquor cabinet or you take special measures to restrict access certain sites on the internet.

Good governance and good parenting are quite similar.

Understand the current environment constraints and leverage SharePoint capabilities to meet your audit, compliance, legal, data retention requirements by planning effective Security and Governance policies.

SharePoint is permission driven and it’s through the right permission distribution and restricted access, you can ensure that your environment doesn’t become a mess. For instance, evaluate if all your users should be allowed to create additional sites, or security groups or edit site pages etc.,

https://saketa.com/blog/governance-compliance-and-risk-management/

Adoption and Training

With change comes resistance. Every organization has a few segments that have their own comfort zone. It’s not easy to adapt to change, even if it promises a better and more productive work life. Leaving them off our hook is not going to solve the problem as the legacy will always hit us back, sooner or later. So, the key is to plan ahead, win their trust, create special training and showcase how new things can simplify work, not disrupt.

The key is to do an RCA and address those specific potentially problematic areas. The importance of user training cannot be undermined, educating power users about how the new platform works, the extra set of features it offers, alongside preserving the branding/design of the existing platform is vital. Having effective training to help users accept and adapt, would be the most important success factor.

It’s like telling your kids that they still get to keep all their toys and, also have access to the pool area and the park to play in.

As experienced SharePoint consultants, we understand that migration goes far beyond a mere transfer of features and content. We consider migration as a new opportunity for organizations to improve their SharePoint implementation substantially, thus foster their business processes, employee productivity, and overall performance.

No two places are the same and similarly, no two SP migrations are the same. Both require careful planning, coordination and a fair amount of time. Both take a little while to get used to and adapt to new and better changes.

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