Why you should migrate to SharePoint Online and how to successfully adopt the change.

Why you should migrate to SharePoint Online and how to successfully adopt the change.

  • 27 July,2021

There are many reasons for migrating to SharePoint Online, one of the driving factors in the decision making process can be acknowledging that “something” is amiss in the current environment. There are other factors and situations that can bring forth the need to change such as: your organisation is using an on-premises version of SharePoint that’s soon out of support; new features added to SharePoint Online might help you be more productive; maintaining the on-premises infrastructure is becoming difficult; or maybe search functions are not properly configured and it’s an absolute nightmare to find an important file.

When starting a migration journey, it is common misconception that “SharePoint migrations are pretty straight forward”.

There are many reasons for migrating to SharePoint Online and many things to take into consideration when the “idea” of a SharePoint migration springs to mind. It’s not just about the volume to be migrated, nor only the type of files anymore.

Regardless of the reason, every SharePoint migration needs to be thoroughly planned and executed. At CPS, we aim to help you along the way to provide the best experience possible during this important transformation.

Discovery 

The first step on this journey is to analyse the current environment, it doesn’t stop at SharePoint on-premises. What about file shares, or external systems? Discovery should at least hold two phases:

      1. High Level Analysis
      2. In-Depth Analysis

Each phase has a specific purpose to gradually understand how things are organised and how content is being used. It also allows for getting each team’s vision as to what is and isn’t working well, what the priorities are, and what can and cannot be migrated (i.e.: customisations), to ultimately translate those needs in the future platform.

Planning

Every aspect needs to be planned as much as possible, both technical and non-technical, for example cleansing the current environment, or simply making sure you have the appropriate people and hardware. Migrating to a new environment is the opportunity to start afresh, bringing only the relevant information across.

Another crucial aspect is Risks. What are they? Can my SharePoint on-premises go down during the migration? Yes, it’s possible. Those risks have to be captured with an associated mitigation plan.

Time is very often a contributing factor to a difficult migration, while the goal is to have a better end solution to help the organisation be more productive.  Whenever possible, room should be left for any hurdles along the way. The time spent in planning is always valuable to leave no stone unturned.

Design

Thinking about your new environment is as crucial as knowing what’s in the current one. The design phase is a detailed approach to talk about the new structure. How many sites should we have? Do we want to keep all those nested folders? What are we going to do with custom code that might not be supported in SharePoint Online? Who will be the Site Owners? What site designs will be needed? How will the provisioning process be handled?

Things have changed in SharePoint Online compared to the on-premises versions. We have Microsoft 365 Groups, integration with other services like Microsoft Teams and the Power Platform, as well as making your data secure with Security and Compliance.

There are so many questions to be answered before hitting the migration switch. At CPS, we help organisations answer those questions by providing expertise and best practices.

Communication

You are migrating to a collaboration platform. So, it’s important to collaborate now! Creating a roadmap might help your users understand what’s coming and when, and how they can adjust to the “New Ways of Working”. Don’t set the organisation up to fail by telling them on Friday at 4.00pm that Monday is THE day to use SharePoint Online. Why not setup a site where employees can track progress and the current status? That might help.

Users are the primary drivers for adoption, and we aim for them to be as confident as possible.

Migration 

When it’s finally time to run a migration, the first one should be a test run. Observe the results, and remediate if necessary until the desired outcome is achieved. If discovery, planning and design have been reasonably thought through, remediation should be minor.

There are a few factors that can impact the performance of a migration. For example, throttling when making a very large number of requests to SharePoint Online, or migrating during work hours when users are utilising both SharePoint environments.

Once you’re satisfied with the test run, migrate a medium size site but with the intent to keep it live afterwards. This pilot migration gives the opportunity to assess the migration report for this live data and gather feedback from users, as maybe there was something that wasn’t highlighted during the test run.

Other ways to check if a migration has been successful could be to cross check as much as possible, depending on volumes. This process could be manual or scripted. For “lift & shift” migrations, we could compare a few or all sites. Have they been created as the tool says they have? Do we have the same number of documents in the target library as we had in the on-premises environment?

For more complex migrations with larger volumes, we could randomly search for specific documents, using refiners or advanced search queries. This might highlight a pattern where a site has in fact not been migrated correctly.

Change and Adoption

There’s no denying that Digital Transformation is a big step. And COVID-19 has created such a disruption worldwide that organisations realised they couldn’t continue to work the old way. Microsoft 365 offers a set of tools and services that can improve efficiency and productivity. At CPS we focus on the successful delivery of the desired business outcomes while sharing our expertise for the platform to be fully adopted and utilised effectively.

Training users should not be neglected, but what has to come out of it all is value. This value will ultimately improve organisations’ objectives and maximise ROI.

To find out more about Microsoft SharePoint and how it can work in your organisation, contact us at Hello@CPS.co.uk