Use These 6 Steps to Perform a Successful Phased SharePoint Migration

Welcome to the first installment of our newest blog series that will give you the blueprint to successfully migrate or upgrade to Microsoft SharePoint. Today, we’ll take a closer look at how to perform your migration in phases.

Migration is a great opportunity for the IT and line of business teams to work together and forge a tight partnership. You may be tempted to release your entire new SharePoint platform to all users immediately, but that’s a recipe for failure. 

Tame your excitement and release SharePoint in phases. This is a great time to break down the long-term vision for SharePoint into multiple, smaller phases. For example, each phase can consist of just a few sites.

The great part about conducting your migration in this way is it enables you to pinpoint the immediate scope and build the right information architecture, based on user requirements. It also helps you to take the right amount of time to train users properly and address important user adoption obstacles in SharePoint, such as managing and sharing content in SharePoint and not elsewhere. You can also correct mistakes and pitfalls in one phase so that you don’t repeat those errors in the next one.

There are six steps to take that will help you successfully phase your migration to the latest version of SharePoint:

  1. Educate the business on SharePoint’s benefits: You can’t decide what and how to create in the new platform without having a clear understanding of its capabilities beforehand. Demo SharePoint to show business users how they can organize documents, build sites, streamline navigation, and take advantage of new features. Do not move on from this step until you are completely confident that business stakeholders are educated and knowledgeable in the subject matter, as it will only add value to the future of your migration project.
  2. Gather requirements: Work with business leaders to gather the high-level requirements and better understand their use cases and business processes for the SharePoint sites, libraries, and other functionalities they request. Gather enough information to understand the requirements necessary to proceed to the subsequent phases. The best way to analyze and gather requirements is to have an interactive web or in-person meeting including a lively question-and-answer session.
  3. Construct information architecture: In this phase, document an overall taxonomy, metadata parameters, web parts, security configurations, navigation, and site hierarchy. This is your veritable step-by-step guide for when you move on to the configuration phase of your migration. The information architecture document shouldn’t be created once and then left to collect dust on a shelf (or buried in a hidden document library). You should constantly update this document as you go along, so you can help others understand just how SharePoint is structured.
  4. Map data: In a recent study, Gartner Research found 80 percent of companies’ content was redundant when they performed a pre-migration analysis of their current SharePoint deployment. The fastest way to migrate is a database attach method, which essentially means you take your current structure and content and push it immediately over into the new version. It’s fast, but it’s a short-term Band-Aid to a long-term problem of information architecture. Now is the time to stop this – map your current file share folders to new sites or particular folders to newly defined SharePoint metadata properties. This serves as a roadmap for the migration phase of the project.
  5. Configuration: Take your requirements and design documents created in past steps to create sites, libraries, metadata, views, navigation, and security groups. Remember that while you may have already planned out how you would design the sites, as you are actually designing the sites you may encounter unforeseen challenges. Make sure you are in close contact with your business stakeholders to discuss any challenges so that there are no surprises when you perform the first migration.
  6. Perform a beta migration: Your first migration – call it a “beta” – should be to your company’s thought leaders, champions, and key stakeholders. This is the best opportunity for you to measure results, adapt, and iterate for future migrations you conduct. When areas of a portal are migrated in phases like this, mark the areas that have been migrated to read-only on the source or older version of SharePoint so that employees can still get to the old content for a period of time. Make sure you communicate clearly – and frequently – to users exactly when the old system will be decommissioned completely, so any remaining hold-outs and “never adopters” have plenty of warning.

Come back next week as we will share how to successfully train new users once they are migrated to the latest version of SharePoint. Can’t wait until then? Download our free eBook today and learn how you can ace your SharePoint migration.

Written by Co-Founder, Evangelist and Chief Marketing Officer, Heather Newman

Once a month we share expert opinions on end user adoption, Office 365 and SharePoint that we like from our community.  Receive our next issue by signing up here.

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