Secrets of SharePoint success: migrating to Office 365

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So, you’ve made the decision to migrate to the cloud and you’re ready to go? But hold on! While the journey from on-premises to the cloud is most certainly worth it, and can be (relatively) straightforward, you still need to make sure you have planned correctly for the move. Think of it this way: if you were moving house you wouldn’t just pick up whatever you could carry and start walking, would you? There are a number of elements that you should consider before, during and after your migration. We’re here to help with that.

What are you moving?

Remember, when you move house, you’re not just taking your valuables and furniture with you, but also changing location which may affect anything from how you get to work to where you buy your food. And finally, as obvious as it might seem, you are moving yourself too and it will likely take some time before you settle into your new place. So, when you are planning a migration, you need to consider similar things:

  • Migrating content: files, folders, data, documents, etc.
  • Migrating your way of working: customisations, workflows, permissions, anytime accessibility, etc.
  • Migrating your employees: helping your employees acclimatise to the new environment

Be content

When you move home you need to find places in the new house for your stuff. The space you have available might be greater or less than what you had before and you’ll need to accommodate for that. Will you decide to move all your stuff to the new place, including all that junk in the attic that you don’t use anymore?

It’s the same for your SharePoint content: are you going to move every file, folder and piece of data in your SharePoint Server over to Office 365? The chances are you don’t. To find out what you do need to bring and what can be left behind it’s important to conduct a review of your existing libraries.

  • Self-audit: migrations cost time and money, so the lighter the load of data you have to migrate the quicker and more cost effective the move will be. Asking what content is essential to your employees or from a compliance point of view, what is important and what is not needed, will allow you to decide what you’re going to bring and what you’re leaving behind.
  • Time to change: This is also a good opportunity to make changes to how you organise your content. Do file and folder names need to be updated? Perhaps you need to store certain pieces of data in a different location. Now is a great time to do this.

Help carrying your content

Once you’ve decided what is certified migratable content, there are several ways you can physically move it to Office 365.

  • Help from a giant: Microsoft offer a couple of services when you are attempting to migrate your content to Office 365. After all they want as many people as possible to sign up for the service. FastTrack is there service to help get your content into the cloud. Along with FastTrack, the tech giant also offer Windows PowerShell cmd lets to move content from SharePoint Server sites to Office 365.
  • The DIY approach: A manual migration is one in which you connect your on-premises SharePoint libraries with SharePoint Workspace, which uploads content directly to SharePoint Online by connecting your existing SharePoint libraries with SharePoint Workspace. From SharePoint Workspace, content will sync with SharePoint Online.
  • Let the professionals take care of it: Third-party tools like Lightning Tools’ Lightning Migrator, make the migration experience as simple as possible, by copying and transporting SharePoint Lists, Libraries, Sites, Workflows, and Documents with a couple of clicks.

Adapt your way of working

While content is where the heavy lifting of your move takes place, there are also more high level considerations to be made over the internal structure of your new Office 365 environment. You need to think about workflows, customizations, and who will have permissions to what to ensure you get the most from the platform.

SharePoint Online has storage limits depending on the Office 365 plan you are signed up to. The likelihood is that you will have larger storage space than you might have had on-premises, but understanding what your limits are is always a good idea.

If you were thinking your custom code will work the same way in SharePoint Online, unfortunately you may be in for a surprise—custom code will simply not migrate to the cloud. However, Office 365 provides alternatives through add-ins and some limited customizations. Again, knowing this is half the battle.

Moving the whole family

The human element in a SharePoint to Office 365 migration is one of the most important aspects to consider before, during and after your move. Your employees are used to working a certain way, and a change to their routine can be damaging to their productivity. What’s more, poor adoption of the new technology could result in a meagre return on investment. That’s why change management is so important to your migration. Here are several steps to help affect good change:

  • Plan: As with the migration as a whole, you need to set out a plan for this stage of the move. Your employees will respond much better if they see your migration team knows what they are doing.
  • Designate leadership roles: Getting top level support for any new solutions you’re hoping to implement is important but so is putting together a change management team to ensure the process goes smoothly.
  • Spread the word: An oversight some businesses make is failing to make their employees properly aware of the changes. This should happen well in advance of the migration so employees can prepare. This should include reminders in the lead up and further announcements afterwards via emails, flyers and other information sources.
  • Launch date and further training: Setting a period when the new changes will take effect enables your users to prepare both practically and mentally. Make sure that you provide training in the first few weeks of the launch date and further training over time.

Preparation is your secret weapon for migrating to Office 365

Migrating to Office 365 from SharePoint on-premises is achievable with a little planning ahead of you. Remember: think about your content, think about how you work with that content, and don’t forget to tell the whole organisation where they’re going. That way it’ll be a smooth ride for everyone.

To learn more about Office 365 and SharePoint online and how we can help you migrate successfully, get in touch with us today.