3 Tips for Planning Migration to SharePoint Online

3 Tips for Planning Migration to SharePoint Online

by Jeremy Thake

By now, we’ve all heard about the great new updates Microsoft has made to SharePoint with its latest platform release, SharePoint Online – enhanced features surrounding mobile, social, and apps, improved search functionality, e-discovery tools, and management tools for those running SharePoint Online as part of Office 365.

So how do you get there?

Typically, any sort of migration project can be tricky, and migration to SharePoint Online is no exception. There is no direct migration to SharePoint Online, unless you purchase third-party tools to assist in the process, so there are some speed bumps you can hit along the way if you don’t map out your migration carefully.

I’ve come up with three tips for planning your migration to SharePoint Online, which I’ve shared below. This should provide a solid start to your migration strategy, enabling you to get to SharePoint Online without the headache and collaborating with confidence in no time.

Assess your content. You’ve got to determine exactly what kind of content you’ll be migrating to SharePoint Online, because there can be some obstacles here.  You can’t move your on-premises SharePoint to the cloud and Office 365 without a third-party solution, so you’ll have to get creative. Yes, you can copy and paste between document libraries, but you’ll lose fidelity of your metadata by doing so. An even bigger issue is moving non-document content – because you can’t. All your discussion boards, blogs, wikis, custom list data, and social newsfeed data are stuck because you can’t move them with copy and paste. So you’ve got to examine what kind of content you have before you decide how you’re going to move it.

What do you actually need to move? Once you’ve assessed your content, it’s time to take a look and see what it is you actually use and what’s collecting dust. Think about cleaning out your closet – do you keep all of those clothes and shoes you aren’t wearing just because you’ve always had them? Or do you get rid of what you don’t wear to optimize your space? The same thing goes for your migration – this is a great time to determine the quality of your data and define accountability. Map out what data is absolutely necessary to migrate to SharePoint Online, and what is old and “not worn anymore” can be left behind.

Don’t just migrate – it’s time to manage. Migrating to a new platform is also a great time to re-examine things from an information architecture perspective. If you’re going to use SharePoint to manage your content, migration is an opportunity to look into restructuring your data. If you’re folder heavy, maybe you want to use migration to flatten your data and go to more of a heavy metadata approach. Migration isn’t just about getting from Point A to Point B – you can use it to manage your content as well. Taking the time to examine your information architecture could pay dividends down the road.

Migrating to a new platform can always feel like a major chore, but you can avoid the frustration if you take the time to develop a strategy. A little patience and a lot of planning can go a long way as you prepare for your SharePoint deployments in 2013.

Jeremy Thake joined AvePoint in 2011 as Enterprise Architect, and was later named Chief Architect in June of 2012. He was named a Microsoft SharePoint MVP in 2009, and continues to work directly with enterprise customers and AvePoint’s research and development team to develop solutions that will set the standard for the next generation of collaboration platforms, including Microsoft SharePoint 2013.

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