Many companies are thinking about moving to the Cloud, and this includes SharePoint clients. Microsoft is pushing the advantages of Office 365 to its customers, and many are finding its wealth of features offer a good argument to either move away from existing ‘On Premises’ solutions entirely or set up a hybrid environment which leverages both the benefits from the cloud and on-prem.
There are several advantages in using Cloud systems – including flexibility of functionality, lower start up and ongoing costs, and ease of maintenance. Yet migrating to the Cloud is not always easy, especially when it comes to SharePoint. Many companies still have legacy SharePoint systems which include customizations and lots of content. Not all of these customizations will work in the Cloud, and content migration requires a good deal of proper planning and thought.
Moving to the Cloud can be complex
Migration projects are inherently difficult, and they shouldn’t be undertaken lightly. To test if your organisation or company is ready here are five questions that you should be able to answer positively before attempting an Office 365 migration.
1. Have you audited the current system?
An audit of your current implementation consists of two things:
- Audit your content: Which content is still valid and which needs to be migrated? Take this chance to delete or archive content that is no longer required in the new system.
- Audit functionality: Which custom functionality in the existing SharePoint system needs to be migrated? Look at all the options – like farm solutions, custom site templates built using the browser, custom workflows in SharePoint Designer, etc. Office 365 offers new functionality that can often replace custom functionality altogether. Your system will be all the better for using Office 365 native functions as much as it can.
2. Have you audited custom code?
Over the years, it is likely that a lot of custom code has been deployed to your SharePoint farm. If your system has been running for a while you might not even be aware of which customizations are running and even who built them.
It is important to realise that not all customizations can be migrated to Office 365. For example, full trust farm solutions are not supported. Even more you might realize that some of your customizations might not be required anymore or the underlying business need has changed. Thus a re-design might be necessary anyway.
Analysing your customizations manually is extremely time-consuming. Try our our free SPCAF Migration Assessment tool. It generates detailed report about customizations in your farm in a couple of seconds, helps you to understand what they currently do and guides you to migrate them to the app model!
3. Have you thought properly about content migration?
When you know which content you want to migrate, you have to answer the question: How are you going to migrate that content?
Office 365 offers the Explorer View, which allows you to open a SharePoint library in Windows Explorer. This is suitable for small migrations, but lacks certain key functionality like migrating metadata and incremental migrations.
Sharegate is a sophisticated 3rd party option to migrate your content to Office 365, though a number of other products exist. They recently released version 5.0 of their software with a lot of improvements. It will well worth considering a tool like this if you have a lot of content to move.
4. Have you thought about long term maintenance of the new solution?
The implementation of the new solution in Office 365 is a good moment to not only think about the migration, but also about the future:
- How is content going to be maintained? Will there be a dedicated Intranet Manager or team in place to manage things?
- How are customizations to be maintained? Even though in Office 365 there is no longer a farm to maintain, customizations need to be monitored and maintained. SPCAF can analyze custom apps and sandboxed solutions deployed to your Office 365 and provide detailed reports about maintainability, code quality, and dependencies.
5. Have you talked to your users?
The most important people in a migration project are the users of the SharePoint system.
By organising workshops with key users, their thoughts about the current and the new solution can be fully understood. Current functionality and content can be discussed and the advantages of new functionality in Office 365 can be demonstrated.
This way users will feel engaged, which helps to increase the popularity of the new implementation. It is generally a good idea to keep everyone in your organisation in the loop as much as possible. Not only by sending emails, but also by organising presentations, demos, workshops, etc. People are key to a good migration.
Preparation is key
A migration project can be complex and requires proper preparation. When a migration is not prepared well, it will most likely fail. Analyze your content and customizations thoroughly, inform and discuss the migration with your users, and develop a migration strategy. Don’t forget to update your users regularly. People in general don’t like changes, so by informing them in advance of change they feel more engaged.
Our own SPCAF can be used to understand and analyze any customizations in the ‘On Premises’ SharePoint environment, as well as migrate and maintain them in Office 365.