5 SharePoint Document Migration Tips

I am doing a lot of work with clients looking to migrate from File Servers to SharePoint Online. These creaky old servers are often full of surprises that are the legacy of years or even decades filing without any significant tidy up.

Moving to SharePoint is a one off opportunity to tidy up, rethink how documents are stored and managed and to create a good foundation for the collaborative future your users are dreaming of!

Before you turn SharePoint on and start dragging files, have a read of these 5 tips.

  1. Focus your effort where the value is. Your time is limited and tidying up files can take an enormous amount of time. Look for the high value content such as contracts, policies and procedures. Don’t waste your effort on low value content.
  2.  Allow time for linked spreadsheets. Chances are these will need to be relinked when you move them to SharePoint. Warn the owners and budget some of their time for relinking.
  3. Don’t store everything in one Document Library. Libraries can have different metadata, views, Flows, templates, permissions, versioning and can be sync’d offline. Create multiple libraries and take the features above into consideration when designing your site structure.
  4. Avoid individual file permissions. The less granular your permissions, the easier they are to maintain. Complex permissions should be used only when absolutely neccessary and even then you should think twice!
  5. Don’t do it all at once. As you and your users get to know SharePoint you will start to understand what you like and don’t like. Take small steps so to avoid costly / labour intensive mistakes. Better to learn a lesson on a small area of content rather than the entire site!

Now for the bonus tip. Use the Pareto Principle! You will often find guides, read whitepapers or get advice on migrating that could be great in the ideal world, where time and budget are unlimited. Unfortunately for most of us, that isn’t where we live and the 80/20 rule will help you get a result. Remember that last 20% is often more costly than the first 80% (in both time and money), and ask yourself if the final 20% is worth the investment. Flipping this around the other way, high value content (see tip #1) will most likely be less than 20% of your content, but it might be the place you should focus more of your effort because it contains 80% of the value.

There are numerous lessons to be learnt when migrating to SharePoint and this list only scratches the surface. Take your time, plan each move and write down what success looks like and don’t be afraid to adjust your plan as you go and learn more about how your users want to work and how they don’t.

Microsoft’s SharePoint Migration Tool helps with migrating content to SharePoint from local disk, file servers and SharePoint 2010/2013.

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