5 SharePoint migration steps to success

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How do you ensure SharePoint migration success? These five key steps to a successful migration strategy will make all the difference, regardless of the complexity of your migration project.

SharePoint in Microsoft 365 is an exciting place. As organizations transition to new ways of work by leveraging Microsoft’s latest features and capabilities–including Teams and Microsoft 365 Groups–it’s up to IT teams to ensure that their businesses’ data also transition with them in one piece. 

You know the old adage, “Failing to plan means planning to fail.”

Whatever kind of SharePoint migration you’re planning, here are five important steps that have never let me down.

Step 1. Inventory what you have before migrating your SharePoint

This is mandatory in any SharePoint migration. In fact, it’s a good idea to always keep an active inventory of what you have to maintain and uphold your SharePoint governance plan and rules.

Why do we need an inventory? Simple. To prepare ourselves for a successful SharePoint migration. 

We’ll need to identify existing content as well as what actions we might want to run on each of them. 

Wondering how exactly you build this inventory yourself?

Step 2. Check for running SharePoint workflows before migration

This one is a little tricky. Our objective is to pull off a seamless SharePoint migration for users but also to keep everything as is if we can.

The problem is that the state of a running workflow cannot be kept without doing some crazy stuff or editing directly in the database, which would make you fall into an unsupported scenario with Microsoft.

Workflows created tend to lose the reference to their workflow definition after migration if they were in progress. That’s because when they try to complete the task, they look for the old definition and can’t find it.

What we generally do is look for all workflows that are still running or ‘In Progress’ if you will, and complete or cancel them. Once this is done, we can successfully migrate. 

Again this brings me back to the inventory in our first tip. You need to know what you have in terms of sites and what they contain, so a list of all your sites that contain a workflow, for example. This will help you better prioritize and plan.

Update: Transition from classic SharePoint workflows to Power Automate flows

Then, it’s a matter of running a PowerShell to find and in most cases terminate the running workflows.

Step 3. New features in Microsoft SharePoint—time for a new architecture?

Let’s face it, if you’re planning to migrate to a new version of SharePoint or SharePoint Online, it’s generally to take advantage of new features.

Sometimes we need to re-organize our information architecture or how we classify our content. What we can do is map what no longer exists and what we plan to do for each of them.

It’s important that before you do your migration, you identify what you plan to do as far as deprecated or obsolete features in SharePoint. Once again this brings me to our inventory…

Step 4. Remove, Migrate, Rebuild—employ my RMR strategy for SharePoint migration

If you search online for RMR Strategy, you’ll probably just land on one of my blog posts, it’s not an actual popular named strategy, but one we’ve done here at ShareGate through our many migrations. Here’s the gist of the strategy:

  • Remove
  • Migrate
  • Rebuild

What I do is pull the complete inventory of your current environment we’ve built and assign an action for each in the summary view. Whether it’s to Remove, Migrate or Rebuild the site in question, I will be able to know exactly what to do when I look at the plan.

On another note, I tend to assign ‘points’ to each of these sites in my inventory when I assign one of these three tasks. This helps me when building the roadmap to know how much I can do each month based on the points system.

Step 5. Create an effective communication plan for your SharePoint migration

Nothing’s worse than coming to your work routine and seeing everything is changed. 

Whether you like it or not, you are the bad guy for changing this comfortable routine everyone had. They knew where to click and how to do their job. Now, things are going to look different and, in many cases, work differently as well. This is even more of a factor when migrating from File Shares to a SharePoint environment. 

Without a proper and well-built communication plan, your new SharePoint’s adoption could quickly flatline. Communication is crucial and can be so simple to build. The key is constant communication of changes. More importantly? Communicate the value this change will add to their everyday task. 

In almost all cases, an educated user will be willing to overlook quirks in your application if they are aware of the overall value this will bring. Knowing when this change will impact their job and having access to training adds great value and greatly helps you increase adoption. 

In some of my previous work, we’ve gone as far as to provide custom video training to provide a very targeted and custom on-demand training. This has been extremely well received, every time.


Your SharePoint migration process, simplified

Obviously, I work here at ShareGate and it may sound bias, but using tools can greatly help with a SharePoint migration.

And sometimes, it’s worth taking a look at the amount of time and work it would save you just by using tools like ShareGate to migrate and manipulate content or effortlessly modernize SharePoint sites.

We’ve built the complete custom solution for Microsoft 365 management. Everything you need to migrate and manage your content, understand your inventory, clean up and govern your tenant, control permissions, and guide users to use the right tools the right way is right at your fingertips in one simple and affordable multi-tool.

Our Source Analysis report gives you a detailed inventory of your source environment, including its size and the total number of sites, site collections, and workflows. It also pinpoints potential issues you might run into during your migration, so you know exactly what to fix before you start.

Sgm Public Source Analysis

Pretty neat, right? We’ve got this handy SharePoint Migration checklist you can use to make sure nothing is left out in your SharePoint migration project. At ShareGate, we’re here from your migration planning to help with the adoption of your new environment.

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