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How to overcome 5 common Microsoft Teams migration challenges

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A successful Microsoft Teams tenant to tenant migration requires proper planning and execution. We explain how you can mitigate common challenges in the process and ensure a smooth transition to a new Teams environment.

With cloud adoption taking a quantum leap in the last few years, there’s a real need to migrate and restructure Microsoft Teams environments

Content created in Teams is more valuable than ever. The ability to migrate this data as needed, in the context of a merger or acquisition, is a critical process to ensure your workflows also transition with you seamlessly. However, moving between two Teams environments is not without its bottlenecks. 

You want to make sure end users understand the benefits behind the move with a strategic communication plan. But monitoring the data during the planning and migration stages is just as important. Monitoring is key to understanding the current state of your Teams environment and maintaining efficiency and productivity throughout the migration lifecycle.

Whether you perform a manual migration or use a third-party tool to simplify the process, here are some common factors to consider in various stages of a Teams migration that can go a long way to mitigating issues.

Common challenge #1: Microsoft Teams pre-migration planning

Solution: Review your current Teams structure

One of the most common causes behind cloud migration issues stems from a lack of planning. 

Planning a new Teams environment requires a structural review of your existing teams and chats, and assessing what to bring to your new tenant.

To ensure users have everything they need to succeed in their new Teams environment, make a list of your existing teams (and channels). You can do this manually, or you can use a migration tool to plan and migrate elements of your structure.

ShareGate’s Microsoft Teams migration tool lets you connect to the tenant you want to migrate from and generates a list of all your existing teams along with information about each team’s ownership and privacy settings.

Got questions about Teams migration? Visit our Teams migration FAQ list and get the answers you need.


Common challenge #2: What Microsoft Teams data to migrate

Solution: Take inventory and clean up data before migration

A lot of preparation needs to happen before anything is moved to your new environment which can be a much bigger challenge than migration. 

Not sure what data to migrate? Knowing exactly what you have—and where it’s located—will help you assess which content should get the green light for migration. With all the collected data on what you’re planning to move, you’ll be equipped to make better decisions to prepare for your migration. 

An inventory should include information like:

  • The amount and type of content (teams, standard channels, private channels, associated SharePoint site, etc.)
  • Where that content is stored (SharePoint team site, Exchange team mailbox, OneDrive, etc.)
  • Who has access to that content (guest users/external sharing) 
  • What actions you might need to run on certain items (copy existing structure and content, import external content, or restructure your environment)

More than that, you can facilitate the process by taking this opportunity to do some cleanup.

You want to make sure you migrate what your company needs to get their work done, but that doesn’t mean everything that exists in your current environment is still relevant. Filtering out duplicate teams and content that’s no longer in use will help lay the groundwork for a more efficient Teams environment. A tidy environment makes it easier for users to find what they’re looking for, fast.

In other words, migrate only what you need!

Run reports to find and remove anything that is not in use in your source environment to reduce your overall migration scope and accelerate your migration.

Common challenge #3: Ensuring teams have the proper membership and permissions

Solution: Use a third-party tool to migrate all your Teams data

Microsoft doesn’t offer an out-of-the-box solution to replicate team membership and permissions in Microsoft Teams.

You want to make sure that everything makes it to the destination with all of its accesses and permissions intact.

In the course of a manual migration, you’ll need to generate a list of details about your existing Microsoft Teams. There’s no way to do this using Microsoft tools, so hopefully, you’re comfortable with scripting!

To export details about all of the teams in your source tenant, you can run a slightly modified version of this PowerShell script. Note: make sure you have the SharePoint Online PnP PowerShell module installed in order to run this script.

Otherwise, you can use a third-party tool to automatically map users at the destination. That way, you’re sure the right people have access to the right teams with the right set of permissions.

With ShareGate’s Microsoft Teams migration tool, you can bring along:

  • Team settings and description
  • Membership (owners and members)
  • Permissions
  • Conversation history (including sender, threaded messages, links, and timestamps)
  • Public channels
  • Lists
  • Files (along with their history and metadata)
  • Tabs
  • Apps and bots (those that are available in the App Store)
  • SharePoint site customizations
  • Default wiki pages
  • OneNotes
  • Planner plans

Common challenge #4: Estimating the time and effort required for a Microsoft Teams migration

Solution: Perform a test migration with at least 1 GB of data to get a general idea 

A Teams migration can be vastly different from one organization to the next. That being said, your organization’s size, resources, etc. can affect the scope of your migration and become a potential issue for the execution of the project.

Build a realistic estimate of the migration time and effort. Testing is the best way to estimate the time it will take, and what type of challenges you could face.

Generally, total migration time has more to do with the complexity of your environment than the total size of your sites and files.

To get a general idea of the migration time for your content, find a folder or library with at least 1 GB of documents that closely represents your overall project, and migrate it. This will give you a metric to estimate how long your total amount of data can take to migrate.

Example: If 1 GB of data took you one hour to migrate, you can roughly estimate that your content will migrate at a rate of 1 GB per hour.

Common challenge #5: Risk of downtime and data loss

Solution: Take proactive steps to minimize disruption

Among other common Teams migration challenges to brace yourself for is data protection. By following some crucial steps to avoid losing data during your Microsoft Teams migration, you can ensure the least possible impact on your users and reduce risk.

Monitoring can help you get to the root of potential issues quickly and fix them. 

Here’s a list of some things to look out for that could potentially cause issues during migration to help get you started:

  • URLs (file paths) and file names
  • File sizes
  • Character limitations
  • Custom solutions
  • Branding
  • InfoPath
  • Workflow state and history
  • Permissions (do you have access to all the files?)
  • Folders with more than 5000 items
  • Unsupported site templates
  • Orphaned users
  • Checked out files
  • Unsupported list templates
  • File extensions

Coming up with a scalable process to find and fix migration problems can be labor-intensive. Using a third-party tool, you can run a migration report once the project is complete to see everything in your migration’s scope, including migration issues and errors, so you can focus on your troubleshooting efforts.

Find and fix problems using ShareGate’s migration report.

Understanding common challenges associated with a Teams migration can help you better prepare for the move and come out the other side with a destination environment that’s secure and easier to manage. And don’t forget to head to the ShareGate migration tool overview to learn more about what our migration tool can help you do!

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