SharePoint Migration – Preparation is EVERYTHING

Benjamin Niaulin

Just got back from the SharePoint Summit in Toronto where I presented on “The Three Key Steps for a Successful Migration from SharePoint 2007 to SharePoint 2010”. By the large number of attendees, I realized that more and more people are in the process of migrating to SharePoint 2010. And during a SharePoint migration, it’s important to take certain things into consideration. Here is what I talked about.

  • Preparation is important

    • Governance
    • Governance committee
    • Migration strategy
  • Migration

    • Choose a method
    • Create pilot sites
    • Involve users, customer for the solution
  • Post migration

    • Maintain and enforce governance
    • Communication and support
    • Retention and archiving

Some of the hardest work is in the preparation. The migration process provides a chance to rethink how you are going to use SharePoint, apply best practices, structure your information; it’s an opportunity for you. Of course for this to work, we need to get prepared.

We have to start with a Governance Plan, I know sounds like you have heard this before. Here is a quick overview of what you need to do in there.


Yes, Microsoft offers a whitepaper on Governance that you can download. However, I feel it can be a bit too much, too complex to attack the first time.

Consider using a SharePoint Wiki as your Governance platform. Create your definitions of roles, responsibilities, processes quickly as you go while using the Wiki’s quick page linking ability.

While setting up your governance plan, you might be wondering if these rules are actually going to be respected. This is actually one of the biggest issues in SharePoint today, IT or the SharePoint team agrees on an architecture only to have someone from Senior Management ask for the opposite solution couple of weeks later. How do we go about to solve this?

Consider creating a Governance Committee to approve the policies and decisions made in the Governance Plan. The Committee’s members should include both IT and the business. The closer they are to senior management the better. This will ensure that once something is approved and written in the governance plan, upper management will respect it. You will have backed yourself with the committee’s decision. The Committee’s main responsibilities are to build and approve the governance plan as well adjusting and maintaining it throughout the project’s lifecycle.

Find a Migration Strategy

You should figure you what you want to do with your content, but to do that, you need to know what you have. Sounds silly but, more often than not, I see clients choosing migration strategies without really knowing what they have in SharePoint 2007.

Consider collecting all of your SharePoint Sites into an excel sheets with a minimum of information. Many times I take the time to talk to each site owner to find out what’s in their site. Once we have this information we can create our DMR plan. Decommission Migration Rebuild are three possible outcomes to a SharePoint 2007 Site. Here is how I categorize it:


To help you visualize it better, pretend you have a site that has only a content approval workflow, you’ve had almost no crashes or bugs with and uses the correct content types already. Then I would recommend you mark this site as a site to Migrate over. However, if you have a site with a custom solution, branding and an InfoPath form, I would recommend you Rebuild the site using SharePoint 2010 technology.

Towards the end consider visualize the amount of work you have to do by seeing the number of sites you will have to DMR.


X Sites


X Sites


X Sites

It is very basic but it really helps me visualize amount of work I am looking at.


Only now should you be thinking about the required Infrastructure required for SharePoint 2010 to hold your desired vision. Many times I see clients that already have SharePoint 2010 installed with a topology that seemed ideal according to IT. Yet no governance plan existed, no ideas on the number of sites that were going to migrated or the amount of custom solutions in them.

Like Mark Miller (Founder of said in his song at SPTechCon. “Hey, IT, leave SharePoint alone!”

Choose a Migration Method

Of course, the day will come where you will no longer be analyzing what you have and will want to start the move. Once you get there, you will have to choose between three methods:

  • Method 1 : In Place Upgrade

  • Method 2 : Database attach upgrade to a new farm

  • Method 3 : Content migration

Microsoft already has a lot of information on the first two methods available on their site.

Method 1 – In Place

Upgrade by installing on existing SharePoint 2007 hardware



No additional hardware purchase


Farm-wide settings are preserved and upgraded


WSP Solutions are kept after migration, though they might not all work

SharePoint 2010 is x64 cannot be upgraded from x86

Difficult to test

Migrates old unused sites as well

Method 2 : Database attach upgrade to a new farm

Detach a SP2007 DB and attach it to a new SP2010 environment



Control Databases to be migrated

Farm configurations not kept

Complete migration or site by site

Any server-side customizations must also be

transferred and upgraded manually. Any missing

customizations may cause unintended loss of

functionality or user experience issues.

Tests can be easily performed before migrating

Migrates over all content in DB, even unwanted

Method 3 : Content migration

Implement SharePoint 2010 using all new available features and configurations. Then migrate the content only



Control content to be migrated

Implies complete Site and structure creation before migration starts

Better information architecture control on the new site

Takes time

Governance policies easily respected

Transfer responsibility to the Power Users

Method 3 is by far my favorite because it allows me to control what I am migrating, where and how. It’s very possible that in the past my document was assigned metadata from a library lookup column and that today this document will be associated to a content type with a Managed Metadata column.

More to come

Of course there are many other important factors like Training, Communication plans that you should consider and eventually I will talk about them as well. 

Hey, got another minute?

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