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5 Common Mistakes When Performing a SharePoint Migration

Author by Drew Madelung

So, after a few months of meetings, discussions, sales pitches from vendors and a lot of reading online, you’ve decided you’re going to make the leap: you will migrate to the latest iteration of SharePoint.
Now all you need to do is just jump in there and migrate your content already!


Even if you've ever performed a SharePoint migration before, this isn't something you should do without proper planning and consideration. There are many things that should be taken into consideration and many mistakes that need to be avoided. Fundamentally, however, they all come down to one thing: planning.
We’ve helped many companies from all different sizes with their SharePoint migrations and have learned a lot. Below are the five most common migration mistakes we hear about companies making. Make sure you don’t get caught out!

1.IT-heavy teams

All too often, content migrations are seen purely as a job for the IT department—and maybe an external consultant or two. But this is the wrong outlook! IT can certainly be depended on to complete the migration functionally, but unless you have people who know the needs and processes (and quirks!) of different departments, the migrated content will not fit around how those teams need it. Also if you are using the migration as a refresh of your environment you will need to ensure this is not just an IT decision. 
What to do:
We recommend that migration teams should be about 25% IT and 75% the rest of the business – with power users from departments represented. 

2.Internal project becomes ‘eternal’ project

Almost every business experiences this problem: while internal projects are important, they tend to be easily moved to the back burner. As a result, other more pressing matters take over team members’ time. This leads to situations where a content migration, which is incredibly important and should be performed efficiently, in a reasonable amount of time, ends up taking years – or never even getting completed!
What to do:
We recommend that you treat the migration project in the same way as any other organizational project—give it the dedication it deserves (and requires). Assign a project manager, break the migration down into its subtasks and assign resources and people to ensure those tasks get completed. One good plan that we have used it to build a wave or staged migration to ensure the proper testing and change management can be handled. 

3.Unquestioningly replicating your old content structure

Imagine you were moving from your old office to a brand-new building. Would you bring all the same chairs, desks and piles of paper and lay them out in exactly the same way as before? Of course not! A content migration is also a time for change—it makes no sense to automatically replicate your old content structure in the new environment.
We’ve heard of companies where, following a content audit, it was decided almost half of that content was no longer actually used or needed to be maintained. Keeping that old content will do nothing but replicate messy and disorganized lists and libraries and make your migration slower and less effective.
This is even more important if your organization performed any in-place upgrades in the past (i.e. from SharePoint 2010 to 2013), as certain elements could be forgotten, left behind or simply not supported if you’re using a third-party tool to migrate.
What to do:
Perform a detailed inventory and audit of your existing content. Set up task forces to analyze your existing data and identify that which is no longer needed. Of course, you might still want to hang onto it somewhere, but there are more effective alternatives than sticking it all in into your new SharePoint environment. It can also be very helpful to use the Microsoft provided or 3rd party tools for this discovery. 

4.Failure to conduct a gap analysis

A gap analysis is quite simply a comparison of the differences between different aspects of your old environment and the new one. In many areas, the difference between SharePoint versions are minimal, meaning you can simply replicate certain things like document libraries in your environment.
But a new version of SharePoint almost always means changes. It’s incredibly important to know of every new or removed functionality and to plan accordingly. This initial planning is especially imperative if your organization had any custom solutions installed, as most of these cannot be migrated as seamlessly as the rest.
So, there are many questions you should be asking yourself: If migrating to SharePoint 2016, are you going to choose a hybrid environment? What will your requirements be, compared to what you have now? Do users need additional training to use the new platform?
What to do:
Communication! Perform a pre-migration inventory, evaluate each piece of content, each workflow and each customization and how it will fit into your new environment's structure. If it doesn’t find a solution. Knowing the differences between the platforms will save a lot of time and frustration during the migration process. Communicate these changes to everyone in the organization.

5.Not making a migration map

A migration map helps you locate where content will be moved to, when, how and by who. It groups different types of content together and helps you ensure metadata is applied correctly. Make sure this roadmap is well documented using Excel, XMind, Visio or even SharePoint. This way everyone will know where everything is and where it needs to go.
Yes, it will take hard work and a lot of concentration to map your migration, but it’s worth doing it —the alternative is discovering that you needed one only after you’ve begun migrating content and realized you don’t know where some of it needs to be, or who should be doing it. This could result in important content being left behind or forgotten!
What to do:
First, you need to have an inventory of your content. If you followed the first the first few steps, this should already be done. Your SharePoint migration map needs to basically plan what’s going to go where. Align different pieces of content with their ultimate destination and identify who oversees and executes every step of the migration – if you discover any gaps, then you can act before the move itself begins.

Good luck!

Migrations are never easy, but if you have the right tools and follow best practices, there’s no reason your migration won’t be a success. Let Concurrency know if you want to discuss your upcoming migration and how we can help!

This post was built with the help of one of our partners, Sharegate

Drew Madelung

Technical Architect