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Three key steps before migrating files into SharePoint/Office 365

17th Jun 2015

So you have your new SharePoint or Office 365 site and are ready to go. You want to get set up so you can work online and set about migrating the files which are on your network drive. Before you rush away and migrate everything that you currently have, pause and consider the following.

Below are 3 key points to keep in mind when migrating or thinking about migrating to SharePoint.

Step 1 – Planning
This stage involves identifying:

• Project Scope – What data is out there? Share areas, existing dedicated systems ?
• Business Requirements – What processes, workflows and permissions need to be considered ?
• Project Objectives – Realistic end results which can be achieved and managed.
• Minimise Risk – Ensuring potential back up of data pre migration, step by step document processes which have been approved.
• Change Management – Change is hard, but clear communication and understanding of the purpose of the project is key in both implementation and operational stages. Impact on business must be measured and tracked at each stage.

Step 2 – Cleansing
Often when we are talking about migrating data from shared drives and other legacy systems there it is possible that much of the data identified might not be required to be migrated. The usual reasons are :

• Duplicate data – This is mostly cause by the creation of folders and sub folders which have the same documents contained within them. This is usually the main problem for companies who have large sized servers that are mounting up every year. Its common that eventually these areas become dumping grounds of people’s files and old projects. So duplication and latest versions of documents is one of the key objectives of the data cleansing stage.
• Obsolete data – Not all documents need to be kept forever, retention periods and information management policies should be in place to ensure that documents no longer legally required to be kept should be deleted to ensure that areas are kept clean and more accessible. Creating and implementing a retention procedure for documents is a key process when looking to maintain documents in SharePoint going forward.
• No business purpose – Personal files in these areas such as music, pictures and other personal information should be identified and not migrated. This creates a security problem not just for the business but also for the persons whom the personal information and data belong to.
Having a good clear out of these types of data is invaluable and ensures that data migrated is of value to the business. Also this stage in the process enables document owners to be identified and responsible for data, this is an important part of the process not just in migration but also for the design and operating stages.


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Step 3 – Existing Data identifiers

Important in the analysis process is also to identify some of the observations below, even within unstructured environments. These will eventually be built in to the term stores and content types in the SharePoint system.

• Document Types – Reports, drawings, procedures for example are all types of documents which a business will create. The document types will potentially play an important role in the content types and meta data used to identify and catalogue them. Look for consistency to the types of documents which are created and in which functions.
• Functions/Disciplines – There are the areas which make up the business. For example engineering and marketing. Different documents and processes will be in use and will need to be captured and measured.
• Locations – Documents come from all types of locations around the world within a company or with 3rd party and vendor company’s. This is a key process of pre migration as it may involve multi regional and legislation processes.
• Matrixes and workflows – Who reviews and approves documentation. Distribution matrixes both internal and external should be built in to the design of the site collections for the migrated data.
• Issue dates – This again will tie in to the retention of documents and knowing when documents were last issued will allow for the system to identify documents that potentially may be deleted due to their life cycle coming to an end.
• Document Numbering – Multi functions might have different numbering systems in place, either by region or perhaps by function. Identifying this in the analysis will ensure the correct numbering identifies can be built in to the metadata going forward. It may also be the case that no numbering actually exists, which in turn might raise the need for some type of unique life cycle numbering to documentation.
• Different versions/revisions – Tracking audit and change history is a key requirement for document control, being able to capture the superseded documents from the current approved one should also be highlighted and measured in this process.

These 3 initial steps will be invaluable for identify scope, what needs cleansed and the existing structure of the data.
Contact us at if you need help with SharePoint/Office 365 in your organization.

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