SharePoint migration can be a very vague subject. What are we talking about? Migration of everything to the Office 365 cloud or migrating from a test to production environment? In this article I want to focus on the best practices when planning a SharePoint Site migration.
Before we start
Basic knowledge of what a SharePoint Site is will definitely help us get to our goal. I tend to assume that everyone knows SharePoint a little too quickly.
So what is a Site? Not to be confused with a web page! The Site is the container or box in which we can only put lists and libraries within SharePoint. That’s it! Think of a Site as a container for lists and libraries. So what is a web page? Nothing more than a SharePoint document inside a document library probably called “Pages”.
So now you know that you need to think of what is inside a Site when you want to migrate it. But you also need to understand that many times, people will have developed things called “Features” that attach themselves to your site to activate functionalities. These “Features” might not be available at the destination. Make sure they are before you start migrating your sites over to a new Site Collection for example.
Clean up the closet
Make sure there isn’t any dirty laundry left in your site. You know, I am talking about that list or library called “Test”, “Test2”, “test-workflow” and of course all documents or list items that no longer mean anything to you. Is there a retention policy, can you archive the SharePoint documents or even delete them? This depends a lot on your current running SharePoint platform as WSS and Foundation do not have Information Management policies to automate this for you.
Governing the migration
You’ve heard of governance for SharePoint, it’s the rules we write down to make sure our SharePoint doesn’t collaborate out of control into Site Spaghetti. If you don’t have one in place yet, make sure you do. At the very least, make sure there is a basic governance on the migration of your SharePoint platform. Who will be making the final calls? Who will be doing the work? What tools will we be using for our SharePoint migration? There are many questions to be asking and answering, otherwise you might find yourself with a migration being pulled in every direction. Every ship needs a captain, in this case the captain is Governance
The art of organizing an architecture of what is to be built at the destination to make sure what you are migrating will fit into a new SharePoint site. You need a SharePoint business analyst for this part that can tell you how many Content Types and Site Columns you will need for each site you are migrating to.
If you are migrating your content to a new site, most of the time it’s because there are new features you want to take advantage of. Make sure you re-think your Site Architecture accordingly. Not everything works with every feature in SharePoint, no matter which version you are migrating to. That’s why SharePoint consultants will always answer your question with “It depends”.
Be mindful of your site – young migrator
Ok so I gave you some quick tips for your SharePoint migration. But one of the key factors is to have someone that really knows what’s in the site and how it is used. When starting a SharePoint migration you should always have the Power Users on your side with an inventory of the sites. That’s an inventory of the sites and their content.
The steps I mentioned might seem trivial but are most often skipped or not taken seriously. This almost always ensures an unsuccessful SharePoint migration.
By Benjamin Niaulin, SharePoint Geek