5 ways a SharePoint migration can go wrong

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Most of the time, companies don’t start from scratch when they’re undertaking a new SharePoint project. There’s very often a migration involved, either from a legacy system or an older incarnation of the Microsoft platform – a prospect that typically sends shivers down the spines of the stakeholders responsible. And in fact, migrations in almost any area of IT rarely have a reputation for being anything other than a headache.

With SharePoint in particular, new implementations regularly end up in shambles because the migration wasn’t managed with due care and attention. This might pertain to planning, technical considerations, governance or training – all it takes is one missing link in the chain and the whole process can go awry, resulting in an unusable mess of an intranet. And when a company’s whole staff is supposed to be using the new platform, this isn’t often an encouraging state of affairs.

Here are five ways a SharePoint migration can go wrong. How many have you encountered? And how many have you factored into your next SharePoint project?

Lack of knowledge about SharePoint

As improbable as it seems, a lot of migrations to SharePoint are undertaken without much in the way of knowledge about the specific version of the platform being adopted. This is true of both migrations from legacy systems – in which organisations mistake SharePoint to be an off-the-shelf intranet package and don’t fully understand its features – and migrations from one version of the platform to another, which typically involve major architectural changes.

Failure to assess what you’re moving

It can be tempting to assume a SharePoint migration isn’t much more than a logistical operation: you lift resources from one repository and move them to somewhere else. This approach fails to take into account that the legacy system is most probably a mismanaged, cluttered mess!

Migration represents an opportunity to re-evaluate your SharePoint environment, assessing what works and what doesn’t, as well as to weed out erroneous and outdated data. Otherwise, you’re just going to face the same problems as before, only wrapped up in a shiny new package.

Lack of end user training and communication

It should go without saying, but for a SharePoint migration to be successful, staff training is essential. Your workforce needs to get to grips with a new software environment, which includes both the basics – the correct use of metadata, for example, and other governance issues – and any fancy workflows intended to make their jobs easier. Also, it’s important to communicate changes ahead of time, giving staff the chance to feed back on anything that affects their work.

Failure to carry out rigorous testing

As in any software project, the importance of testing is impossible to overstate. Your new SharePoint site should start its life in a dedicated testing environment before being migrated to a production one, and only once you’ve established that it meets your expectations and isn’t a bug-filled mess. Afterwards, of course, you should emphasise to end users that it’s their responsibility to report issues, as well as ensure you have the resources available to address any teething troubles.

Attempting to move everything at once

Finally, there’s no better way to guarantee a SharePoint migration fails than to attempt to do everything at once. Instead, tackle changes one by one and, if possible, involve end users every step of the way so they can test the new features and let you know what works.

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