There is one thing that drives me absolutely crazy in my line of SharePoint consulting work. And that is when clients refer to SharePoint & Office 365 as a SharePoint Migration project. Yes, I may be an obsessive perfectionist, since I insist on certain naming conventions here. But the reality is that it is more than just a name thing. It is not about moving 20 or 120 GB of files from one location to another. It is much more elaborate and complicated than that. Let me explain.
It is not a SharePoint Migration project. It is a User Adoption Project!
Many times, behind the name, hides the attitude of the organization toward the SharePoint project. Many “old school” IT departments and executives out there tend to think about SharePoint implementation purely as an IT project. It is not! The word “migration” kind of implies the technical nature. The reality is that SharePoint Implementation is anything but a technical project. Here is the proof:
1. Technology part is done already
If you are moving to Office 365/SharePoint Online – the technical piece has already been done for you… by Microsoft. They got SharePoint installed in the cloud (on their servers). So there is nothing “technical” for you to worry about. What you are left with is SharePoint configuration, but the nature of work is not technical, but rather user-orientated, as it is further explained in points below.
2. SharePoint Information Architecture is very different from file share management
SharePoint is not about folder management and setting unique permissions for each via Active Directory. With SharePoint, it is about sites, pages, site collections, web parts, navigation, metadata, OneDrive, external sharing, etc. Before you move your first file into SharePoint, you need to design proper Information Architecture and understand the requirements of your sites.
3. Migration itself is purely a mechanical process
Migration itself is not brain surgery – from a technical standpoint, there are given techniques and migration tools that will let you achieve the objective in no time. But unless you will use your SharePoint as a file share, you need to have a really good Information Architecture in place before you plug those migration tools in and click the “Migrate” button.
4. It is all about User Adoption…
The proper name for the “SharePoint Migration” project would probably be the “SharePoint User Adoption” project. There are no cookie-cutter tools or techniques that will work for everyone all the time. Every organization is different – hence, you need to adjust your approach similarly, just like the way a psychologist adjusts the approach and spiel talking to different patients. Every organization shall evaluate different user adoption techniques, experiment with all, and choose the ones that work.
5. …and Training
As I have already stated many times in previous posts, Training is an absolute must for a successful SharePoint Implementation project. SharePoint is no DropBox. It is a very powerful and capable tool that also happens to change all the time. You need to train your users on the latest collaboration features, new processes, etc. It is quite possible your current organization might not be set up or prepared for this, but luckily, there are plenty of resources and training options available these days.