blog.frederique.harmsze.nl my world of work and user experiences

November 30, 2018

Getting our users on board in the migration to SharePoint Online – a checklist

Filed under: SharePoint — Tags: — frederique @ 23:56

I am involved in a migration project, to move thousands of sites from SharePoint 2007 to SharePoint Online. There is the technical aspect to it, but I am mostly concerned in how we can get our users on board. Give them the benefits of the upgrade to new tools that meet their needs better, whilst mitigating the hassle of the actual migration and change.

I have talked about the question what you should migrate, in what form and in which order in a previous post. Now here’s an annotated version of the 15 point checklist I use in the actual migrations.

1.Determine the migration scenario

Do you want to migrate the sites as they were, or only the content? To what template? With what mapping of the metadata? And what about the permissions? We have different scenarios for different situations. For example, archive sites, project sites and department sites for different business units, which have different source templates and different needs.

2.Test the results of the migration factory

Once you have the scenario, test it in a trial migration of a representative set of sites before you ask the business users to test anything. We have seen some unexpected results in early attempts, so we have learned to invest the time in these tests, to make sure the business users don’t trip over these problems. We keep track of all the sites and their migration status and the issues in SharePoint lists.

3.Involve the key users

Talk to the business about their needs, what do they think is still relevant from the old sites, what do they want with the new sites. And ask some key users to check the sites you migrated. After you have weeded out the errors.

4.Plan the final migration of live sites outside office hours

You need a content freeze for the migration. No problem for archive sites, because nobody is actively using them. But for active sites, you need to minimize the time users cannot work in these sites. Our solution is to migrate the bulk of the content while they work, and then do an incremental migration to update the content over a weekend. Plan the migration weekend with the business, to try and suit their calendars.

5.Communicate beforehand what will happen

Some people take any changes in their stride, but others really want know beforehand what will happen. So make sure all users are aware of the upcoming migration. Communicate, for example via the intranet and/or email:

  • Which sites will be migrated (for example, project sites or department sites) and to which environment they will be migrated. Hopefully they have already heard something about the new environment, like the rollout of Office 365 with SharePoint Online and you can refer to that.
  • What do they have to do. For example, stop using the old sites Friday before 18:00, park files locally if they have to work during the migration weekend, on Monday reconnect their Outlook plug-in to the new address, and check if all of their content was moved over correctly.
  • How are you going to help them. For example, provide them with a user manual, an email address and phone number they can contact, and in-house support on the day after the migration.
  • Who they can contact if they have questions now or later. If you send the message by email, send it from the mailbox they can contact.

Also, make sure you tell the key users, secretaries and other influences what will happen, so that they can answer any questions their colleagues may ask them and prod them in the right direction.

6.Check which sites need special attention

We are migrating department sites at the end of the year. So the Finance people started to panic, because this is their busiest time and they do not want anything to interrupt their work. We reassured them that the old sites remain available in read-only mode; they can always still find the information there. And we take extra care when we migrate their sites. We also pay special attention to sites that have a lot of traffic, like sites that are included in the main navigation of the intranet.

  • Test if the content has been migrated properly. We cannot test every single site that is migrated, but we make sure to test these high priority sites.
  • Check the permissions: can they all still read and contribute the same as in the old site?
  • Are the start page, the site menu and the views in the lists and libraries correct and clear? We migrate from an on-premises environment that can handle view of over 5000 items to an online environment where such views may break.

7.Fix the glitches like overweight views

We migrate from an on-premises environment that can handle view of over 5000 items to an online environment where such views may break. So when we migrate large sites, we have some views that give an error instead of a list of items or documents, sometimes even default views, This would freak out the users, so we make sure we fix those views with filters based on indexed columns. Fortunately, we can do this before the migration weekend, once the bulk migration has been performed – because we already index the relevant columns in the site template.

8.Arrange for the update of links to the migrated sites

In this round, we are migrating some department sites that are connected to their intranet via static hyperlinks. In a previous round, we migrated project sites that were linked to CRM. These links need to be updated. We do not own that intranet or the CRM environment, but we do not want our users to hit dead links. So we asked around and found the managers of those systems who could update the links.

9.Provide an entry point to the new sites

The users have to know where they can find and access their new ‘digital homes’. We have done that in different ways.

  • When we had reliable list of owners for each site, and owners we could trust to inform their members, we sent the owners a mail with their URL (using a mail merge on our list of sites and owners). However, in most cases our governance failed in the past, and we don’t have a reliable site owner.
  • For the migration of a large number of project sites, we told the users to access their new sites from CRM, because that already was their preferred entry point and we could update the site links in CRM.
  • For another migration, we pointed the users to a site overview page with a search option where they could find their site. And we gave them the tip to Follow that site when they have found the new address.

10.Offer help materials

Our users need to take some actions after the migration, like reconnecting their Outlook plug-in to the migrated sites. You need to give them instructions on how to do that. Also, they have to learn how to use the new SharePoint Online environment. Most of it is intuitive enough, but not everything and now for everyone. So you need to give them a user manual and tips on that.

Offer them a single point of entry for all of these help materials. If you use a SharePoint site for this, you can update the information as you experience the migration and hear the questions that can come up. But be aware that some users will print put all of the materials as soon as you send them the link, so make that first version a serious one.

11.Send a message before the migration starts

If you have published a message on the intranet about the start of your migration, you cannot assume that everyone has seen it. So send an email Friday afternoon. Make it short and to the point, and put the key message in the Email subject: stop working in your department site before 18:00.

12.Run a script to compare the number of items in the old and the new sites

After the incremental migration to update the latest additions and changes in the migrated sites, the number of items in the source and the target should be the same. Unless the users have deleted files from the source file and the incremental migration cannot take that into account.

We had a script to compare the number of items automatically, and at the end of the migration weekend is the time to run it. In one round of migrations we forgot to run the script at that time and only ran it after the first day the migrated sites had gone live. But by then there were many discrepancies, especially when users got enthusiastic about the new options…

13.Make sure the old sites are locked after the migration

After the final migration to the new sites, users should not add or edit anything on the old sites anymore. Yes, this is obvious. But no, this does not always turn out well. We have had a glitch in the script, so that people were still able to work in the old sites. And of course these people had not paid attention to the communication.

So you need to double check that these sites are locked down in read-only mode, to allow the users to check the migration but force them to move to the migrated sites.

14.Send a message after it has finished

After you have finished the migration, make it perfectly clear to the users that they have to switch to their newly migrated site now, where they can find it, what they have to do now, and where they can find help. Put in on the intranet, send an email, tell all the key users and secretaries. This is not the time to be stingy with your communication.

15.Arrange for support on the day after the migration

There are always some issues or at least questions after a migration: where is my site, I’ve lost some documents, how do I connect the new site to my Outlook plug-in, … Try to be at their offices, to give them personal attention. Pay attention to the details when you arrange it, especially if “strangers” are to help out in this matter: who should be where and when, who is the host at that location and what are their contact details.

 

This weekend we are migrating the department sites of one of our more prolific business units. And yes, we use the checklist, specified for the migration at hand. In OneNote, with checkboxes to indicate what we have already completed. Check.

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