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Migrating to Office 365 and SharePoint online?

I recently migrated a client to Microsoft Office 365 (O365) and decided to use the modern SharePoint experience (Which I love). As with any migration project, there were a few hiccups. I thought it would be a good idea to write a refresher on some of the do’s and don’ts when migrating to O365 (or any new platform for that matter).


Your company is engaging in a new platform, treat it that way. When planning your implementation, plan according to business – not the existing SharePoint structure. The business first approach is critical. New functionality and tools like MS Teams will change the way users engage with SharePoint, and many of the features you had will no longer be available.

Trying to replicate your existing SharePoint sites could be time-consuming, expensive and will hurt the long-term adoption of the new platform. There are still scenarios that warrant leveraging old SharePoint sites but use these sparingly. Instead, focus on understanding what your users need and build according to that.

Before you go too far down the road – make sure you look at the Hub site features, limitations and how navigation works when inheriting from a Hub site.

Finally, think about what users are trying to achieve. Not all sites need Teams. The communication site has a fantastic new template if the site’s purpose is to share information with a greater audience. It’s slick, responds amazingly to mobile and is rapid to set up.

Getting to the cloud

Microsoft has migrations solutions that will handle the basics, but for this migration, I decided to try out AvePoint Fly, I was not disappointed. The tool is amazing! As with DocAve, you can set up multiple agents and migration plans to manage migration activities and run incremental migrations once the initial heavy lifting is done. All the great things we love about DocAve.

Where Fly shines is how easy it is to use. The interface is intuitive and feels “light”. Overall, I am very impressed with Fly and will use it in the future.

In more significant migrations, consider not doing a straight copy to the new sites. Instead, set up a staging area where users can grab content and incorporate it into their new fresh and flashy SharePoint spaces. Allow them to engage with the new platform and tools at their disposal – this will also get rid of the clutter. AvePoint has some fantastic tools to help this process.

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Keeping it under control

Not exclusively a migration problem, but worth discussing in this article. When users start embracing the new platform due to your fantastic change management efforts, you could face a new set of problems. Keeping control of the hundreds of Teams and Team sites that will spin up. Users have the right permissions on the structured sites, but it’s easy to set up a new Team, leave a Team and join new ones – and rightfully so. Microsoft has made it incredibly easy to collaborate with people in the organisation. You don’t want to stop your users from engaging with each other or the new platform.

Unfortunately, this can create a governance nightmare. You would want to consider developing a workflow to manage requests and analytics, to track dormant sites and Teams. Yes, Flow and PowerBI can do this with some consulting and development, or you could go with the product route. During this migration, I had the opportunity to see some of AvePoint’s cloud governance and protection tools in action. With a few clicks, we had a complete solution in place to provision teams. We gave users a few days to tell us why they created a team, back up the content and remove the team if the user did not submit a request form. This was the process we set up, but the workflows are straightforward to set up and match to suit your governance requirements.

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Finally – backups

O365 has an uptime guarantee, and Microsoft can help you restore lost content, but you need to consider your options when protecting your information. Some information may need to be backed up every few hours, while others only every week. This includes Exchange and OneDrive. You guessed it! Our friends at AvePoint include amazing tools in their cloud governance and protection program. This way, you can keep your information safe, giving you peace of mind.

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Hein Taljaard
Head of Digital
ABM Systems

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