5 tips for planning your fileshare migration

When organisations choose SharePoint as their new document management platform, they already have tons of documents in their old system. Most likely, some, if not all documents need to be migrated to that new platform. When organisations choose SharePoint as their new document management platform, they already have tons of documents in their old system. Most likely, some, if not all documents need to be migrated to that new platform.

As always, planning is key! With these 5 tips you can plan ahead and get that migration done.

1.Define what needs to be migrated

Are all documents going to be migrated ? What about that lunch menu document from 5 years ago?What about the support documents of the application that is no longer being used? A good cleanup can do wonders for your document management, such as:
– Less diskspace (and less costs)
– Better sorting through data and search
– Less errors made by using old data

This works best if every piece of content get an owner. Give ownership on folders and subfolders to lighten the load on your analysis and get people’s buy-in.
Golden tip: It might be that you don’t have time (or budget) to do the cleanup beforehand, but make it a habit to do so afterwards. Like a good spring cleaning in the house, a cleanup of your old and retired documents can be both satisfying and bring value to the organisation. Content has a lifecycle, just as anything else.

2. Plan for the future with sites

Migrating your documents is one thing. After the system is filled up, people need to continue working on these files and create new documents too. Plan a good site structure.
Also make time to prepare the experience. How will users log on? How will they search and find the right files?This could be done by crafting persona’s , a technique widely used to come up with the relevant user stories.These user stories will define the experience your end users will have with the system. If you plan this ahead, you can shape the training they need (because training should always be just in time and just enough).

Double check if the technical scenario’s work too: does everyone have the OneDrive For Business client to sync offline? Is the record center or archiving solution working?

3.Migrate permissions

Let’s face it. Your fileshare that has been used for 10 years probably doesn’t fit all requirements anymore for security. Well, good news! Now is the time to revisit that! Who had access to this content ? Who should have? And who shouldn’t? Will they still need it?Don’t make the mistake of adding people manually to a file on a name basis. That attitude will get you back to where you are coming from: a big security mess.Define some common governance rules around security: good practices are creating groups for every hierarchical team, both horizontal and vertical (yes, all R&D teamleaders should be a group as well)

4.Waving goodbye to folders: Define your document types and metadata

Define how you want to sort, filter, group or search on these files. How do you want them to appear?
A good way to do this is by defining your business processes. Documents can only support these processes. Otherwise they don’t need to exist. This way, you can visualize the route your information makes and can optimize where necessary.

Golden tip: Use a tool so that your created date and created by doesn’t changeThis way you can still see who created that document at what time. These metadata might be very important when weeding out old files or checking if a document is still valid.

5.Communication drives user adoption

Announce the date when the drive will be set to read only. Make sure that people know when they need to start working on the new system.Also, make other people in the organisation aware that the change is happening and if you are still on course. This will help with excitement around the project.


If you want to know more about migrating fileshares, you are always free to contact me or the people over at Bloom.report for more info or practical guidance.

About: Marijn

Marijn Somers (MVP) has over 14 years experience in the SharePoint world, starting out with SP2007. Over the years the focus has grown to Office 365, with a focus on collaboration and document management. He is a business consultant at Balestra and Principal Content Provider for "Mijn 365 Coach" that offers dutch employee video training. His main work tracks are around user adoption, training and coaching and governance. He is also not afraid to dig deeper in the technicalities with PowerShell, adaptive cards or custom formatting in lists and libraries. You can listen to him on the biweekly "Office 365 Distilled" podcast.