When migrating files to Microsoft 365 and Office 365, an unplanned approach results in confusion and poor outcomes. Files go missing, end up in the wrong directories or are mysteriously renamed! The secret of success is to have a migration plan for moving your data into several collaborative Microsoft 365 apps.

Migration can seem so complex that a ‘lump and dump’ approach often prevails. Masses of unfiltered data ends up in one location; for example, the contents of an entire server dropped into a single document library in SharePoint.

You can avoid these data migration challenges by breaking the process down into six easy steps.

Step 1: Preparing for data migration

Firstly, identify your source, such as a drive on a file server. Then identify the collaboration apps in Microsoft 365 that will receive the data, for example OneDrive, Teams and SharePoint.

Now edit the information, deleting out-of-date files, duplicates and those that seem to have no reason for being in existence!

You now have much less data to move. But because you have looked carefully at the source, you are also clear about what it contains: data that needs archiving, user-specific data, common data ect.

Step 2: Moving personal data

Start by moving users’ personal data to their OneDrive. Ask them to do this themselves; it helps them filter out what they don’t need and familiarises them with the new storage system too.

Step 3: Moving common data

Now identify common data by function or location and move it to a Microsoft Team. In a typical on-premises file server, this data is stored in folders like ‘F:\Finance’ and ‘F:\Administration’.

These top-level shares will most likely be the name of the Team, with sub levels being channels inside that Team.

Step 4: Moving common data to a SharePoint stand-alone team

The next data to migrate is common data that belongs to a dedicated SharePoint Team site. Data that goes into stand-alone SharePoint is data that does not require chat and conversations around it (that type of data should be in Teams).

The best example of this is probably archive data: historical reference docs that won’t need updating. A major advantage of moving archive data to SharePoint is that it's searchable using tools in Microsoft 365.

Another example of a SharePoint Team site is an extranet for external parties to download data from. Having a dedicated stand-alone SharePoint Team site makes it easy to manage remote access security.

Step 5: Moving company data to a SharePoint Communication Site

The remaining data is typically company-wide data: policies, procedures, manuals. This is moved into an intranet using a SharePoint Communication Site.

This intranet is used by all staff and Microsoft Teams to add new content. For example, finance produces a budget and publishes it on the intranet for general viewing.

Step 6: Navigating your data apps

Now that you have data across several Microsoft 365 apps, you need a consistent way to navigate it.

This is where SharePoint Hub Sites come in. It’s logical and structured yet has the flexibility to be reconfigured at any point, with changes automatically applied across the hub.

Result: A different conception of data

Great technology needs to engage with staff. They have to understand it and feel comfortable using it. Microsoft 365 apps can appear confronting to the uninitiated. In addition, some migrations are done as quickly as possible so IT can ‘close the ticket’ and start the next chore. This rushed approach can result in staff frustration and a system no one understands or cares about.

Moving to Microsoft’s world of data collaboration from a passive data server model is a transformation in thinking about data and related work practices. Keeping staff engaged requires a systemic approach to data migration, a blueprint for success - as outlined in these six steps!