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SharePoint migration tool

How to find the right SharePoint migration tool

If you Google “SharePoint migration tool” you’ll get a few results that look interesting. Microsoft’s free tool, for example, as well as a variety of paid options with broader capabilities.

The truth is, finding SharePoint migration tools has never been the challenge. The real difficulty lies in weighing up the pros and cons of each to select the right option for your specific migration project. This can be a complicated – and highly nuanced – process that is much easier with first-hand knowledge of the tools under consideration.

Having worked with all the major contenders, these are the lessons we’ve learned and tips we can share.

Pro tip: It’s easy to get caught up in tool selection and forget the importance of migration planning and preparation. These critical stages can be far more complex than the relatively straightforward process of actually moving your data from A to B. Having them nailed down early also makes tool selection a lot quicker and easier.

When can you use the Microsoft SharePoint migration tool?

If you’re migrating from SharePoint On-Premises to SharePoint Online – and have limited customisation – Microsoft’s SharePoint migration tool (SPMT) may be all that you need. It can’t be used to migrate OneDrive or Teams, however, and large document libraries and/or site collections are challenging with the built-in file size limitations.

What other (viable) SharePoint migration tools are available?

ShareGate, AvePoint and ProvenTeq all offer excellent SharePoint migration tools with more advanced functionality than the free SPMT tool provided by Microsoft.

How do you choose the right tool?

We’ve worked with all of the SharePoint migration tools listed above (and more) and can confidently say there is no silver bullet – they each have their own strengths and weaknesses. These need to be analysed in the context of your migration requirements to determine the best fit for your needs.

We can help. But if you’d like to go it alone, here’s what you’ll need to do:

How do you choose the right tool?

The more you know about your data, its sources, and its targets, the greater your ability to judge whether or not a tool can provide the capabilities your migration needs.

Make sure you have a clear picture of the data types, formats, volumes and locations you’ll be working with, as well as the characteristics of your target environment, including performance, security and compatibility.

Pro Tip: When planning a migration, don’t overlook the size of your site collection databases. Keeping these under 200GB is a smart move for an easier migration.

Assess the quality of your data and its governance

It’s important to understand the quality of your data before and after a migration to ensure that your data governance and security standards are upheld. Your choice of migration tool may vary depending on what you find during these investigations.

Compare the capabilities of each migration tool

Every SharePoint migration tool has its own strengths and weaknesses. Comparing these against each other, and your own migration context, will quickly narrow down the field of contenders. Consider things like:

    • Price point/value for money
    • Features/capabilities
    • User-friendliness
    • Migration speed
    • Versatility for future use cases (scalability, multiplatform compatibility etc.)
    • Zero-loss guarantees
    • Protections for data in transit
    • Customisation capabilities
    • Level of detail included in reports and logs
    • Customer support standards and reputation

Clarify your migration strategy and methodology

Some migration tools work well for a “big bang” migration, while others are better suited to phased or parallel migrations. Your choice of migration methodology – AGILE, waterfall etc.

– may also influence your choice of migration tool.

Pro Tip: With Microsoft’s push towards cloud-centric environments, remember to think carefully about what needs to stay on premises and what can be moved to the cloud.

Test, test and test again

Testing is a vital component of every successful migration. Make sure your chosen tool has robust testing and reporting capabilities that offer planning and execution quality control and issue resolution.

What else needs to be considered for a SharePoint migration?

There are some other important elements to consider beyond the technical components of the actual migration. These include:

Content management

It’s always a good idea to clean house before a move. In SharePoint migration terms, that means organising your content, performing ROT analysis to remove unnecessary data, and creating robust data lifecycle management policies that can be carried through to the target environment to avoid data “clutter” reforming down the line.

Security

Security settings in your source and target environments may not be exact equivalents. That makes it important to review security as part of migration planning in order to successfully recreate (or, ideally, improve) the spirit, if not the letter, of those original settings.

User adoption and training

Even the smoothest migration would be considered a failure if users fail to navigate the shift to the new environment. Effective change management with a focus on user adoption and training is critical to preserve productivity during and after the migration.

Top tips from our experts - SharePoint migration pitfalls to watch out for

Broken Links

Documents, pages, lists, libraries etc. can all have imbedded links that point to locations within your old environment. There are ways to repair these on a global level, but it’s also a good idea to include manual file path correction in users’ migration change management training.

Missing metadata

It can be easy for metadata to be lost in a migration if its preservation isn’t explicitly planned for in advance. Having a clear inventory of your content before you start helps.

SharePoint Limitations

SharePoint, while a powerful tool for collaboration and document management, comes with notable limitations that you should consider. Its complexity requires significant technical expertise for proper setup and maintenance, and tailoring SharePoint to meet your specific needs may require custom development. These limitations highlight the importance of thorough planning and resource allocation when considering SharePoint for business solutions.

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