SharePoint Content Migration That Delivers ROI

by Stacy Wilson

Newly built intranets with great social tools, web-enabled business processes, sound governance, and a platform that's able to evolve can cost $1 million to $4 million to launch. Put old, outdated, inaccurate content into it, and you’ll never achieve a return on that investment.

Typical Content Migration Scenarios

Moving is hard. I get it. But there is a lot riding on this move. So, why do so many organizations fail when it comes to content migration?

First, understand the four typical content-migration scenarios:

  1. No content gets moved, limiting adoption in some situations.
  2. All the old stuff is moved; users are skeptical and untrusting of the content and refuse to adopt the new platform in meaningful ways.
  3. Departments are left entirely to themselves; three years later, migration is still in process and content is a mess.
  4. A flexible and supported migration; ensures the most important content is improved, moved, and works well; unnecessary content is archived or deleted; less important but necessary content trickles in; users adopt and flourish.

Does the last one sound like a pipe dream?

It can happen. You just have to be diligent and flexible.

3 Types of Content to Migrate

Even a little bit of content needs to migrate, but did you know there are three different types of migration?

  1. Small sets of content primarily of use to individual teams; not used outside the team
  2. Large sets of content used by all employees, in reasonably good online condition
  3. Sets of content used by all employees, in poor condition for use online; low previous usage, but valuable if used effectively

3 Content Migration Approaches

Not every piece of content warrants the same migration approach. Take a look at the migration model in Figure 1 below.

This model illustrates three different approaches based on content needs. Let’s start with the tail first. Here are four things you need to do:

  • An inventory, often captured electronically, so you know what’s there
  • Educate content owners and work to identify what can be archived/deleted
  • Plan for content that will migrate
  • Prioritize what’s migrating

Here is where the paths diverge based upon content needs:

  1. Small content sets for team use only (limited reach) go into the user-driven migration.
  2. Large content sets in good condition used by all employees go into the supported migration.
  3. Content sets in poor condition used by all employees go into the content improvement migration.

RELATED: 16 SharePoint Content Migration Questions You Need to Ask

User-driven migration. This is illustrated at the bottom of the model in Figure 1. It's the least expensive. It relies on teams and departments to get the work done. Give them an auto-migration tool to help them and a scheduled completion date.

A second and even third completion deadline is often necessary. Once you hit that final deadline, move the site into archive. Requests to save content that hasn’t already moved will be rare.

Supported migration. In Figure 1, this is the middle option. Supported migration provides some limited resources to help with migration, using an auto-migration tool.

This is more about people resources to help walk site owners through decisions about what to keep, what to pitch, and what to do with content that needs to migrate. It’s a collaborative affair to help site owners get their assignment done on time.

It’s more expensive than a migration that is totally user-driven, but not as expensive as the third option, that of migration after content improvement.

Migration after content improvement. That most expensive migration option at the top of Figure 1 focuses on improving content prior to migration. This ensures content works really well for users.

We typically reserve this effort for the most important material that all employees use. It’s the employment information from HR, or info from Finance and Procurement. It’s the safety information, sales content, or whatever is at the core of how your company does business.

RELATED: When to Archive Content

3 Migration Questions You Need to Answer

In the end, you want to shut down servers. That’s where the hardware ROI is. When it comes down to it, getting there is about answering three crucial questions:

  1. What do I archive or delete?
  2. What do I do with what needs to migrate?
  3. How do I prioritize what I have to migrate?

Answer these questions for your site owners during migration and the new site will thrive.

Stacy Wilson, ABC, Eloquor Consulting, helps companies communicate more effectively with employees in the digital workplace. Her specialty is supporting governance, usability and content improvement for digital workplaces/intranets, along with change communication for technology change such as ERP implementations. Connect with her at LinkedIn or on Twitter.

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