Home / Office 365: Don’t Just Migrate – Take a Closer Look

Is your company thinking about migrating its existing on premise SharePoint to Office 365?

While not a bad idea, it may not be enough.

Historically, a SharePoint migration from one version to another generally consisted of replicating as much of your existing structure, data, processes, and even customizations as the newer version would allow. The idea was to gain benefits associated with the newer version with minimal disruption to the business and without the need to re-think or re-architect solutions. After all, it’s not like you’re moving to a completely different vendor, or even platform. While this might be known as an upgrade for most other software, SharePoint has earned the coveted migration status due to the complexity and effort required when moving to a new version. (The process of skipping a version is known to others by many names, but none worth repeating here.)

When it comes to SharePoint and Office 365, now is the time to stop thinking in terms of an upgrade or migration, and instead start thinking in terms of transformation .

The Office 365 landscape has changed dramatically over the past few years and continues to do so at an unprecedented rate. This includes changes to SharePoint Online. It’s important to familiarize yourself with things like modern vs. classic experience, new team sites vs. old team sites, communication sites vs. publishing sites, Add-Ins vs. SPFx, and so much more, not to mention the potential impact on your organization from things like Office 365 Groups, Microsoft Flow, PowerApps, Planner, StaffHub, the entire Office suite, and the integration between these and beyond.

Your organization might be considering a migration to Office 365 as-is and want to postpone anything “new” until later, post-migration. In other words, taking the traditional approach. I’d suggest that if you’re going to go through the pain of a migration anyway (yes, it’s probably going to hurt some), take some time to understand the long term effects of that decision. How might users react to a mix of classic vs. modern pages? Would switching to a communication site to disseminate information to the organization make it more engaging to users and responsive on mobile devices straight out of the box? Would the organization realize an increase in communication, collaboration, and productivity with Microsoft Teams?

Office 365 has the potential to transform your business…the way it communicates, collaborates, shares information, and integrates with other systems. If your goal is to eliminate hardware and real estate without taking advantage of the new platform, consider avoiding a migration and instead moving your servers to the cloud to accomplish your goal. If you’re doing it for the benefits of Office 365, then make sure you’re doing exactly that.

Admittedly, this isn’t a typical blog post from me as I generally try to provide a complete solution to a business problem or resolution to an issue, and this one contains way more questions than it does answers. However, many organizations will regret not having given the forethought and planning to realize the full (or even partial) potential of SharePoint and Office 365. You wouldn’t migrate to an entirely new platform just to ignore its benefits, and making the move to Office 365 is no exception.

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