Migrating Process Oriented Documents
One of the challenges with SharePoint projects is content migration. It can be a daunting task with both technical and human challenges. This post discusses a five step methodology for migrating content from a file server into SharePoint.
This strategy revolves around identifying the documents that will be migrated based on the business value they bring rather than a “big bang” approach.
Experience tells us that once people start working with SharePoint, their idea of how it will work best for them evolves. For this reason, we advocate starting with a pilot content set rather than trying to tackle the entire file server in a weekend.
Step 1: Decide what to migrate
Choosing the documents to migrate first is a key part of this strategy. This needs to be achievable and of value. If the set of documents is large or complex to migrate then issues will be magnified. If the documents are of low value then no one will care.
Business process centric documents are a good place to start. These documents are produced as part of a business process and will (hopefully) be stored in one place on the file server. It is also generally easy to identify who uses the documents. It is also easy to place a value on these documents.
Conversely, choosing to migrate all the documents for a group of users, is going to be difficult. These documents could be high value for the owners, but most other people probably won’t benefit from the migration.
If the document is produced from an external system e.g. an ERP system ask, “Do these documents need to be stored in SharePoint?” If the ERP is the source of truth, then storing a second copy in SharePoint may not be necessary.
Step 2: Define your rules
Not all documents have the same requirements from compliance, legal or business process perspective. Agree on and document your standards:
- How long do you need to keep these documents?
- What meta-data do you want to record about these documents?
- What security requirements do the documents have?
- Is versioning necessary and if so how many versions?
- Do these documents need approval before publishing?
- Who owns these documents?
Your file server will be full of documents but do they all need to be migrated? Think about your business requirements and whether you migrate:
- All documents
- Documents created in the last X months
- Leave existing documents on the file server, but create new ones in SharePoint
Make sure these rules are documented and agreed by your key stakeholders.
As part of this step you may be faced with some decision around organising content in Document Libraries. See our Metadata vs Folders post for more details.
Step 3: Test the theory
Test the system with a small but representative sub-set of the documents. Make any adjustments and test again until the “owners” are happy with the configuration.
Your test should include the following:
- Security on the Document Library
- Check out/in status – compulsory meta-data can result in documents being checked out when they are uploaded
- Other settings including approval, versioning and any workflow.
Step 4: Migration
Now you have defined what it is you will migrate, the migration rules and tested the process, it is time to do it for real.
Before you begin…let your SharePoint Admin know what you are about to do. Bulk copying files can impact other users in SharePoint and consumes space on the SharePoint database servers.
Rather than uploading files one at a time, try using Drag and Drop or Explorer view to transfer files (maximum of 100 documents at a time). Keep in mind the limitations of SharePoint document libraries, by default the limit is 5000 documents in a library or a folder within a library. Folders can be used to increase the number of items in a library however you should consider other factors such as security, navigation and search before using folders.
Note that upload performance can be slow, especially if the SharePoint server is being accessed across a relatively low speed connection.
Step 5: Review and Repeat
Now that you have completed the migration of your first business processes documents, review the process, make any adjustments and repeat for the next set of documents.
Document migration is labour intensive. Create a roadmap for migration. Break migration tasks into a series of time-boxed sub-tasks will help keep the migration team on task and moving towards the end goal in an organised way.
Migrating everything else
This is the first blog in our series on document migration. In our next post we will talk about migrating collections of loosely related documents. Following on from this we will cover topics including migrating content between test and production, onsite to the cloud and integrating with other systems.
Uploading Documents in to SharePoint