No-stress content migration

Don’t let the fear of content migration hold you back from a timely intranet upgrade

With support for SharePoint Server 2010 coming to an end, many organizations are facing the time crunch to upgrade to SharePoint online. Migrating to a new environment can seem like an overwhelming task – and one that often gets pushed out farther as other priorities compete for time, money and resources.

We get it – it’s a big job. You may have a mountain of content in varying states, or even over multiple legacy sites. Some pages may be actively updated by your content authors, while others have languished, abandoned by someone who moved on from their position years ago. Intranets tend to sprawl over time and can become unwieldy, even with the most thoughtful governance plan. 

But people depend on the information available on the intranet to do their daily jobs, so it’s important for it to live on a stable, supported platform. Your intranet also has the potential to drive exceptional employee experiences in your organization through connection, collaboration and culture. 

So, don’t put it off! Instead, plan your strategy, mobilize your team, and pick the right partners, so you can migrate your content with confidence.

Find the right resources

After designing and building over 250 intranets, we’ve learned that the right resources and support make all the difference. Before you start planning your content migration, make sure you have these key players in place:

  • Content lead – Choose someone who can take the reins and oversee the process to make sure all content is created, reviewed and approved on time.
  • Team of content reviewers – In every organization, there’s usually a group of people who like cleaning up content and writing for the web. Seek them out early and tap into their interest and engagement.
  • Strong tech partner – Whether it’s your in-house IT department or an external team, you’ll be best supported by a partner who knows the ins and outs of content migration, can anticipate and mitigate risks, and strategize for an efficient and smooth transition to your new platform.

Get to know your content

The best way to get started is to conduct a content audit, which will give you a sense of the size, scope and state of your current intranet. This is a great opportunity to clean up and streamline the information for your new intranet to make sure you migrate only relevant, useful and necessary information to your new site.

The great thing about content cleanup is that it will still benefit your existing  intranet, so you can start it any time. 

Set your priorities

To make a large audit manageable, set some filters to help you figure out what to keep and what to archive or delete:

  • Leverage your analytics – Sort your content by page views. Your analytics will tell you what employees are looking for and where they are spending the most time. Analytics can give you an idea of what your employees find most valuable and help you make decisions.
  • Prioritize owned content – Note which pages have an active owner and which lie unclaimed. If no one is actively managing the content, it may be time to get rid of it.
  • Look for ROT (redundant, outdated, trivial) content – If content is repeated in multiple places, or is inaccurate or no longer relevant, it might need to be revised or discarded altogether.

Flag special content that may impact migration

When conducting your audit, make note of any out-of-the-ordinary content or functionality that may need special consideration on the new site. Bring these items forward to your tech team early in the process so everyone has time to plan for their integration.

Examples include

  • Applications, such as parking payment, embedded on a page in an iframe
  • Custom functionality, like a benefit form, built into a specific page using scripts

Managing the review process

When planning your migration, allow plenty of time for the content review and approval process. To a content lead, it may be clear to see when we need to remove a page that is not meeting employees’ needs, but content owners might have a different idea. The review process is an opportunity to bring content owners and others in the organization on board with the research findings, to understand their content goals and processes, and work together to simplify the information landscape for everyone.

Map content to your new site

Once your content audit is complete, the current state can be mapped against the information architecture (IA) for your new intranet. To map your content, create a spreadsheet with the following details:

  • URL of your current intranet page
  • New URL (from your proposed IA)
  • Page layout
  • Any notes to apply to the specific page  

Mapping your content will highlight any gaps that exist between the current intranet and the new site structure. The content team can then review and discuss the gaps and outline a plan to address them, including assigning ownership of the content to be created and estimating effort to create the new content.

The sooner you can map your content, the better. Your content team will appreciate getting a head start on the review and approvals process and on creating any new content that is needed. However, the key component of the map is a finalized IA, which can be tricky to nail down, as it’s going through its own review and approval process. It’s helpful to keep this in mind and hold the expectation that both the IA and the content map will evolve and need to be updated over the course of the project.

Automation and iteration

Once you’ve mapped your content, you’ll need to think about how you can automate your migration effort. Automated processes can cut effort and time of migration significantly. The key is to find patterns in your site’s pages and evaluate the right tool for the job.
Migration tool such as AvePoint, ShareGate, and Metalogix or custom automated scripts will often make the migration effort quicker and less expensive.
At Habanero, we have developed a number of scripts and modules to deploy and manage traditional intranet content in our GO SharePoint Office 365 intranet. When it comes to a large content migration, we are able to leverage these tried-and-true scripts to make the process easier and add a level of confidence.
Examples of automation scripts include: 
  • Migrating all mapped content from your old site to a new environment
  • Sending un-mapped pages to an archive
  • Fixing in-line reference links in page content
  • Validating mapping file before migration

With these and other automated scripts, you can migrate to SharePoint Online efficiently and strategically to minimize manual effort. There’s no need to fear the mountain of content when you have the support and resources to help your SharePoint migration.

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