Migrating SharePoint from OnPremise to Online

SharePoint is a platform that exists in various versions: SharePoint Online and SharePoint OnPremise. Whichever version you intend to use should be strictly determined by what business problems you are trying to solve. Some developers still don’t get this, and therefore they attribute most of their failures to features they cannot find in a particular SharePoint version.

Telling you the exact features you are likely to find in the different SharePoint versions is a story for another day. You should just know that SharePoint is as good as any other content management system that is out there. Hence, understanding the exact problem you are trying to solve is a right place to start if you are considering using SharePoint.

Having said all this, the focus of this post is to help you discover how you can successfully carry out your migration from one version of SharePoint to another, from SharePoint OnPremise to SharePoint Online specifically.

So, for anyone who plans to engage in this exercise of data migration between SharePoint versions, having this information on hand at all times is going to help ensure success in this endeavor.

The following will be a detailed explanation of those steps that can help you achieve a successful data migration from SharePoint OnPremise to SharePoint Online.

Analyzing the Current SharePoint Environment

| SharePoint migration revolves around three major areas: content, structure, and people.

Before you decide on what type of migration strategy will be best for you, it advises that you take an extensive look at what content you have in your current SharePoint environment. You can start by excluding old content to lessen your migration workload to your new SharePoint environment. That in a way gives you a sense of direction on how to go about the process. After successfully analyzing content, you should be able to determine the type of customizations you have in your existing SharePoint environment. That is crucial because it will contribute to some of the features that will have to enable on the new platform.

The moment you have established in the situation of your current SharePoint environment, you can now go ahead and design a roadmap that will comprise all the customizations and content you intend to migrate as well as how you intend to achieve your migration. Another way to put it is like having a blueprint of what you intend to migrate, coupled with how you want to get it done.

For every customization that has been chosen to migrate, you will need to know if you are going to replicate that same functionality in your SharePoint Online environment. If your customizations are part of an in-house solution, you will need to determine if you have the resources to upgrade the code to the new SharePoint version. If your customizations come from 3rd party solutions, then you will need to do some research and find out if they have upgraded the application for the new SharePoint version, and if there are additional costs involved.

Migration Methods

After you have done with including your content and customizations into your roadmap, the very next thing to do is the migration itself. However, migration is not straightforward. Executing your migration requires that you exhibit some level of technical discipline in your approach.

Before proceeding with the migration, you should first understand that there are various migration methods you can use to get the job done. We are going to take a careful look at these different migration tools.

  • Microsoft® fast track service is an excellent migration method for getting your data to the cloud.
  • Use of the SPO migration API. How this works is that you use the said API to create migration import jobs to SharePoint Online or Office 365. These import jobs will be processed later by a separate timer job after they must have been queued.
  • Windows PowerShell cmdlets for migration is also another excellent choice for migrating content from SharePoint OnPremise to SharePoint Online.
  • There are also alternatives to make use of third-party tools like Sharegate. If you are looking for a simplified way of getting your migration done, then this can be a prudent choice.

You can only choose between these various migration tools if you have been able to establish that your chosen device measures up with your migration requirements, as well as whether it completely supports the content you are about to migrate.

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Migrating Structure

The structure of the new SharePoint environment is fundamental that it cannot be taken for granted. Taking your SharePoint structure into consideration does not mean you have to come up with anything that is complicated. That is because one of the reasons for your migration is to ensure a better user experience with the SharePoint Online platform by enhancing collaboration and all other features that come with the product.

You can consider your migration process to be on the right track when you are making use of a straightforward site structure. Make sure you are putting your contents in the appropriate sections. For instance, the left navigation section, also known as quick launch should be there for holding up items that are responsible for opening up other pages.

After placing your content on the site, it’s time to design the taxonomy. There are several types of site taxonomy like flat, hierarchical, network and facet taxonomy. As per the business context, you have to develop & test the taxonomy of the site. The critical thing here is to make sure you are not doing anything to hamper the site’s UI and its functionality, as doing that may defeat the very purpose of your migration.

Obtaining Better User Adoption

For a complete success in SharePoint migration, you need to make sure you are leaving nothing to chance. Failure to do this may end up ruining the entire process, even after a successful migration. Therefore you will need to ensure that people are equally carried along. It is possible that the people are already familiar with the previous SharePoint OnPremise environment, and when this happens, it becomes a bit of a problem to get used to the new Office 365 environment automatically.

There are various things you can do to help the people get used to the new SharePoint Online environment. Outlined below will be some of the things you can do to help others get used to the new platform.

  • Get Your Team on Board– It is good you make them aware of what your plans are before you commence the migration. That alone will help them adapt quickly to the new environment because they already have their minds prepared for the change.
  • Get The Required Support – Getting the support of the people that matter in the organization is also going to help your goal. This way, they don’t get to revolt against the system inappropriately.
  • Training – For everyone to move at the same frequency with the new SharePoint Online environment, you will need to conduct some training, or you could just put up some posters at strategic locations in the office that explain how the system works. That will help a lot.
  • Cut-Off Date – This is like the final nail in the coffin. Whatever measures you have taken to ensure that people get moved successfully to the SharePoint Online environment have to be capped with this. Give them a strict date to end the use of the old SharePoint environment.

Completing all the steps above may seem unnecessary or excessive to some, but remember, people are sometimes hesitant to changes, and you want to guarantee that your whole team is on board with your new SharePoint environment.

SharePoint Online Migration: Dos and Don’ts

Here are some quick tips that could prove to be vital during your migration process.

  • Do ensure to use the right migration tool
  • Do not migrate your content with low bandwidth.
  • Do have a realistic timeline for your migration.
  • Have your user authentication set up before you commence migration
  • Inform your team way ahead of time about the changes they should be expecting
  • Don’t move irrelevant content during the process of migration
  • Don’t leave migration to the IT professionals alone because content planning and strategy should be a business function.

With the execution of the steps mentioned above, your chances of running into any problems within the migration period will reduce to the barest minimum.


This checklist contains a step-by-step guide to ensure complete success during your SharePoint migration from OnPremise to SharePoint Online. It has been sub-divided into three different phases: pre-migration, during migration and post-migration.

To successfully execute the migration process, you must ensure that these things are done in their respective order to obtain the maximum benefit for you.

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