Guidelines to a Successful SharePoint 2016 Migration


It’s no secret that SharePoint migrations are daunting projects that require thorough consideration and thought before execution. A new version of SharePoint sees a large spike in the number of migrations, as people move forward to take advantage of the new functionalities on offer. This is especially true with SharePoint 2016, as there’s a lot of stuff to love in terms of new features. A failed migration could leave users unable to work and end up being very counterproductive, but if you put in the hard work beforehand it will ensure the process runs a lot smoother.

Let’s have a look at some of the best practices for successfully migrating to SharePoint 2016 migration:


  1.       A SharePoint content audit

In its simplest terms, a SharePoint content audit is designed to leave any outdated or unimportant content behind in the old system. You may think this is rather self-explanatory, but reducing the scope of migration is something a lot of companies’ neglect to do. Be strict with what you want to keep; the most effective way to reduce the hassle of migrating content is to migrate less.


  1.       SharePoint 2013 is a necessity

You cannot upgrade from SharePoint 2010 directly to SharePoint 2016. You must upgrade to SharePoint 2013 first. For those of you still working with 2010, don’t fret. Once you have upgraded to 2013 the process after that is less painful than you think because… Or, of course, a third-party SharePoint migration tool like Sharegate could do it directly, thus skipping the extra step.


  1.       It’s easy to migrate from 2013 to 2016

If you’re running SharePoint 2013, then you can use the “in place upgrade”, and perform a “database attach” method to upgrade to 2016. This means you first create and configure a SharePoint Server 2016 farm, and copy the content and service application databases from your 2013 farm, then attach and upgrade the databases. It’s as easy as that.


  1.       Migration Planning

Break your migration down into a series of batches or phases to coordinate the necessary resources, clarify workflows, and schedule all migration activities. Also, consider whether data cleanup is required, and if so, whether it will occur pre-migration, in-flight, or post-migration.


  1.       Testing and Validation

Validate the success of your migration based on whether or not the target environment meets the requirements of the business it supports. At this time, the results should be consistent with the results obtained during the pilot migration, and any discrepancies can be addressed. Again, you’ll repeat this step for each batch of the migration.


  1.       Hybrid SharePoint

If you’re going to take advantage of the new cloud features in 2016 (like using OneDrive for Business in the cloud), you need to fully audit what content is moving on up. Can it go to the cloud? What are the legal and audit implications for your company?


  1.       Pick a SharePoint migration strategy

In practice, there are 3 main methods of migrating content: Manual, Automated or a mixture of both.

But which one do you go for? In a perfect world, there would only be one answer to this:

  •  Automated would require no manual effort, but the extra technicalities mean it can only be determined on a case by case basis, and thus it isn’t feasible for every project.
  • Manual migration is the simplest to perform, but equally the most painful; a monotonous process of cutting and pasting and copying content.
  • So your best bet is a partially automated migration – the best of both worlds. Even if some areas are too old quality-wise, there are likely to be other areas or types of content with a greater structure that are fit for automated migration.

8. Embrace the 80/20 rule

For those not familiar with the 80/20 rule, it stands for 80% of your employees will use no more than 20% of the content on your intranet. For that reason, it’s a good idea to identify that core 20% of content, and make it the first thing you migrate over.


In the wise words of Creighton Abrams, “When eating an elephant, take one bite at a time.” While we’re not advocating anything of the sort, when you’re dealing with a lot of content, it’s best to do it slowly and carefully.

A SharePoint Migration is always an exciting, yet stressful, time. With the above considerations, you should be able to spare yourself a whole lot of trouble.


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