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How to achieve a successful Microsoft Teams migration

Thu, 13th Jan 2022
FYI, this story is more than a year old

Increasing numbers of organisations are finding that migrating to Microsoft Teams can be complex, difficult and sometimes less than entirely successful. The application requires careful planning to limit tenant sprawl and content chaos.

Ascending numbers of mergers and acquisitions are affecting the rising tide of remote work, creating a perfect storm for IT pros, and presenting Teams migration challenges.

When there are no pre-migration processes in place for a collaboration tool like Teams, things can quickly get out of control.

It is essential to take time to understand the specific headaches of migrating Teams data from one tenant to another so that migration has a much better chance to go smoothly. Step one is to proactively address the issues of both Teams sprawl and content chaos.

At present, many Office 365 customers are feeling the pain of Teams sprawl. Sprawl is the uncontrolled growth of outdated, duplicated or never-used data. The overwhelming accumulation of irrelevant information made possible by Teams can cause massive problems for information technology administrators.

Sprawl has two root causes: the sheer number of interactions that occur on Teams daily and a lack of data governance policies for managing the content produced by those interactions.

Teams' growth during the pandemic has been explosive. As of July 2021, Microsoft reported that Teams had over 250 million monthly users. The understandable rush to 'get it done quickly without prioritising governance' is the primary reason why many organisations are dealing with so much sprawl right now.

Teams content chaos

Unfortunately, sprawl is tightly coupled with content chaos, a situation that occurs when no one really knows where content is being stored or who has permission to access specific types of data. When there's content chaos in play, it becomes easier for disgruntled employees to move sensitive data from private to public channels.

Increasing the chaos, many loyal employees save documents locally and share them that way because they're unfamiliar with Teams or don't trust using it. Unfortunately, this negates the entire point of Teams - harnessing the cloud to improve collaboration while also keeping corporate data assets secure.

Fortunately, there are best practices that can help to ensure that Teams migration is orderly and successful.

Best practices

Before any data moves, it is essential to create a migration plan. This is a chance to craft data governance policies that will guide an organisation through the migration.

A good plan begins by asking questions that will help managers think through the migration. For example, who gets access to what data and when? How will permissions work? During planning, organisations should develop champions in different parts of the organisation who understand users' needs and are empowered to set up teams and channels to fit those needs.

Every migration should begin with an audit to ensure that users understand what data and which users they will need to migrate. This is one of the biggest challenges of a migration. The users need to decide what data won't be migrated ahead of time.

Quite often, there are overinflated user expectations about how perfectly the destination environment will match the source. Let stakeholders know ahead of time that a 'move-everything' approach is usually impractical.

Once the audit is complete, it's time to create a pre-migration checklist. This should include concrete steps for planning to address any issues identified in the audit, including how to handle any naming conflicts between teams and channels.

A pre-migration checklist should also include a plan for QA testing and how permissions should work post-migration. During testing, be sure to communicate clearly with end-users about what data will and won't be migrated. This kind of pre-migration communication is key in keeping expectations realistic.

Once users understand the scope of the migration, it's time to develop training plans that can be accessed easily and clearly communicate best practices for data governance.

It is important to keep the user experience top of mind. This might sound obvious, but if end users are lost in their new environment, all the work that went into making the migration seamless will be wasted.

Migrations are challenging, especially in today's environment. Hopefully, sharing this hard-won knowledge will help organisations to migrate Teams successfully and optimise its use in the future.

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