iStock-Unfinished-Business-2Early in my career I lucked out being able to conduct process related consulting for business processes, receive Capability Maturity Model Integration (CMMI) and Rational Unified Process (RUP) training at HP and later work with some great quality assurance professionals. They say if you ask a manager for a solution, they will recommend rigorous process and policy to enforce. If you speak to a technologist, they will recommend tools – they are both correct. Not taking a holistic approach to migration projects will lead to delays, cost overruns and quality issues – a lot of frustration as well for all involved.

To proactively manage expectations, quality and consistency, document the processes for conducting inventories, communications, site cleanup, site migrations, customer support, training and retirement/archival of old sites and content. For a summary of my approach read my Migrating to Office 365 – 12 steps that will help you get there blog which is a summary of my migration framework scars and all.

Where do you start? First off you will require a team consisting of the following roles/persons and note the list varies in accordance with the size of your organization and staffing:

  • Technical writer – This person is a writer by profession and is tasked with writing the documentation (Very involved).
  • Communications person –This person is responsible for communications being distributed to the end user community such as emails, website communications, lunch and learns and posters.
  • Migration tool vender technical person – This is a contact from the vender of choice that will help you with inventory and migration testing and documentation (Very involved).
  • Project manager – A friendly PM that will help coordinate the efforts and herd cats as required – such as procedural ambiguity, anti-supporters that want you to fail – have seen a lot of these.
  • Quality assurance person – This person will create the test plan, test cases and write the test report (Very involved).
  • Operations person – This person will provide production insight and support.
  • Product management – The product manager for SharePoint/O365 must be involved to help with project activities and decisions related to the service offering and roadmap.
  • Engineering/architect – This is the technical lead with SharePoint, O365, Migration and procedural experience.
  • Security person – The security person provides security insight specific to SharePoint site security and data protection.
  • Legal counsel/records manager – provides guidance and direction regarding audit and records management such as site and data disposition.

The persons with “Very involved” are tasked with most the hands-on work while the others play and very important role as well but mostly provide guidance, reviews and other required insight specific to their area of practice.

Once you have the team assembled, they will be tasked with the following:

  • Create a Migration Central Site – this site will act as the hub for site owners and the migration project team for communicating project goals, site migration status (dashboard of sorts) and actions required, provide training materials, FAQs, host discussions and related project materials. By utilizing this site, you will reduce confusion significantly as people will know where to go for information and not chase down email and spreadsheets. Read more
  • Document your inventory process – working with either your toolset vender or developer, document the process for running inventories, assessing and categorizing sites by complexity (work required to migrate). I use the traffic light analogy, Green = out of the box, yellow = out of the box but with large lists, InfoPath and workflows and Red = Visual Studio customizations and or third party add-ons or those that have seriously exceed software boundaries (e.g. 250k item lists and 400GB site collections.
  • Document your quality assurance materials – this includes test plan, test cases and test report. You will be very surprised by the discussions this work initiates and it’s all good. The plan will include how testing will be conducted, why, the data set to be used to name a few. Test cases will include detailed test cases for migrating and testing sites. The test report is the outcomes of the testing and recommended next steps. I use the rational unified process, if you’re not sure what to test contact me or read more
  • Document your migration process – this is a document that steps the reader through the end to end process for migration sites whether they be simple (Out of the box) or complex (customized with custom code, add-ons etc.) sites. These steps will be tool specific and in the case of heavily customized sites, specific to your environment. To get started utilize the toolset vender’s manuals as they will help jump start the process significantly. For migration tools I recommend DB Attach as its supported by Microsoft (so no post migration support headaches) and is fast as long as you do your cleanup and planning. If you chose tools, there are several out there, some are difficult to work with, have quirks, I recommend ShareGate for ease of use, price and company stability. if you’re not sure what to test contact me or read my O365 Migration testing blog.
  • Document your communications – all processes related to user awareness, preparation, status and follow-up. For example, what emails (Prep, during and post communications) will be sent to users, what it will contain and how replies and no-replies will be handled. Also how the help desk will be integrated into the process to screen and escalate calls accordingly. For example directing users to site migration status, FAQs, Training and Discussions on Migration Central Site. Or engaging support for port migration issues such as permissions or other functionality that not working as expected.
  • Capacity planning – projecting capacity needs (Servers, network, storage) and accounting for provisioning timelines (Provisioning lead times can be weeks or months depending on complexity of operating environment) for your environment. Weekly reporting is highly recommended to stay on top of projects versus reality. Some items to keep an eye on are growth in areas of sites, quotas, number of databases and size, search index size, SQL server drive space and server CPU, Disk, Memory and Network. If your virtualized make sure your farm is spread across multiple hosts and you mentor them as well.
  • Sign offs – Signs offs on all documentation by the major stakeholders such as IT, Records Management, Legal Counsel, Security, Operations, Engineering, Architecture and everyone else that is a stakeholder such as third party service providers.

But this is a summary only! Correct, it is. I’m under NDA in most cases and these materials are customer specific and cannot be distributed. Do I reuse them to help my customers fast track? Yes, but they require scrubbing and refactoring.

Some advice, work to involve all the stakeholders, remove negative people early in process as they will only work against you, raise awareness at senior levels (2-3 layers above frontline management), be prepared to deal with anti-supporters and noise makers – make sure everyone is actively involved as best makes sense and finally make sure your toolset provider has a local presence and experienced staff.

In summary, the aforementioned list of documents and advice will help accelerate your efforts. If you’re in a regulated industry such as Pharmaceuticals you might require more sign offs and documents such as IQ/OQs – your executive sponsor and PMO can guide you in this area. As I’ve mentioned in prior blogs I’ve worked in many industries and countries which helps me guide clients – make sure your PM and Architect have such experience.

Found this blog helpful or have suggestions? Contact me roncharity@gmail.com

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