Every business (small and large) must perform a pre-migration assessment when planning a data migration to Microsoft 365. The assessment helps evaluate the complexities and risks, which, in turn, helps in choosing the right plan of action for the migration project.
This post focuses on the key tasks IT admins and business leaders need to undertake during the pre-migration impact assessment process.
One of the best practices we recommend is not to make the migration plan too rigid and have some flexibility to incorporate changes that come along the way.
1. Evaluating the Complexity of the Source Environment Data
The complexity of the source environment data is the core area businesses need to assess during the migration planning stage. Some of the common factors that make the data structure complex include:
- Intricate user hierarchy
- File and folder names unsupported in Microsoft 365
- Long file paths unsupported in Microsoft 365
- A large amount of data stored in a single root folder
- Permissions shared in a complex way
Understanding these complexities during the pre-migration assessment helps discover the right solutions to tackle them. Addressing these complexities also helps lower the risk of migration failure.
2. Finalizing the Features To Migrate
Another critical task to prioritize during the pre-migration assessment phase is to decide what features to migrate to Microsoft 365. In most cases, the specific features to migrate directly depend on the business process outcomes needed from the data migration project.
- Migrating permissions, embedded links, and external shares are crucial for retaining the collaboration structure in Microsoft 365
- Migrating timestamps are crucial for time-sensitive files and folders
- Migrating file versions and in-line comments are important for accurate record-keeping
- Maintaining folder structure is critical for retaining user hierarchy
- Converting source cloud-specific files e.g., Box Notes (during Box to OneDrive migration) into .DOCX files in Microsoft 365
3. Pre-provisioning Microsoft 365 Accounts
One of the most important boxes to check when migrating clouds such as Box, Google Drive, and Dropbox to OneDrive and SharePoint Online is provisioning Microsoft 365 user accounts. Transferring source environment data to Microsoft 365 is only possible when the user accounts are provisioned.
Here is an official guide from Microsoft to pre-provision user accounts in OneDrive for Business and SharePoint Online.
4. Preparing the User List and Getting It Validated
Businesses must perform a pre-migration impact assessment focused on the users. The first step to do this is to prepare a comprehensive list of all the users to be migrated to Microsoft 365. Here is an example of a user list:
The next step is to have the user list checked and validated by the migration partner. In many cases, the user list that businesses prepare is flawed as not all aliases will be accurate and not all user accounts may be active in the source cloud.
5. Readying the Source and Destination Environment
It is crucial to include source and destination environment preparation in the pre-migration assessment stage to simplify the process of adding source and destination clouds to the migration platform. Preparing the source and destination environment involves several tasks, including:
- Readying the login credentials of both the source and destination admin accounts
- Finalizing the user hierarchy in the destination cloud (Microsoft 365)
- Creating relevant Sites in SharePoint Online
6. Running a Test Migration and Validating the Result
Coordinating with the migration partner and performing a test migration is one of the core aspects of pre-migration impact assessment. The result of the test migration will help your IT team know whether the migration will impact end-users in a certain way.
We recommend preparing a pilot batch consisting of a couple of dummy user accounts and test migrate them along with metadata and sharing permissions. Also, make sure to check the test migration report to assess the migration accuracy.
7. Reviewing the Staging Environment to Plan the Migration Timeline
Assess the staging environment that the migration partner plans on deploying for the migration project. Check with the migration team to learn about the server configuration and understand the data transfer speed.
These types of information will help your team plan the migration timeline for each batch. Check out our Microsoft 365 migration timeline planner guide for more insights into timeline planning.