Who should read this article?
If you’re a business owner, leader, or decision-maker looking to mature your business with Microsoft’s M365 cloud services and SharePoint Online, you might be thinking about analyzing how your employees use these tools to maximize their value and boost adoption and engagement. This article is for you.
What are analytics?
Web analytics about user behavior can be interpreted to drive adoption and engagement in a front-facing system like a public website or a company intranet like SharePoint Online. The data collected often includes information about search results, page views, unique viewers, click-through rate, most popular pages, peak usage hours, and much more.
Analytics create potential for a deeper understanding of employee adoption. Without knowing how your employees use SharePoint Online and M365, you may be missing opportunities for engagement and increased adoption of new tools. The best analytics solution for your organization depends on your business needs. Some analytics tools are more generic in nature and are applicable to wider audience. Oftentimes, free options like Google Analytics are attractive because your budget is limited, or the procurement process takes too long. But there is more to consider that could shift your focus to a hidden cost that isn’t always immediately observed.
So, let’s review all options before discussing one of the more popular free options, Google Analytics.
What are my analytics options for SharePoint Online?
There are several options to collect analytics, but if you do a quick search you might find results like Google Analytics, tyGraph (AvePoint), CardioLog, Netwrix, Microsoft Adoption Content Pack, Syskit Point, and ShareGate Desktop.
The audience differs for each solution. For example, Syskit, Netwrix, and ShareGate are aimed at administrators and are usually used for auditing and governance. But others are more geared toward employee focused groups like Marketing, Human Resources, or Communications for the purpose of employee engagement. tyGraph, for example, has focused their attention on a smoother experience of interpreting the data, making it more user friendly. Quisitive is a tyGraph (AvePoint) partner because it integrates with more than just SharePoint Online and we support all aspects of the M365 suite including OneDrive, Teams, and the Viva Suite.
Of course, Microsoft offers their own analytics engine inside of the M365 admin center and a separate Power BI dashboard kit. Without question, both add tremendous value in lieu of a third-party tool. Microsoft has made great strides in the last few years with their analytics, but the scope of the data collected is limited. If you’re not in a position to fund the purchase of a third-party tool, the M365 Usage report is an excellent choice and requires little effort to understand and use.
Factors to consider when choosing an analytics tool may include:
- Initial cost and cost of implementation, maintenance, upgrades, and retirement
- Interoperability with enterprise systems and devices
- Security and privacy
- Skill set required to implement and use it
- Adaptability to new systems in the future without losing funcionality
- Data source compatibility – from which systems can I pull data, even if not interoperable
Google Analytics in SharePoint Online
One of the most popular free alternatives is Google Analytics. Let’s review the pros and cons.
Pros of Google Analytics in SharePoint Online
- Compatible with SharePoint Online
- Low initial cost if total number of hits remains below 10 million per month
- You get to skip the procurement process
- User friendly (post-installation)
- Learning curve is reasonable, albeit a bit technical
- More granular than limited native M365 analytics
- Mobile devices are supported
- Most organizations use mobile devices for productivity so that base is covered
Cons of Google Analytics in SharePoint Online
- Google just released Google Analytics v4 and a migration/upgrade may be in your near and long-term future
- Setup process isn’t as straightforward as competitors
- Tagging pages for analytics was never simple and remains that way, even in the latest Google Analytics 4. You must be familiar with SharePoint Online administration to install.
- Personally identifiable information is prohibited. “[Google Analytics] prohibits sending personally identifiable information (PII) to Analytics (such as names, social security numbers, email addresses, or any similar data), or data that permanently identifies a particular device…”
- Support options are limited without a partner relationship
- Google is a large company and typically hands support tasks to its qualified Partners.
- Lack of M365 native interoperability
- Only page data is collected, document usage isn’t collected. There is relevant data to collect outside of SharePoint Online when influencing employees to adopt multiple M365 applications. Google does not offer documentation explaining which data isn’t collected
- You will be charged if total hits exceed 10 million in a month
- Anyone who has access to the Google Analytics account has access to all SharePoint analytics data
- There isn’t a way to keep the analytics data private and segregate roles. Other tools offer role-based security (viewers vs admins).
- Privacy isn’t a guarantee
- You’ll want to read the fine print before choosing Google Analytics since they often use customer information for targeted ads and predictive search results.
Which tool is best for my organization?
Now that you are aware of the pros and cons, let’s put it all into context.
One of the most common reactions to a paid solution is aversion due to the perception of excessive cost. But just because a tool is free doesn’t mean it won’t cost you anything and may simply be the wrong tool for your business. Security is also concern that might be ignored in favor of a free tool. What good is a free tool if it doesn’t truly meet your needs?
Your organization may in fact already be using Google Analytics and wondering whether to stay with it or move to a new solution. But the decision remains the same because your business is going to change, and your solutions should be agile enough to change with it. Is Google Analytics agile enough to keep up with M365? Google is focused on a wider audience, mostly public websites, and especially online retail. Metrics meant for retail and public websites simply can’t be used in SharePoint Online because the data point isn’t available.
With that in mind, it’s safe to say that the cost of an analytics solution is relative. Not just compared to other solutions, free or paid, but relative to the potential consequences of using the wrong solution, costing you time and energy when you likely revisit this decision in the future as your business matures beyond the free solution’s limitations.
You might think ROI isn’t a factor while implementing Google Analytics because the solution is free. The reality is that if you choose an analytics solution that isn’t right for your business, you could find yourself collecting irrelevant data or more likely end up in an information deficit – behavioral information that could help you motivate your employees to use the tools that organically boost efficiency and output and shift your company culture in a positive direction.
The financial cost of an incomplete understanding how your employees work is difficult to quantify but it’s easily observed in common day-to-day pain points and high turnover. Both could be addressed by leadership who are armed with the added context the behavioral data offers.
The ultimate goal of an analytics solution is to boost productivity but like any business goal, the underlying objective is financial. Increased productivity usually equates to greater cost savings and ideally leads to increased revenue, covering the cost of the solution that enabled your business to mature and succeed. In theory, a paid tool could pay for itself eventually.
If your goal is to mature your business by using an analytics solution for M365 and SharePoint Online, the question you might ask yourself when choosing a product is:
“Can we afford the cost associated with the risk of an information deficit?”
If you’ve exhausted your options for funding and have no alternative outside of the native M365 analytics, Google Analytics will suffice, especially with a tight timeline.
But if you have any wiggle room in your budget and timeline to obtain a paid solution that integrates with M365, you may end up covering the cost with the boost in productivity from increased adoption down the road. It’s a win-win scenario, if done right. You should still take your time to do your diligence and make a confident decision.
Whether your goal is to simply go paperless or to implement complex solutions for big ideas inside SharePoint Online and M365, Google Analytics is a fine starting point and may suffice long-term. However, if you’re expecting ongoing organizational change alongside adoption of new M365 tools, you may better serve your organization by choosing a solution that fully integrates with M365 applications, in anticipation of the future business needs.
Remember, you likely won’t stop adopting M365 at SharePoint Online and might eventually introduce Teams, OneDrive, and the Viva Suite to your employees. You may need a more comprehensive report of usage across them all to make sure your business is headed in the right direction.
Looking for additional assistance with SharePoint Online?
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Microsoft Announces Copilot in SharePoint
On May 2nd 2023, Microsoft 365 Copilot in SharePoint was added to the Microsoft 365 Roadmap for SharePoint.
Microsoft emphasizes that Copilot in SharePoint “combines the power of Large Language Models (LLMs), your data in the Microsoft Graph, and best practices to create engaging web content. Use a brief prompt to generate custom sites and pages with content hierarchy, design, and sample content that aligns with user needs. And all within our existing commitments to data security and privacy in the enterprise.”
So what does this mean for you?
Copilot in SharePoint is really going to empower users to create content easier than they were able to before with much richer automation techniques. With natural language, users will be able to ask Copilot to create a new site based on a PowerPoint presentation. Microsoft 365 Copilot will then take over and create the content, whether that’s a site, a page, etc.
What is Microsoft 365 Copilot?
Microsoft 365 Copilot is a new technology that Microsoft has rolled out. It’s an AI tool based on GPT4. GPT4 may sound familiar to you because ChatGPT is also based off of GPT4.
Microsoft 365 Copilot is going to be rolled out across the Microsoft 365 stack in everything from Word and Excel to Teams, SharePoint and more. It’s going to use the power of AI to do the work for you to get information you need to shorten the amount of effort that it takes to do normal things. Whether it’s creating content in Word, SharePoint, Teams, it’s going to integrate with Outlook as well and the Viva Suite.
Here’s an example video Microsoft has provided where somebody is asking Microsoft 365 Copilot to create an employee onboarding site for product managers and use this onboarding PowerPoint to get started. With just a simple sentence and an uploaded PowerPoint file, Copilot is able to create a new site and start populating it with information.
From what I can tell, if you’re not good at page design, that won’t matter anymore because Copilot will be able to come up with pretty nice looking designs. So there’s going to be a lot of benefits to this technology, especially when we have Copilot in SharePoint later this year.
Copilot in SharePoint Roll Out
According to the Microsoft 365 Roadmap, the Copilot in SharePoint roll out will begin in November 2023.
My own personal tenant is running on the targeted release so it should get things sooner than the majority of production environments which would typically be on the standard release. As soon as it’s available in my tenant, I’m definitely going to be trying this out and posting more videos on what I can do with it.
With this being rolled out to desktop applications as well as the Enterprise Suite like Teams, Viva, and SharePoint, users are going to get a lot of exposure to this. You should be familiar with this so you can answer questions they may have and help them because this is going to be a large amount of functionality that’s added that users will definitely be trying out this technology.
To support this new interface that Copilot is going to be sitting in, the edit layout for SharePoint pages is changing as well, moving all of your authoring tools off to the side so that you can quickly get to what you need I think it’s a much needed improvement over the old editing layout.
As more information comes out I’m going to keep putting out update videos on these topics to keep you informed are you excited to try out Microsoft 365 Copilot when it rolls out to your tenant.
- SharePoint in the AI Era
- SharePoint Roadmap
- Introducing Microsoft 365 Copilot
- Frequently asked questions about AI and Microsoft 365 Copilot
Looking for additional assistance with SharePoint?
Looking for additional assistance with SharePoint?
We are experts in SharePoint migration, with over 1,000 successful Microsoft SharePoint implementations. Our SharePoint solutions drive productivity, foster collaboration, and engage users, making us a preferred Microsoft partner nationally.
I have been a consultant in the SharePoint space for a decade. Every year I had at least one client asking if it’s possible to change your SharePoint domain name due to a merger, rebranding acquisition, etc. Until recently the answer has always been “No.”
Over the past two years, Microsoft has been vetting the process with organizations that have volunteered their environment as a test bed. In that time, we have helped a handful of clients navigate those rough waters.
Based on the lessons learned, Microsoft has made this capability public for specific tenant types that meet certain criteria. Before you get too excited and jump headlong into it, there are things you must consider. Fortunately, Microsoft has provided some valuable documentation to help you identify any hazards ahead.
An important clarification to get out of the way is that this only affects SharePoint and OneDrive URLs (tenantname.sharepoint.com and tenantname-my.sharepoint.com). Additionally, this action automatically creates a redirect from your old URL for you, but it will only last for one year.
Before you jump ahead to the “How” portion of this blog, here are the key limiters that Microsoft has put in place.
You CANNOT proceed if:
- The domain name you want to use is already in use.
- If you own the name and want to use it, you must delete it in Azure AD. This can take up to 3 days.
- You have a multi-geo configuration.
- Your organization uses a special cloud such as GCC, GCC High, DoD etc.
- If you have more than 10,000 total SharePoint sites and OneDrive accounts COMBINED.
- If you have old SharePoint public sites.
- If you have a vanity domain configuration (teams.quisitive.com vs quisitive.sharepoint.com).
- If you have already completed a rename (why would you be reading this?).
- You can’t change back to a previous name (again, you have done this already right?!).
Aside from these limitations, you need to plan for other issues that will arise from this name change. I have listed many below that have affected our clients, but the full list can be found in this recent post from Microsoft: Change Your SharePoint Domain Name.
Things to Consider When You Change Your SharePoint Domain Name
- You will need to re-register your hubs and reassociate sites to the hub
- Any sites deleted before the change can’t be restored
- If you are planning to run a SPOSiteSwap to change your root site, do it before or after the name change.
- Add-ins may need to be republished depending on app configurations in Azure AD to point to the new domain name
- Any absolute URL in navigation, 3rd Party apps, or custom web parts/extensions must be manually updated
- SharePoint 2013 Workflows in flight will be orphaned
- Search results will point to the old domain until the index is complete and this could take some time
- Navigation elements such as Global Navigation, Hub Navigation, Site Navigation, Quick Links etc. with URL that contain absolute URLs will need to be updated manually.
- Users will receive a sync error during the changeover and should be informed of this to avoid confusion and needless Help Desk tickets
- Quick access links will not work after the changeover
- Document libraries added as a tab will need to be re-added.
- Meeting notes can take up to 72 hours to display after the change is completed
- The first time someone tries to access the Files tab for a team or private channel, they’ll receive an error. The tab will work for all users after that.
- Personal Wikis won’t work
- Flows that use SharePoint as a connection must be removed and re-created.
- Request sign-off flows that use SharePoint as a connection must be removed and re-created
- During the change over users may experience errors when saving Office files that are located in OneDrive
- eDiscovery holds can’t be removed until you update hold URLs to the new domain name
- URLS at https://www.office.com can take 24 hours to be updated
After reviewing all the limitations and planning for all the strangeness that comes from the name change you can kick off the process by following Microsoft’s Change your SharePoint Domain name instructions.
I highly recommend that you complete this over a weekend. Even a long weekend. As described above, there are many moving pieces, and some of the actions take time to complete. As complex as this process is, it is still easier than migrating to a new tenant.
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When content authors add Microsoft Stream videos to a SharePoint Hero web part, users can now view the video inline within the web part.
How to Add Microsoft Stream Videos to SharePoint Hero Web Part
Beginning in December 2022, Microsoft began rolling out an update to the Hero web part. When content authors add Microsoft Stream video to a SharePoint Hero web part, users can now view the video inline within the web part. When users click to play a video in the Hero web part section of a SharePoint site, the video will play inline. This feature allows users to watch a video without being taken off the SharePoint page and allows users to browse or scroll through the other contents of the page while the video plays.
It is important to note that this functionality only works for videos in Microsoft Stream on SharePoint. Stream Classic videos will open in the Stream Classic web app.
In the example below, I have a Hero web part deployed with two Microsoft Stream videos along with other content. The user is given clues such as a play button and a duration stamp which convey that the content they are seeing is a video.
When the user clicks the play button, the entire Hero web part is now the stage that displays the video. Not only does the video play, but the user has access to many of the controls you would expect to see if they were accessing the video from the Stream web app.
Video transcripts are also available if a video was recorded with transcription turned on. Notice the example above is missing the transcript option in the upper right section of the video. In the example below, the Teams meeting was recorded with transcription turned on. In this case, you can view the transcript along with the video.
There is some trade-off regarding viewing the transcript in this small footprint. As you can see in this example, the video is shrunk to accommodate. However, you still have the ability to search for keywords in the transcript and jump to that section of the video by clicking on the block of text.
What do you have to do?
This functionality is being rolled out to all tenants. Taking advantage of this is simple. First, open Microsoft Stream and find a video you would like to include in your Hero web part.
With the link copied, edit your page with a Hero web part. You will be prompted to choose a location for your Hero component. Choose “From a link”, paste the link you just copied into the text box, and click the “Add” button.
In some cases, you need to tweak the automatically created Hero tile. In this case, SharePoint auto-generated a very bland tile.
Thankfully, we can customize the tile with a few clicks. With the page in edit mode, click on the tile we just created to display the edit controls for that specific tile. Click on the pencil icon for that tile (not for the overall Hero web part, but the one in the lower right-hand corner).
Now you can add your own title, background image, alt text, or call-to-action link.
In my example, I added a stock image, a new title, and a link to learn more about our monthly forum.
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In November, Microsoft began rolling out three new Sharepoint site templates targeted for HR (Human Resources), Events, and Contract Management. A Sharepoint site template is comprised of pre-populated content and layouts that allow site admins to build or refresh an existing SharePoint site in minutes. Learn more about these templates with this blog.
New SharePoint Site Templates
In November, Microsoft began rolling out three (3) new SharePoint site templates targeted for HR (Human Resources), Events, and Contract Management. Site templates are comprised of pre-populated content and layouts that allow site admins to build or refresh an existing SharePoint site in minutes.
They can provide significant value to organizations by allowing new sites to be created with predefined designs that can include features and content. Once you create a new site, the first time you go to the site, you will be asked if you want to start designing your site.
If you choose to browse the templates, you will be able to find both ones that Microsoft has created, including these three new templates, and ones that your organization has developed, you can read about how to create your own SharePoint site templates here.
If you do not assign a site template immediately, you can always apply one later by going to the Settings icon and then selecting Apply a site template.
Once you have applied a template, your site will now look like the template and will have new lists and libraries as well.
Human Resources Site Template
There are three new site templates that Microsoft is deploying to every tenant’s site templates catalog. The first is a new HR template. The new HR site template brings together all the information your employees need to navigate employment and benefits.
The layout of the HR Communication site provides a Hero web part, Spotlights, and Quick Links with a right-side section where FAQs (frequently asked questions) can be displayed. There are additional pages pre-created for you to highlight topics such as Compensation and Benefits. The site can be simply configured using the content provided, but most likely it will be used as a jumping-off point for an HR site.
Event Site Template
The new Event template includes many great layout suggestions that will highlight any upcoming event you are planning. The idea behind this site is that you can provide a location that details everything about that event as it approaches. The countdown web part will display a timer that provides a link to register for the event (for example, you could provide a link to a Teams Webinar). It also provides web parts for Twitter and Yammer content about the event. As with all of these templates, you can add content to the template, or use it as a starting point for a more customized approach.
Contracts Management Template
The last template is designed to work with Microsoft Syntex, so you need to have some licenses for it to be displayed in the list of available templates.
With the contracts management template, you can learn more about how Syntex works and be able to get started right away. This template also comes with a prebuilt tutorial and some established models designed to help your team get started with Microsoft Syntex.
With the safety net of being able to revert a site to a previously applied SharePoint site template, site admins can now feel more empowered to give one of these new templates a test run on existing sites.
What do you have to do (admin/end user)?
This feature will be on by default with no admin control.
How this will affect your organization:
No explicit user action is needed to enable or use this feature.
What you need to do to prepare:
You may update your user documentation to inform users about this change.
Whether you are migrating SharePoint into Microsoft 365 or have your content already in the Microsoft Cloud, you are still going to be moving emails, documents, lists, photos, and more. In a way, the old days of the on-premises world were easier for migrations.
When an updated version of SharePoint or Exchange came out, you stood up new hardware, curated your old content, and got rid of your Redundant, Obsolete, and Trivial (ROT) content. Then you moved the current content into the new system, often using that as an opportunity to redesign your Information Architecture (IA) and update your look and feel. For organizations that moved to the Microsoft Cloud, they usually followed those same best practices (ROT Analysis, designing new IA, designing new interface and experience, and moving the content).
Types of SharePoint Migrations
There are five types of SharePoint migrations that organizations engage in. Let’s take a quick look at each one:
1. Migration from on-premises system to on-premises system
Examples include upgrading a SharePoint or Exchange instance or moving content from a file share into a structured storage system like SharePoint. In this type of SharePoint migration, we have an advantage in that we control every aspect of both sides of the migration process.
- This is the fastest type of SharePoint migration for moving the data because the only limiting factor is, usually, our network as opposed to an online service.
- You often will not need a migration tool to handle these migrations because we can often just detach the content databases from one system and then attach them to another system. It should be noted that if you do not use a tool, you are missing some important best practices such as upgrading your IA and look and feel.
- You should still curate your content and perform a ROT analysis because every migration is the time to get rid of old content.
2. Migration from on-premises system to a cloud provider
Taking your SharePoint or Exchange information into M365 (or another provider), moving files from file shares to Azure BLOB storage. These migrations are still quite common because not everyone has fully migrated into cloud services.
- In this type of migration, the online service is going to limit how fast you can move content into their service, but services mostly want you to get your content into their service, so they often have ways to upload content very quickly. For example, Microsoft 365 provides a set of APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) that migration tools can use to upload content quickly into their service, but still, you should plan on 5-10GB/hour for each migration box you are running.
- You will certainly be using a migration tool, and Microsoft provides a free tool for migration, but other tools offer more capabilities as well.
- Because cloud providers like SharePoint Online store and organize data differently, and even Azure BLOB storage has differences, you will be required to reorganize your content when you migrate. Just moving it as it is into the cloud will result in a sub-optimal end-user experience. Use this time to take advantage of new features to make content more accessible and easier to find.
- Because the amount of content you migrate will affect the total migration time, you will want to curate your content before you migrate.
3. Migration from a cloud provider to another cloud provider
Moving your email and file storage from a non-Microsoft cloud into M365 or moving content from one M365 tenant into another. These migrations are increasingly more common as organizations merge or divest as part of the business cycle. The hallmark of this type of migration is that you must pull data from a cloud provider which is often throttled and can be extremely slow as a result.
- When moving from different cloud providers (say Google to Microsoft) your selection of tools may be limited.
- Often different cloud providers have vastly different paradigms for how they treat data. Google Drive has quite an unusual way of storing content compared to Microsoft. It is not that one is correct and the other not, but just that they are different. You will need to validate how your tool handles these cases and communicate them to your end users. For example, Google Drive allows people to link files and folders stored in other users’ Google Drives. This is analogous to OneDrive allowing you to share files, but to migration tools, sometimes those linked files appear as the current user’s files even though they are stored in another user’s Google Drive. This can cause duplication of content on migration.
- Plan for slow downloads of content. Most cloud providers will limit the speed with which you can extract data from their systems. This will be the limiting factor of your migration as opposed to uploading it to the new cloud provider. You might see a quick transfer of data for a period, but then it might stop after some time. You can get around this by using multiple accounts to get data but will still likely end up going much slower than you hoped for.
- As always, curate your content and get rid of ROT before you migrate.
4. Migration inside of a single cloud provider
This type of SharePoint migration involves taking content from one section of your cloud and moving it to another (for example SharePoint Online classic sites into Modern sites). In this type of migration, you are really reorganizing your content. Sometimes this occurs after you did a “lift and shift” type of migration of on-premises content into the cloud and now you are organizing that content.
- These are slow migrations like cloud-to-cloud migrations because you must extract data from the system and then upload it. There usually is not a straightforward way to move content inside of a cloud provider so you must use tools that extract it and then upload it again.
- Often these migrations are long-term projects, almost continual because the older content is in an “attic” where it will be kept semi-accessible until needed. You are in a maintenance phase of your content where the amount you move may be small, but you may perform small migrations and transformations of data on a semi-regular basis.
- In effect, this is the curation of your data post-migration, and much of this could be obviated by pre-migration curation.
5. Migration from a cloud provider to an on-premises system
This type of migration is about pulling content from a cloud service that you are no longer using, but you want to store in local storage. Sometimes there is a need to remove content from a cloud provider, often because of security concerns. In these cases, you need to find a tool that is designed for this type of work. This is often a cloud backup provider but ensure that it allows you to access the files directly as opposed to restoring them to the cloud provider.
Our next blog in this series discusses best practices to consider when embarking on a SharePoint migration. Read Here>
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This blog offers guidance on Microsoft 365 migrations, including the differences between key Microsoft 365 apps (OneDrive, SharePoint and Teams).
The purpose of this blog is to offer guidance on Microsoft 365 migrations, including the differences between key Microsoft 365 apps (OneDrive vs SharePoint vs Teams) and where to map content based on purpose, audience, and the tools needed to support that content.
Microsoft 365 Migration Planning
Before you start your Microsoft 365 migration, specifically your content migration, you must plan the outcome by assessing your current source environment. What you discover will influence your overall strategy and timing, including:
- The design of the target environment and the mapping between source and target systems.
- The amount of content you migrate. Determine if the content is redundant, out of date, or still relevant.
- The building of the user onboarding into your upfront planning. Communicate early and often with your users about the migration and how it will impact them. Don’t wait until the very end to start preparing them for the change.
Microsoft 365 Migration: OneDrive vs SharePoint vs Teams
When to use OneDrive
OneDrive is meant to be used to store files that are personal to you. Each person in your organization gets their own OneDrive, which includes at least 1TB of space.
The recommendation is that if you’re working on a file by yourself, save it to OneDrive. For example, use OneDrive vs SharePoint when working with personal files that shouldn’t be shared, or drafts of files that are not ready to be moved to a SharePoint library or Teams for collaboration.
While users will be able to share documents from their OneDrive site, they should not use OneDrive to store documents that should instead be stored on a SharePoint site. The following guidelines should be communicated to users regarding when to store something in OneDrive:
1. Documents that you personally need to do your job, but that would not benefit others. For example, documents like task planning spreadsheets that you use to organize your work.
2. Documents that you need to share with a few limited individuals for a limited amount of time. For example, you and a few others are planning a team celebration, and you post a pdf of the menu from a restaurant that the team is considering.
3. First draft documents that you are working on that you are not quite ready to share with others. However, if this document needs to be shared with a wider audience or needs to live on for a long period, it should be stored on a SharePoint site.
When to use SharePoint
A SharePoint site is a container of information and data. Information can be stored in repositories such as lists, libraries, calendars, etc. When considering SharePoint as a destination for your files, it is important to first distinguish between the two types of modern SharePoint sites available and when is the best scenario to use them.
- Communication Sites – The primary goal of this type of site is to inform readers – mainly for them to read, not create. A typical use of a communication site is an Intranet. Used to broadcast information to a broad audience, in this type of site, only a small set of members contribute content that is consumed by a much larger audience.
- Share content such as news, official documents, and reports that you want to share visually in a compelling format, an example is a human resources site with benefits information.
- Inform and engage dozens or hundreds of readers (or the entire organization).
- Showcase the services your group offers or tell a story about a new product launch to the entire organization.
- Team sites – Used primarily for collaboration among members of your team or with others on a specific project, team sites allow most members to contribute content to the site, and the information is limited to only the members of the team or project stakeholders. This type of site may or may not be connected to a Microsoft 365 group. Use this type of site when:
- Content is meant to be shared with a small audience for specific goals and tasks that need to be accomplished.
- Track and stay updated on project status.
- Organize and co-author shared content.
- Optionally connect to a Microsoft 365 group to access team resources (e.g., Microsoft Teams).
When to use Teams
When thinking about the differences between SharePoint vs Teams, it’s important to note that a Microsoft Teams workspace is a SharePoint Team site (see the previous section) that is connected to a Microsoft 365 group. It is a collection of people, conversations, files, and tools all in one place. It extends the capabilities of a regular SharePoint Team site by offering chat options, real-time collaboration and communication, and meeting, file, and app sharing.
Use a Microsoft Teams workspace when you want to:
- Pull together a team.
- Communicate by using chat instead of email.
- Take advantage of rich chat with text, audio, video, and file sharing.
- Securely edit files at the same time.
- Provide transparency to the team by posting messages and starting threads.
- Have a private chat to develop an idea, then share it with the rest of the organization.
- Store all files related to a topic in one place.
- Integrate your favorite apps, such as Planner, Trello, OneNote, etc.
Looking for further guidance?
Now that you understand the key differences between OneDrive vs SharePoint vs Teams, we hope you feel better prepared to utilize these apps effectively. If your organization is beginning its Microsoft 365 migration journey and you’re looking for expert guidance, Quisitive can help.
In this article, I’d like to explore a few Sharepoint migration best practices. By following these, you will maximize your chances of success when its time to tackle your migration.
Best Practice #1: Define Success
The first thing you should always do when you are getting ready to migrate is to define what a successful migration will look like. It’s tempting just to say, “Everything is the same”. But if you really want things the same, then why are you migrating in the first place?
Some questions that you should ask yourself are:
- Why am I undertaking this process in the first place?
Is the goal to retire the old system and thus not pay for it anymore, or do you want to take advantage of some features of the new system that we didn’t have before (like versions in SharePoint, or easy sharing of files)? When you can define the reason for the migration you can also assess its value to the organization. For example, if another cloud provider has a renewal date coming up and getting migrated out of that will save the company $500,000, then you have a compelling reason to get the migration done by a specific date.
- When does it need to be completed by?
The worst migrations are the ones that don’t have a solid date to end them because they tend to never get completed.
- What tools will we use to migrate content?
There are plenty of free SharePoint migration tools out there to migrate content but remember that you tend to get what you pay for. If you only need to move a little content and are OK with spending time reorganizing that content once its migrated, then a free tool might be enough. If you want to transform that content (and you almost always do), then you are going to want a tool. If you want to automate the migration, then you are going to want a tool. Balance the cost of your (and all the end users) time with the cost of the tool.
Best Practice #2: Involve End Users
Remember that the people most affected by your migration are the ones that are often not involved until the very end of the migration. We don’t want to do that.
We need to involve selected groups of end users in our process early on. Some of these will be content owners who are critical to our ability to succeed in the migration, but especially if we are redesigning our taxonomy, information architecture, or feature set, we are going to want to make sure that we involve the users to increase our chances of a successful SharePoint migration. If we are going to involve the end users, there are several techniques that we should implement.
- Build a communications plan that creates a framework for all your communications. You should communicate regularly and tell your users what is happening when it is happening, how that will affect the users, and what is expected of them. Remember that communication isn’t just sending out an email to the organization, but it is using every channel (email, news items on the intranet, social media posts, Teams posts, QR codes on posters, town hall meetings, staff meetings, and peers talking to each other. A good communications plan should incorporate all these channels and should expect that different types of users receive communications differently.
- Understand your end users by building personas to understand their communications, learning, and work styles. Personas allow you to look at types of users as opposed to departments or jobs to make crafting communications and training more effective.
- Identify champions across the organization who want to learn the new tools/features. These users will form the foundation of your end user outreach and you will want to provide them with deeper training and use their feedback to help craft communication and training that will be delivered to the end users. They also become peers that are available to teach their co-workers one on one when they need it.
Best Practice #3: Clean Before You Move
For a very long time, I have used the metaphor of moving when talking about best practices for Sharepoint migrations.
It is relatable and quite accurate to how we think about SharePoint migration steps. When we are moving from one residence to another, we assess what we own and decide what should be moved to our new home. We might have a yard sale to get rid of old things or donate them to charity, but we do look for Redundant, Obsolete, and Trivial items.
In the M365 migration world, we call that R.O.T. analysis and it is a critical part of your migration effort. Let’s return to the moving metaphor for a minute. When you move, we get rid of unneeded things prior to our move because it takes effort to move something, and we don’t want to move a couch or a dresser that we aren’t going to use anymore. We get rid of it first.
Migrating content has the same principle. We want to limit the content that we end up moving because it takes time to migrate it, time to validate that it was migrated, and then time to get rid of it since we don’t want/need it anymore. If we move our bad data into our new system then we end up with the same problem in the new location, and we are so busy getting used to the new place that we likely forget about that old data and just leave it there.
Best Practice #4: A Place for Everything and Everything in its Place
As we move our content into its new home, this is the time to organize everything. We want to take advantage of new features for displaying, searching and organizing our information, and that likely means that we will need to add metadata tags or change the folders that content currently resides in as it is moved to the new location.
This is complex and time-consuming, but worth it because, much like the clean-up, if we don’t do this as part of the migration, it won’t happen later. Oh, we will say that we will, but our experience has shown that the impetus to change ends with the migration project and people are more concerned about doing their daily jobs than re-organizing.
So, plan to do that re-organizing during the migration if you want it to happen at all. One trick here is to realize that our users will be excited to have their content in a fresh and new interface so use that as part of your change management communications where you show them how the new system will benefit them in their daily lives. This will build interest and support for your SharePoint migration and help with your efforts to get them to clean up and re-organize as part of the move. If you are migrating into SharePoint Online as an example, you will want to use Modern Sites and that will likely mean transforming your Classic Sites as part of the migration.
Best Practice #5: Avoid Shortcuts
Migrations are hard work if you want them done the right way. You will be tempted just to grab everything and move it to the new location, also called a “lift and shift” migration, but you should hold firm in your stance to avoid that type of migration. It sounds faster, easier, and cheaper, and the project will be, but the effort for your end users across your organization will be much more in the long run.
You will also hurt your chances of getting people to adopt the new system because it will have the same issues that they had with the old system. This especially is a problem when you find out that your existing system has integrations, customizations, and fully developed solutions that run inside of it or against it. This might be a back-end system that drops files into a file share or a SharePoint full trust solution that won’t run in SharePoint Online.
Not thinking each of these issues through or hoping for the best can lead to major disruptions to your migration. Don’t take it for granted that there aren’t any third-party solutions or integrations, but run SharePoint migration tools like the SharePoint Migration Assessment Tool to find issues like long file names, invalid characters, and more.
Bringing It All Together
If you are prepping for migration, you should think about these SharePoint Migration Best Practices before you start. This will increase your migration success rate.
- Define your success by understanding what you need and what tools you will use
- Involve the end users so that they can help you design the new solution and help build interest in the new system
- Do your R.O.T. Analysis before you move so that you only migrate what you need
- Organize your new content and take advantage of new features
- Don’t just lift and shift that data you will just end up with the same problems in a new location
Stay tuned for part 2 of this blog series, where I will breakdown the various types of SharePoint migrations.
Looking for assistance with your migration?
Updates to SharePoint Admin Center
Updates for site creation settings
With this update, you will have more control over whether users can create sites in your organization. We are introducing an additional layer of control that will provide more granular decisions over what mechanisms sites can be created from by users.
This message is associated with Microsoft 365 Roadmap ID 93427.
When this will happen:
- Targeted Release: This will begin rolling out in early September.
- Standard: will begin rolling out in late September and complete in early October.
How this will affect your organization:
When configuring the site creation settings, you will have a new option to control the creation of sites in addition to the current option of showing the option to create sites. This appears in the site creation settings panel within the SharePoint admin center.
What you need to do to prepare:
You do not need to do anything to prepare. Your changes to any other options in the Site creation panel won’t be affected.