To Migrate or Not to Migrate to SharePoint Online… that is the question

Nearly every organization uses Network Share Drives to store documents. Shared Drives are likely the most seemingly convenient but impractical locations where electronic documents are stored. They are basically digital landfills – accumulations of content that is likely rarely used, unclassified, untagged, and hence difficult to search. However, like the proverbial needles in a haystack, some of the content needs to be carefully managed.

One might think there is an Easy Button for this problem; simply ask users to evaluate and then delete files that are no longer needed from a business, organizational, or regulatory aspect. This means we are entrusting our users to understand the complexity of a compliance program and the legality of the content from a risk standpoint. The burden of classification, analysis, and determining level of importance falls upon users that are simply trying to get things done and that are not concerned nor aware of the intricacies involved in document/records management. Not going to happen!!

The fact is we have allowed users to become eHoarders. Unlike physical records which take up floor space, shared drives seem to be a bottomless pit of cheap storage and offer the path of least resistance to users – a dump it and forget it!

Should All Content Be Migrated to SharePoint?

Likely 90% of the shared drive content is not relevant for current business use. Reducing the volume of content will help uncover high risk content, identify records that must be managed and retained for regulatory compliance, and minimize the effort in meeting FOIA and eDiscovery request demands. Cleanup of the shared drives will simplify and reduce the cost for the migration process to SharePoint.
SharePoint Online provides great collaboration and search capabilities for organizations, less IT overhead, and a better End User experience. However, if not architected properly, SharePoint can end up being your next eLandfill. Creation of an Information Architecture and a Data Governance plan are critical.

SharePoint provides more granularity in describing the files through implementation of Content Type and metadata. No longer do you have just a document name, date, and owner. You can now create an Information Taxonomy that allows for better identification of what the file is and how it applies to business functions. Minimizing how much metadata is needed and maximizing how much metadata can be defaulted will drive better end user adoption as search results will be more relevant.

Finding the Needles in Those Share Drive Haystacks

Shared drive cleanup can be an arduous task. Asking your user community to perform this task may produce minimal results or analysis paralysis, where all suspect content is kept for fear of recrimination. People have jobs to do and cleanup is likely not their top priority. There needs to be rules to follow regarding what is important vs. what can be eliminated.

Here are some steps to consider prior to your migration journey to SharePoint:
– Take an inventory of where the content exists today.
– Identify the owners of the content.
– Determine if the content is shared amongst departments and if there are unique permissions defined.
– If content is not shared amongst departments determine if it has been duplicated for ease of use.
– Analyze how Share Drives are organized to determine the mapping to a SharePoint architecture.
– Create rules to define what is important information vs. what is redundant, outdated, or trivial. Discipline and training might be required.
– Get management to champion this process

There are several tools on the market that can help analyze and report on shared drive content to determine if content still has value from a Compliance or business standpoint or is ROT; Redundant, Obsolete, or Trivial. These tools also have migration capabilities that map to a SharePoint information taxonomy (sites, libraries, content types, and metadata).

Vana Solutions’ Compliance and Governance practice can guide your organization in the creation of a data governance program for SharePoint that focuses on minimizing ROT and transforms the way your organization stores and organizes documents. This includes implementation of structured sites, security controls and use of content types that allow users to clearly classify and describe content. From a governance standpoint, development of document and record retention lifecycle will ensure content is retained based on need not want, and will keep content compliant, relevant and searchable.

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