A framework for file migrations to Microsoft 365

One of the major points of confusion and poor execution I still see today is the approach that many take to migrating files to Microsoft 365 and Office 365.

Many years ago I wrote a number of articles about this:

The classic SharePoint migration mistake

SharePoint Online – Pilers and Filers

SharePoint Online migration – Start up is key

and all of that is still valid and I recommend you read it, however the technology has moved on somewhat and it is now perhaps time for an update.

What I’ll cover here is a framework for migrating on premises data, typically on file servers in network shares, into the collaboration tools in Microsoft 365. And that’s the first point. You need to look at this across all the services Microsoft 365 provides you today. Not just SharePoint. Not just OneDrive. And not just Teams. Microsoft provides a range of services that you should consider in this file migration process.

Now many claim that because of all these options it is too complex and therefore you should just dump your data in one place. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve see exactly this, everything from a file server F: drive dumped into a single Document Library in SharePoint. Oh the pain.

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The secret of success is to have a “system” and not do things randomly without thought. Thus, my framework is shown above. Now let me break down the pieces for you.

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You firstly start with the source (on the left i.e. a file server drive) and the destinations (on the right, i.e. collaboration services in Microsoft 365).

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The first step is to filter the source information and remove (yes I said DELETE) stuff that doesn’t make sense to move. Old and duplicate files are example but I have highlighted this in more depth in a previous article:

Data discovery done right

Thus, you should now have less data to move because you have thrown some away. If you haven’t then you are not being serious about this. You should also have a better idea about what data to archive, what is user data, what is common data and so on.

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With the remaining good data you move (yes, I said move NOT copy) users personal data to their OneDrive. You actually get them to do that so firstly they get familiar with the new environment, they move only what they want to keep and you crowd source this task reducing the workload. We all know that some people will never ‘get around’ to moving their data, so after a suitable time period has elapsed you move it for them. The typically data that is moved in this process is anything on the desktop, home drive or in user profiles.

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Next, is to identify the common data by function or location and move it to a Microsoft Team. In a typical on premises file server the existing shares you will find data stored in folders like F:\Finance and F:\Administration and so on. These top level shares are most likely going to be the name of the Team and the next level down folders to be the channels inside that Team. In many cases, users may also wish to ‘clean up’ the existing or ‘start fresh’, which is also fine. However, it is relatively easy to find the data that should go into a Microsoft Team and move it there.

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The next data to move is common data that makes sense living in it’s own dedicated SharePoint Team site. Data that goes into stand alone SharePoint is data that does not require chat and conversations around it, Teams is where that data would live.

The best example here is probably Archive data. This is data the business want to keep ‘just in case’ but won’t be updated by users. Thus, you move the archive data as is, into it’s own designated SharePoint Team site, mark it as read only for everyone so they can use it as a starting point if they need to. The major advantage of moving the archive data to SharePoint is that it is now searchable using the tools in Microsoft 365.

Another good example of a stand alone SharePoint Team site would be an Extranet from which you want external parties to come and download data. Having a stand alone SharePoint Team site makes managing securities much easier.

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The data that is now left is typically company wide data like policies, procedures, manuals, etc. This is then moved into the traditional ‘Intranet’ using a nice pretty SharePoint Communications Site. This Intranet is available to all and typically used to consume data i.e. get something, read something. New data for this Intranet comes from the output of the individual Microsoft Teams created earlier. For example, imagine the Finance team produces an annual budget. They do this creation inside their own Team and publish the finished result into the Intranet for everyone in the business to consume. I’ve covered this concept in greater detail in a previous article:

The layers of Office 365 collaboration

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Now you have data all over the place inside Microsoft 365 as many will point out correctly. What’s missing is a consistent method of navigation between all these sources to make it easy for users to navigate. This is where SharePoint Hub Sites come in. You uses this to provide a consistent navigation over the top of all your data. To users this makes it all appear very logical and structured (even perhaps like their old file server) and yet provides the flexibility to be reconfigured at any stage and have those changes automatically applied across the whole structure thanks to SharePoint Hub sites.

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The final layer is Yammer. This is for company wide communications such as water cooler chat (birthdays, sports, holidays), information on how to better use Microsoft 365, questions about the business, messages from CEO, suggestion boxes, what’s happening with the business or competition, sales, wins and so on.

Like the Intranet, Yammer is designed for corporate wide chat that doesn’t fit into any specific Team (which are arranged by function or location). I have detailed the importance of Yammer in a previous article:

Why Yammer is still relevant

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Now that you have a linear framework that builds on top of itself, hopefully you have a better picture of where you can put data from a file server into Microsoft 365. Having a framework is great but more importantly is how to get users to also adapt to working in this way. My approach is to start with Yammer and OneDrive first as I have detailed previously:

Focus on the ‘Me’ services first

In short, if users get used to working with just files using OneDrive and then with just chat in Yammer, they will find it much easier to then move to Teams which is effectively files and chat combined. This thinking stems from:

The rule of three

I advocate to not over load people. This is because you need to:

Stop making your users feel stupid

You can have the greatest technology in the world but if no one uses it then it is pretty much wasted. that’s what I see with Microsoft 365. Not enough through and time is devoted to adoption and transformation. Most migrations are done as fast as possible to ‘close the ticket’ and move onto the next. The fallacy of that rushed approach is evident in failed adoption and user frustration.

So there you have it, a framework for migration of file data into the world of Microsoft 365. You can use this framework in whatever way makes sense to you. You can use all of it, none of it or as a basis for your own approach. However, the key message is to HAVE a process rather than something random. Remember, moving to a world of collaboration from a world of storage requires transformation not just migration!

Once you have the top level framework or process, you can then start developing individual frameworks and adoption processes for each piece. That is, one for OneDrive, one for Teams, One for Yammer and so on. Once you have these processes, next you can start automating them to improve reliability and allow you to scale. Without a system you can’t automate. Without automation your effectiveness and profitability continue to fall, so investing the time in a collaborate system is definitely worthwhile. It makes users happier and it makes IT more profitable! A win – win. That is what a move to Microsoft 365 should be all about!

Unable to save attachments to SharePoint Online

One of the most important things when you implement adoption is to have a positive initial experience. This typically means ‘easing’ a user’s transition during the adoption process. If too many things are different, then there is much more likely to be a negative impression of the new processes. This slows adoption and at worst, can actually halt it in its tracks.

When moving to Microsoft 365, one of the most common things that a user needs to accomplish to be able to save and add attachments to emails. They have been performing this seamlessly using on premises file servers for years. They simply select to attach and then navigate to the file, attach it, then send. Easy.

Unfortunately, as I have documented before:

Saving attachments to SharePoint

it isn’t easily done with SharePoint Online. This is really strange, given that SharePoint Online is the place where users should save and access common files in the Microsoft Cloud. Let’s take a look at the issues I’m taking about.

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So an email arrives in my inbox on Outlook on the desktop, as shown above.

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I want to upload this directly into an existing SharePoint stand alone Team Site, but as you can see the only option I have is my own personal OneDrive for Business or a range of Office 365 Groups and Teams that already exist.

Just to make sure I haven’t missed anything, I’ll select the More option at the bottom of the list.

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Now I only have the option to save to a Group (which includes Microsoft Teams). So, let’s say I select the Sales Group (which is actually a Microsoft Team).

I’m now returned to Outlook. Where did that attachment actually go?

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So, if I call up my Sales Team and rifle through all the file locations in Teams interface, I can’t find the file as you see above!

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Turns out that the attachment I saved is placed into the root of the default Document Library in the Microsoft Team as you see above. But guess what? There is no way to actually see that unless I navigate to that location via SharePoint. I actually can’t see that attachment I just saved if I’m using the Microsoft Teams app! They all end up in the root of the Documents location, which isn’t accessible in the Teams app!

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This means, that the only REAL solution for users to save the document to other locations in various SharePoint Document Libraries, is to firstly sync those destination locations to their desktop and then save the attachments the old fashioned way to the sync location so they will end up in SharePoint.

That means, to save or add attachments I firstly have to sync EVERY location I might want to save a file too!

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Outlook Web Access is actually worse than the desktop client as the only options you have are to download or save to OneDrive for Business as seen above.

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Interestingly, if I want to attach a file from a SharePoint site I can navigate to Browse Web Locations, select the Team Site I want

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and I see a Windows Explorer pane where I can navigate to locate the file I wish to attach, just like on premises days. However, the look and feel here is pretty dated and requires Windows Explorer to be working and may pop up warning dialogs which will freak most users out.

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When I use Outlook Web Access I can Browse cloud locations for an attachment

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I effectively only see my OneDrive for Business as shown above.

These experiences leave a bad taste in the mouth for users, especially first time users grasping with the ‘modern’ way of working. They need to have an experience which is pretty much identical to the one they had on premises. Why can’t we simply save and add attachments directly from SharePoint Online Team Sites like we have always been able to do from on premises network file shares?

I’m seeing this end user frustration more and more in the field and was prompted to write the article to hopefully rally the masses to get a change enacted. So the best thing you can do is visit this UserVoice request:

https://office365.uservoice.com/forums/264636-general/suggestions/18553747-please-enable-the-attachment-of-sharepoint-files-w

and vote it up.

Next, tweet about getting this enabled to the following accounts:

https://twitter.com/Outlook

https://twitter.com/SharePoint

https://twitter.com/Microsoft365

and

https://twitter.com/jeffteper

I will be!

Perhaps I’m missing something obvious here and if I am please let me know but I don’t think I am. Help me raise awareness and improve Outlook so it is easier for users to adopt Microsoft 365!

SharePoint customisation code will bite you

A very common thing I see when working with many businesses implementing collaboration solutions in Office 365, is their rigid desire to implement customisations via code to SharePoint immediately.

Many have a pre-conceived idea of what they believe an ‘intranet’ should be and operate. Thus, they want to force SharePoint to fit that model. The only way to achieve this typically is to use custom code on the site. They want lots of changes made to not only the look and feel but also the functionality prior to implementing it across the business.

I warn them strongly, that the more you customise with code the more it is likely to break and the more issues you will have down the track. A much better option, at least to start with, is to go with what Microsoft provides you out of the box. Only once you have exhausted all in the out of box options, then look at custom code. Then and only then, and when you do be prepared to continually maintain it.

As further evidence for this stance, if you take a look at this video from the recent Microsoft 2018 Ignite from 47:03

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rhYHdYn5jdQ&t=2928s

and listen to what Tracey Haun, Director, IT Collaboration and Privacy from Dupont says:

When we set up SharePoint we were so proud of ourselves for only customizing less than 5% of the environment and that less than 5% customization has come back to bite us time and time again. Every time we upgrade, every time we migrate we have to deal with these customizations. I just want to say that we were so rigid in the way that we in way we wanted to — and this is specifically around our records management and the way we classify the security classification of our sites, we were so rigid and so set in our ways on how we wanted to do that. So I highly recommend, if you are just getting started, go with the industry standard. Don’t force your business model into SharePoint. Let the it adapt to the Microsoft way.

Thus, if you want to make major changes to the way SharePoint Online works out of the box you firstly need to find a developer who is specifically experienced with SharePoint Online. Even after the job is complete, you are going to need to have someone on tap to maintain that code, because sooner or later it will break. Why? Because Microsoft makes changes and improvements to the underlying SharePoint base that will affect the code.

When that happens, and you won’t know when it will, the more you have used custom code the more catastrophic the failure of your site is going to be. If the site has become a critical part of your business, then it means that system will be down until a developer can be found to rectify the problems. That could be quite a while.

Putting your business in that situation, to me, is increasing your risk which is not something you want to do. Going with what Microsoft give you out of the box may not be “exactly” what you want but it is going to keep on working as SharePoint is updated, unlike custom code.

Of late, Microsoft has added many improvements to SharePoint and collaboration in Office 365, that really make me question why you would want custom code at all? Is it really worth the risk and costs involved?

So my STRONGEST advice when it comes to SharePoint is to use what you are given out of the box to it’s fullest. After that, if you still want changes, make sure you FULLY understand the indications and increased risk this places your business under.

I’m sure people would love desktop applications like Excel to do more but they generally don’t go making wholesale customisations via code. They tend to work with what they are given out of the box. So too, it should be with SharePoint.

CIAOPS Need to Know Office 365 Webinar–October

laptop-eyes-technology-computer

Heaps of news and update to cover from the recent Microsoft Ignite conference plus a deep dive into SharePoint is going to keep us pretty busy this month. If you want to know the latest and coolest technologies coming to your Office 365 environment plus get a better understanding of how SharePoint integrates with services like Microsoft Teams then don’t miss this month’s webinar.

You can register for the regular monthly webinar here:

October Webinar Registrations

The details are:

CIAOPS Need to Know Webinar – October 2018
Wednesday 24th of October 2018
11am – 12am Sydney Time

All sessions are recorded and posted to the CIAOPS Academy.

There of course will also be open Q and A so make sure you bring your questions for me and I’ll do my best to answer them.

The CIAOPS Need to Know Webinars are free to attend but if you want to receive the recording of the session you need to sign up as a CIAOPS patron which you can do here:

http://www.ciaopspatron.com

or purchase them individually at:

http://www.ciaopsacademy.com/

Also feel free at any stage to email me directly via director@ciaops.com with your webinar topic suggestions.

I’d also appreciate you sharing information about this webinar with anyone you feel may benefit from the session.

Need to Know Podcast–Episode 189

This is our follow up episode with Marcus Dervine from Webvine speaking about Digital Transformation. We continue with the transformation pillars that Marcus has outlined in his as the road to successful adoption of technologies like Office 365. Of course Brenton joins me again to catch you up on all the cloud news. We’ve tried to keep the update as short as we can as we noticed that the episodes are getting longer. We’ll do a deeper dive into updates in the next episode as we wanted to make sure there was plenty of time for our guest.

Take a listen and let us know what you think –feedback@needtoknow.cloud

You can listen directly to this episode at:

https://ciaops.podbean.com/e/episode-189-marcus-dervin/

Subscribe via iTunes at:

https://itunes.apple.com/au/podcast/ciaops-need-to-know-podcasts/id406891445?mt=2

The podcast is also available on Stitcher at:

http://www.stitcher.com/podcast/ciaops/need-to-know-podcast?refid=stpr

Don’t forget to give the show a rating as well as send us any feedback or suggestions you may have for the show.

Resources

@marcusdervin

@contactbrenton

@directorcia

Marcus’s book – Digital Transformation, from the inside out (use coupon code CIAOPS for 20% off)

Webvine

Azure outage

New file template management

Mass delete notification

Passwordless Login

Windows 10 sandboxing

Windows 10 Quality updates

View SharePoint external sharing setting

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Many people don’t seem to appreciate that most SharePoint sites in Office 365 are configured for sharing outside the organisation by default. This is designed to allow external parties to more easily access common content.

This means that generally, by default, users of those SharePoint sites (which includes Microsoft Teams) are going to be able to share links to that information. You can obviously disable this if you want, but generally, by default, sharing is enabled.

An easy way to see what the sharing status of your sites is current set to is to run the following PowerShell command after connecting to SharePoint Online:

get-sposite | Select-object url,sharingcapability

This will show you the one of following results:

Disabled – external user sharing (share by email) and guest link sharing both disabled

ExternalUserSharingOnly – external user sharing (share by email) enabled, but guest link sharing disabled

ExistingExternalUserSharingOnly – (DEFAULT) Allow sharing only with external users that already exist in organisation’s directory

ExternalUserAndGuestSharing – external user sharing (share by email) and guest link sharing both enabled

You can then go and make any adjustments you need to.

Don’t show folders in SharePoint

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Best practice with the structure in SharePoint is to keep things as flat as possible. This typically means avoiding multi level folders within Document Libraries because doing so reduces the visibility of information and make it hard for people to find information if they don’t understand the folder structure it lives in.

However, best practices is not what always happens I appreciate. So is there any easy way to see all in the file in a structure with a SharePoint Document Library? There certainly is and it requires working with Views.

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The recommended starting point is to navigate to the Document Library in question and then in the top right select the All Documents button. This should display a menu like shown above.

Select the Save view as option to create a duplicate of the way the Document Library is currently being displayed.

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For this example, I’m looking for Visio files in my folder structure so I’ll call this new view Visio as shown above.

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You should now see that the menu option on the right now show an item called Visio as shown, with a check to the left. This indicates that we are viewing the Document Library with a View called ‘Visio’.

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Because the ‘Visio’ view is simply a copy of the default All Documents view, we now want to go in and customise what is displayed with this View. To do this, select the Edit current view option from the menu as shown above.

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You are now taken into an area where you can customise all sorts of aspects of the current View.

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If you now scroll down to the bottom of all these options, you will find one called Folders, which you should expand as shown above. There you will find an option, Show all items without folders, which you need to select.

Scroll down to the bottom of the page and select Save to update your preferences.

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You should no be returned to the list and you should no longer see any folders but every file in the structure shown together as shown above.

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With this new list of just documents, you can select the Type column (first from the left) and from the menu that appears the Filter by option as shown above.

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On the right hand side a filter menu will appear as shown above. Here, select Visio and then the Apply button.

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You should now only see Visio files as shown above.

This has achieved our aim but, all the filtering options are temporary. If we return to this Document Library later we’ll again see a full list of files. If we want our new View to continue to show just Visio files we’ll need to go in a edit the View again and make some changes.

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Once we are again editing the Visio view we can locate the Filter section and set conditions for what we want to see. Here, I’m adding filtering on the Type column in that I only want to see VDW or VSD file types.

Again, make sure you Save you changes before exciting the editing options.

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Now, every time I go to that Document Library and select the Visio vie win the top right I will see my filtered list of all Visio files in that structure. If you want to make this new filter View the default, just go back to editing the View and select that option. Easy.

SharePoint views therefore allow to easily view your Document Libraries the traditional way with folders or roll up to single ‘non-folder’ View.