Migration to Microsoft Teams: What are the challenges of moving from other Platforms?

March 11, 2020

Imagine your mission is to introduce Microsoft Teams in your company and establish it as the main medium for collaboration by replacing all other collaboration and communication tools you have used in the past. Up to now, data has been stored in different systems: File shares, databases, various cloud storage providers or SharePoint server team- and project sites. And let’s assume that until now your project and team data was saved in a structured way.

“And now we have Teams and everything changes!?”

 Everyone can store data as they wish – unstructured but always accessible? This would be the ideal vision. Unfortunately, the technology is not mature enough to structure our data on its own. We still need to implement a reasonable structure to make our data more accessible to our colleagues – this can be challenging in Microsoft Teams sometimes. Before you enable Microsoft Teams as a powerful tool for your daily work, you should prepare a roadmap and be aware of the organizational challenges associated with the introduction of Teams.

Let’s take a look at ten questions you should ask yourself for a successful migration and adoption of Microsoft Teams:


1. Are the involved project stakeholders familiar with the Microsoft Teams architecture?

Microsoft Teams is based on known tools and technologies from Microsoft. However, not everyone is aware of this. For example, all team documents are stored in SharePoint, and documents from one to one or group chats are stored in OneDrive.  

When planning a migration, it is often overlooked that an existing team workspace in SharePoint on-premises should be migrated first – before a team for the same purpose is created and used in Microsoft Teams. 

Why? This gives the organizational team the unwanted opportunity to store their data in several places (MS Teams, SharePoint workspace, etc.). This leads to confusion.

2. Which data will be migrated?  

Keep in mind that before we have used Teams as a collaboration and communication tool, we did these tasks with other tools.  

Especially for data storage, it is crucial to elaborate on whether legacy systems should co-exist or not. Also, keep in mind that not all documents in your company are in Office formats or PDFs.

As an example: image data access must be fast and easy. SharePoint/Teams are not always suitable for those purposes. Additionally, you should consider basic architecture for the stored information and its types. However, the list of supported file formats is growing continuously. CAD files, for instance, can now be visualized in SharePoint and OneDrive (AutoCAD File Preview).

 3. Should we clean up data before we migrate?  

“Let’s migrate first and think second!” This is not an unusual statement. 

Seriously, when you move into a new apartment, you don’t take all your old stuff you don’t need anymore, do you?  

Yes, it is a lot of work managing a clean-up. It takes time and a lot of coordination and communication with your colleagues/employees. Structuring, organizing and throwing away data that is no longer needed, makes life easier for us: both during the migration — less data — and afterward — searchability.  

4. Why is a governance concept important?  

Imagine from tomorrow on you can use Teams and there are no specifications as to what can be stored, who is allowed to create a Team, which naming conventions have to be used etc. Among many other issues, you should brace yourself for many teams named “Test”,”TEST1” etc.

Even if we want to go live with Teams right away, governance is essential to prevent this collaboration workspace from plunging into chaos.  

Try to involve all stakeholders who can contribute beneficially to this change project and do it in advance – it’ll take time. Data protection representatives, works council, department representatives, IT decision-makers and the project sponsors are just an extract of extremely important shareholders who can contribute to a proper governance concept.  

5. Managing Teams lifecycle or self-service?

It is not easy to find the balance between having a self-service where everyone can create a Team and managing the lifecycle by implementing complicated approval chains for a Team request.

Allowing everyone to create a Team leads to chaos – it’s guaranteed. Too many restrictions and a complicated request process, on the other hand, will decrease the acceptance and discourage people to use the platform. Try to find the golden means to be able to keep overhead low and to comply with rules. Managing the lifecycle, defining rules and using naming conventions makes life easier.

Especially at the beginning and after the go-live, we want to convince our employees how collaboration and communication can be strengthened even more by using a new tool.  

6. Which security regulations must be considered?  

It is not uncommon to deal with sensitive data like personal or patent-relevant data.

You should write down guidelines and rules in a governance concept that are suitable for your organization. Additionally, the technical implementation must be provided as well. In Microsoft Teams you can use various Office 365 information protection tools, for instance ensuring security by using conditional access or by setting up compliance where Data Loss Protection is used for sensitive data. It is very important to provide timely information to the involved stakeholders about all these possibilities. It’s all about awareness as a preparation process for early adoption.  

7. Does it still make sense to use SharePoint without Teams?

Yes, it does. A simple example: The HR team has internal working documents and organizes itself across several teams in the Microsoft Teams application. Final documents and templates are made available to all employees and should be stored structured. MS Teams is not suitable for this purpose. A SharePoint communication site where HR provides all important employee information would fit the bill.    

8. How do you handle communication with your partners?

You probably already use different platforms for the communication and organization of online meetings. You might use Skype for Business or platforms from other providers like Cisco or Google. In either case, the interaction with partners should also take place on the new platform. Be aware of the platform and software dependencies of your partners and try to anticipate possible showstoppers in advance.  

9. How do you deal with change management and user adoption? 

We often hear: “Change Management? Adoption? We don’t have a budget for this”. You don’t have to invest in change management, if you want your project to fail.

There are no benefits of having a tool that technically meets all requirements and works flawlessly, with a nearly non-existent, demotivated and not well-prepared user base.  

By the way, user adoption is not just about training. User adoption is a process that accompanies us during the project. It’s a process where employees are involved and informed in time. Adoption continues after the project where it is continuously measured and improved.  

The costs of neglecting user adoption can be crippling when a vast majority of your users are not adopting and refusing to use Microsoft Teams.  

10. What happens after the go-live? 

After the go-live work is far from over. In addition to ensuring user adoption, there are always new features, template/solution developments or process integrations. One thing is for sure: It will not be boring.  

These are just an extract of the most important aspects that you should consider before you plan to move from other platforms to Microsoft Teams.  

If you clarify the most important prerequisites and requirements for moving to Microsoft Teams, there is nothing to prevent this tool for being a successful communication and collaboration platform.

Collaboration means two-way communication!

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