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Best Practices for Microsoft Teams Migration

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Migrating Microsoft Teams requires careful planning to limit tenant sprawl and content chaos.

When two weather fronts collide, the likely outcome is a storm. These days, that’s what we’re seeing with migrations when the app in question is Microsoft Teams. The growing number of mergers and acquisitions is bumping into the rise of remote work — and creating a perfect storm for IT pros.

Microsoft Teams Migration Challenges

When there are no pre-migration processes in place for a collaboration tool like Microsoft Teams, things can quickly get out of control.

If you take time to understand the specific headaches of migrating Teams data from one tenant to another, however, your migration has a much better chance to go smoothly. The first thing you’ll need to do is proactively address the issues of both Teams sprawl and content chaos. (Read also: 11 Essential Steps for Implementing SaaS.)

Microsoft Teams Sprawl

Right now, a lot of Office 365 customers are feeling the pain of Teams sprawl. Sprawl is the uncontrolled growth of outdated, duplicated or never-used data. The overwhelming accumulation of irrelevant information made possible by Microsoft Teams can cause massive problems for information technology (IT) administrators.

Sprawl has two root causes — the sheer amount of interactions that occur on Teams on a daily basis and a lack of data governance policies for managing the content produced by those interactions.

Teams’ growth during the pandemic has been explosive. As of last July, Microsoft reported that Teams had over 250 million monthly users. The understandable rush to “get it done quickly” without making governance a priority is the primary reason many organizations are dealing with so much sprawl right now.


Microsoft Teams Content Chaos

Unfortunately, sprawl is tightly coupled with content chaos — a situation that occurs when no one really knows where content is being stored or who has permission to access specific types of data. When there’s content chaos in play, it becomes easier to for disgruntled employees to move sensitive data from private to public channels.

To add to the chaos, many loyal employees save documents locally and share them that way because they’re unfamiliar with Teams or don’t trust using it. This negates the entire point of Teams — harnessing the cloud to improve collaboration while also keeping corporate data assets secure.

Fortunately, there are some best practices that can help ensure your Teams migration is orderly and successful.

Best Practices for MS Teams Migration

Before any data moves, it’s vital to create a migration plan. This is your chance to craft data governance policies that will guide the organization through the migration. (Read also: Reaching for the Clouds Without Flying Too Close to the Sun.)

A good plan begins by asking questions that will help managers think through the migration. Who gets access to what data and when? How will permissions work? During planning, organizations should develop “champions” in different parts of the organization who understand the needs of users and are empowered to set up teams and channels to fit those needs.

Every migration should begin with an audit to ensure you understand what data and which users you will need to migrate. This is one of the biggest challenges of a migration. You’ll need to decide ahead of time what data won’t be migrated.

Quite often, there are overinflated user expectations about how perfectly the destination environment will match the source. Let stakeholders know ahead of time that a move-everything approach isn’t usually possible.

Once the audit’s complete, it’s time to create a pre-migration checklist. Your checklist should include concrete steps for how you plan to address any issues identified in the audit — including how you plan to handle any naming conflicts between teams and channels.

Your pre-migration checklist should also include a plan for QA testing and how permissions should work post-migration. During testing, make sure to clearly communicate with end users about what data will and won’t be migrated. This kind of pre-migration communication is key in keeping expectations realistic.

Once users understand of the scope of the migration, it’s time to develop training plans that can be accessed easily and clearly communicate best practices for data governance. (Read also: What are some core principles of data governance?)

It’s important to keep the user experience top-of-mind. This might sound obvious, but if the end user is lost in their new environment, then all the work that went into making your migration seamless will be wasted.

Migrations can be challenging, especially in today’s environment. Hopefully, my sharing this hard-won knowledge will help your organization successfully migrate Teams and optimize its use going forward.


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Antonio Vargas
Manager of Solutions Engineering
Antonio Vargas
Manager of Solutions Engineering

Antonio Vargas is manager of solutions engineering for BitTitan. He is a Microsoft Certified Solutions Master in Messaging with vast experience in Microsoft Exchange, Office 365, Microsoft Azure and PowerShell.In his spare time, he is a technical writer and co-authors technical books as well as curating his own blog, where he shares his experience and thoughts around Microsoft technologies.