In the past week, Microsoft released a new version of Office 2013 and a new home subscription version of Office 365. The next big release will be the general release of SharePoint 2013, even if we still don’t know when. To help companies that are planning to move to SharePoint 2013, or migrate from an earlier version, Dell has put together a few tasks that should get you into the right planning mode.

While many enterprises may be tempted to wait and see what the new version of SharePoint throws up -- and in some respects this make sense as we still don’t know all the details despite getting a look at the preview edition last summer -- the planning stages of the process can be done now once the company is sure that SharePoint 2013 is the path it is going to take.

Taking early initiatives will save time in the future once the process of migration actually starts. In the meantime, Chris McNulty, SharePoint Strategic Product Manager at Quest, which is now owned by Dell, outlines some of the things that companies can be doing in the white paper entitled "5 Ways to Prepare for SharePoint 2013".

Business Goals

The key in migrating successfully to the new version of SharePoint, or migrating from an earlier version to a later version is ensuring that you have a clear, business goal-oriented plan before proceeding.

By that, McNulty says, enterprises need to have a clear idea of what business outcomes they want to achieve be that achieving operational efficiencies, or simplifying current business practices. Failure to do so, or failure to implement a solid governance policy during the migration, can lead to major headaches later on. In terms of migrations, enterprises should keep in mind that:

  • Migrated content needs to be searchable
  • Migrating custom legacy applications and custom code is expensive
  • Identifying what content is to be migrated and where it is to go is a key element of the migration
  • Large migrations can lead to inflated databases that are expensive to keep
  • Migrations place a heavy burden on IT

But, if SharePoint 2013 is likely to achieve a number of business goals then don’t be put off. Enterprises can prepare their environments immediately so as to be ready to make the best of whatever new or improved features comes in the new version.

It is important to remember, and we have seen this before, that planning, rather than technology, is key to successful deployments of any new platform, possibly even more so with SharePoint. With this in mind McNulty recommends doing five things:

1. Develop a Governance Plan

For any SharePoint environment, governance is important; for the upcoming version it is absolutely key. Microsoft describes governance as a set of policies, roles or responsibilities that direct and control an organization’s business and IT department to achieve set business goals.

To do this, businesses need to define what business outcomes they wish to achieve. Moving everything onto SharePoint is not a business goal. Businesses need to examine what it is they want to achieve and see if the new platform can do that for them.

Quest SharePoint governance cycle.jpg

They need to consider where they want to be 18 months down the road and consider whether the new platform can bring them there. Businesses also need to examine whether current governance polices support business goals and whether they cover both SharePoint and non-SharePoint issues.

Finally, governance programs need to be continuously assessed to see if they are achieving the initial goals as set out in the governance plan. A systematic way of measuring results needs to be applied along with the plan from the outset.

2. Code-free Customization

Last year, in part of our coverage of SharePoint 2013, we saw that Microsoft is recommending that in this version of SharePoint, enterprises should avoid customization. However, it is unlikely that enterprises will be able to avoid it completely.

McNulty takes a more pragmatic approach and advises users to avoid complex customizations, arguing that, in general, if you “stay in the box”, migrations and upgrades will run better.