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PHOTO: Jon Tyson

Amidst the 2020 global pandemic, organizations across various industries are having to quickly adjust core business processes in order to conduct their operations remotely. Some companies are trying to make do with existing technology, finding disparate collaboration solutions to hold them over until normal activities resume. Others are using this period as an opportunity to explore how new digital workplace migration tools can jumpstart better communication and teamwork.

Regardless of when digital transformation becomes a priority, there are many key measures organizations can take to simplify the workplace migration tools selection process.

Steps to Selecting Digital Workplace Migration Tools

During a digital transformation, one of the most important decisions an organization will make is what workplace migration tools they will use. This decision will directly impact the implementation timeline of the transformation, so it’s important to choose tools that are reliable and customizable. In a standard migration, most companies end up using an average of three different tools to execute on various tasks. To narrow down the tool selection process, organizations need to perform certain critical activities:

Content Discovery & Analysis

Content discovery and analysis are the core first stage of the tools selection process and absolutely need to be done to ensure a successful migration. During the discovery and analysis, the following is documented and aligned on:

  1. Content Size: One of the most important factors for driving tools selection is the size/amount of content. This impacts whether or not you can consider both free and paid content migration tools. Many free tools have limits on the amount of content that can be migrated, so if there’s a significant amount, free tools might not be an option.
  2. Migration Timeline: The amount of content directly impacts the migration timeline. Although hard to forecast, aligning on a timeline in advance is extremely important — some organizations face strict time-constraints. If a fast migration is a must, then it might be a good idea to only consider cloud to cloud migration tools.
  3. Budget and Cost: Both the amount of content and the migration timeline are determining factors of how much the digital transformation will cost. The more content there is and the quicker the migration has to happen, the more expensive it will be. Whether or not you need a server to server migration or can migrate using cloud tools will also impact cost.
  4. Custom Needs: If a migration needs any customization, like specific security compliance measures, or special system administration permissions setup, this will increase both the time and the cost of the implementation.

Related Article: Even With SharePoint Migration Tools, Planning Is Required

Development of Tools Selection Matrix

Many additional factors go into migration tools selection aside from the four primary considerations listed above. To accurately compare tool options against specific criteria, we recommend the development of a tool selection matrix. Some of the most common evaluation criteria include:

  1. Investment in Free or Paid Tools: While free tools sound tempting, they often are still in beta — making them susceptible to bugs. Fixing bugs within the content migration process takes significant time and effort. Unless an organization is able to work closely with the tool's product team, it’s often not worth the gamble to use free tools over paid alternatives.
  2. Use of Native Tools or Third-Party Integrations: Some native tools lack certain migration capabilities or are unnecessarily complex. Investing in third-party integrations can provide organizations with the functionalities needed to ensure a smooth implementation. 
  3. Inclusion of Two-Way Sync: Often referred to as hybrid migration tools, those that include two-way synchronization are ideal for clients who need to undergo a content migration but aren’t able to stop operations. These clients need the ability to work in their current platform while the migration is occurring — requiring the ability to push information from one platform into another and vice versa.
  4. Inclusion of Custom Script Creation: Some migration tools offer the ability to create custom scripts, others don’t. This is most valuable if there’s a need to alter the way data is mapped during the migration process.

Related Article: Plan for Migration Success With Search

Common Workplace Migration Tools

Below are some of the most common platforms we’ve used across our digital transformation engagements.

Third Party Tools

When we refer to “third-party” tools, we’re typically referring to anything outside the Microsoft ecosystem, since it’s arguably the most widely used digital transformation platform. Two of the most popular third-party migration tools are:

  1. BitTitan’s MigrationWiz
  2. Sharegate

Native Microsoft Tools

There are four commonly used native Microsoft migration tools:

  1. Mover — assists Box, Dropbox and Egnyte migration into OneDrive and SharePoint
  2. SharePoint On-Premises (2010 and 2013) to SharePoint Online
  3. Built-In Exchange Migration Tool — assists with G Suite to Exchange
  4. Built-In Azure Migration Tool — assists with things outside of Office 365 toolset to move other workloads to the cloud.

Related Article: A Simple Matrix for Managing Office 365

The Future State of Digital Transformation Migration Tools

Microsoft will likely continue to commoditize workplace migration tools, but third-party platforms can gain a competitive edge by branching out into the consulting services sector. They can drive additional value through service offerings beyond tool capabilities that include things like:

  1. Cost-Optimization: Cost optimization services help users ensure clients are using their digital transformation tools in the most cost-effective way they can. This type of service can reduce the amount of storage, which can save on how much workplace technologies cost each month, hour, or even minute.
  2. Cloud Management: Cloud management services can provide users with the training needed to extract valuable business intelligence insights from digital transformation platforms. This includes the creation of robust analytics and intelligence dashboards to support all-levels of decision making.