Still using SharePoint On-Premises? Here’s why (and how) you should migrate to SharePoint Online

With a reported 85% of Fortune 500 companies using SharePoint Online, if you’re still using SharePoint On-Premises, perhaps it’s time for a change?

We understand that migration can seem daunting. Common concerns include the complexity of the process, the volume of data that needs to be migrated, the lack of governance in the existing SharePoint On-Premises environment, and customizations developed to meet specific business needs.

Clients often worry about security during migration and the potential for business disruptions. Many are dependent on legacy systems or customizations within SharePoint On-Premises that may need to be replaced.

However, let’s set those concerns aside for a moment and explore the benefits of migrating to SharePoint Online…

The Benefits of SharePoint Online

1. Scalability and Flexibility

As a cloud-based platform, SharePoint Online eliminates the need for physical infrastructure, allowing you to scale up or down to meet your organizational needs effortlessly.

2. Costs Savings and IT efficiency

By migrating to SharePoint Online, you can eliminate the need for costly hardware, reducing maintenance expenses and energy bills. With its subscription model, you only pay for the storage and services you use. Additionally, automatic updates and patches free up your IT team to focus on other business priorities.

3. Access Anytime, Anywhere

As SharePoint Online is cloud-based, your employees can access data from anywhere on any devise, supporting modern workplace trends of remote and hybrid working.

4. Enhanced security and compliance

SharePoint Online complies with Microsoft’s security standards.

It provides multiple layers of physical security, data mining protection, multi-factor authentication, and regular backups, giving your peace of mind. 

5. Seamless Integration with Microsoft 365

SharePoint Online integrates seamlessly with Microsoft 365, facilitating streamlined workflows across the Microsoft ecosystem. Features like co-authoring and version history tracking enhance collaboration and productivity.

6. Automatic Updates and Enhancements

As a SharePoint Online user, you benefit from automatic updates and enhancements, ensuring you always have access to the latest features, security updates, and performance improvements.

7. Advanced Content Management and Experiences with SharePoint Premium

By leveraging SharePoint Premium, you can unlock advanced content management capabilities and enhanced user experiences. Automate business processes, improve search accuracy, and manage compliance risk to proactively analyze and reduce content sprawl, providing a more efficient and organized environment.

Ensuring a Smooth Migration from SharePoint On-Premises to SharePoint Online

So, the benefits of migrating to SharePoint Online are clear, but how can you ensure a smooth transition with minimal disruption to your business?

Here are some key considerations for a successful migration from SharePoint On-Premises to SharePoint Online:

Prepare the groundwork

Before you do anything, conduct an inventory of your existing SharePoint environment so you know what content there is, how it’s used, and its business value. Establish clear objectives for the migration, focusing on enhanced collaboration, remote accessibility, reducing costs, and the utilization of new features. Additionally, review any customizations in your current environment and assess their compatibility with SharePoint Online.

Spring Clean your environment

Take the opportunity to spring clean your existing SharePoint environment. Archive or delete outdated content, unused sites, or irrelevant data. Also, consider reorganizing content for better structure and navigation in SharePoint Online.

Choose Your Approach

Do you want to migrate all your content at once, or take a phased approach? Taking a phased approach can reduce risk and help with change management, particularly if you’re in a large organization. Migration tools such as SharePoint Migration Tool (SPMT) or the SharePoint Migration Assessment Tool (SMAT) can help with simple migrations, but for more complex scenarios, consider working with a Microsoft Partner, like Cloudwell.

Get Ready for Lift Off

Set up and configure your SharePoint Online tenant, including settings for security, branding, compliance, and governance according to your organizational requirements. Then, design your information architecture in SharePoint Online, considering modern best practices for site hierarchy, navigation, and metadata.

Keep Everyone in the Loop

Keep users informed about the migration process, including timelines and what to expect. Also, consider providing training on SharePoint Online features and functionalities. The SharePoint Success Site is a ready to deploy and customizable SharePoint communication site that helps your organization maximize the adoption of SharePoint.

Time to Migrate

Always carry out a test migration with a subset of content to help identify any issues on a small scale. If you’re migrating in phases, monitor and validate each batch so any necessary adjustments can be made.

Mission Accomplished

Once the process is complete, check that all your content has migrated successfully. Redirect traffic from your old On-Premises sites to the new SharePoint Online sites. Enjoy your new environment and the enhanced opportunities it offers.

Migration Aftercare

Provide support to address any post-migration issues or concerns. Establish governance policies for your new SharePoint Online environment to ensure growth and content life-cycle management, as well as user adoption.

Your SharePoint Online Migration Partner

Of course, working with a Microsoft partner can make the whole process even easier. At Cloudwell, we have years of experience migrating our customers from SharePoint On-Premises to SharePoint Online, and we’ve developed a tried and tested method based on Microsoft’s best practices.

Phase One: Explore

In this phase, we’ll work with you to understand the scope, gather information, and take an inventory of your existing environment. We assess the complexity of your existing system, the amount of data to be moved, the number of sites, and the number of servers. Towards the end of the discovery phase, we’ll create a plan and layout the architecture of your new environment, detailing site structures, document locations, and workflow outlines.

Phase Two: Align

This is a collaborative phase. Working with your in-house tech team and internal stakeholders, such as department heads, we’ll set objectives. For each department or stakeholder, we’ll identify their unique challenges and create scenarios, exploring questions like:

  • Does it solve a real problem?
  • Is the objective obtainable? 
  • Will it be widely used (how many people?)
  • How much value will it bring?

We will then work with your team to determine priorities and set out a roadmap for the project, beginning with highest priorities.

Phase Three: Implement

The implementation phase starts with your company’s top priorities. At this stage, we build workflows and write code, collaborating with your team to ensure the new business processes match expectations. For example, if your HR department has an on-boarding process that we’re rebuilding, we’ll work closely with your head of HR to ensure that the new workflows behave as expected, ensuring no interruption to business processes after migration.

Phase Four: Engage

In the final phase, once the migration has been completed, we’ll work with your team to ensure everything is running smoothly. We’ll also recommend ways to use the new tools available to you to enhance the SharePoint environment, driving greater efficiency and productivity. For example, PowerApps forms offer a more effective way to create a ticketing system compared to using SharePoint lists and libraries. This feature-rich tool provides better analytics, making it easier to monitor and report on ticket status and assignment.

Cloudwell Customizations

We’re huge SharePoint advocates here at Cloudwell, but we also understand there may be gaps to fill if you’re considering a move to SharePoint Online, including legacy customizations that aren’t compatible with the new environment. As Microsoft DevOps, Power Platform, Azure, and Viva specialists, we can build any Web Part that you need.

Our existing suite of apps, including Calendar Overlay, Team Members, Staff Directory, and Viva Announcements, were all developed to fill gaps in SharePoint functionality. Find out more about our suite of productivity tools.


So, if you’re still using SharePoint On-Premises but want to reap the benefits of SharePoint Online, get in touch with the Cloudwell team and we’ll help you make a smooth transition.