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South coast council migrates to SharePoint Online hero image

South coast Council migrates to SharePoint Online

This south coast council, with around 4,000 employees, provides social care, housing, city management and other local services for its 280,000 residents.

Technology used :

SharePoint Online

South coast council migrates to SharePoint Online hero image
What were the challenges?
  • Patching and maintenance difficult
  • Admin burden excessive
  • Hardware at end-of-life
  • Datacentre was being decommissioned.
  • Functions and features inconsistent
What was the solution?
  • Silversands asked to provide consultancy to migrate to SharePoint Online
  • Migration assessment, information architecture, governance planning, and migration plan developed
  • Migration process undertaken as joint collaboration between Silversands and the council’s SharePoint team
What were the results?
  • Admin and hardware burden considerably reduced
  • Service reliability improved
  • Much improved functionality, searching and compatibility provided by SharePoint Online
  • Integration with Teams and OneDrive enables improved collaboration opportunities
  • Full integration with Microsoft 365 suite now possible
  • The council is delighted with the successful completion of the project

The Background 

The council, like many organisations, has been running a SharePoint 2007 platform to support its project collaboration and intranet requirements. However, there were several issues with the continued use of this platform, including:

  • Patching and maintenance were difficult and time-consuming
  • Hardware was end-of-life
  • The datacentre was being decommissioned
  • Functions and features were inconsistent
  • User experience was generally poor
  • Integration with Microsoft 365 was inadequate.

An upgrade was clearly required, and since the council’s general strategy is towards the cloud, a move to SharePoint Online was the natural option. The project was initially conceived as a general SharePoint/collaboration migration, together with an information architecture and governance design. The intranet update was factored into a separate project.

Once the project was defined, the council invited proposals from a number of companies and ultimately selected Silversands as its preferred partner.

“With long-term experience and expertise in SharePoint, we were the ideal partner to help the council achieve its goal to migrate into SharePoint Online.” 

Colin Gray, Account Manager, Silversands

  • Sharepoint 2007 platform had extensive physical infrastructure
  • Impending datacentre decommissioning
  • High admin and maintenance burden
  • Poor integration with Microsoft 365 apps
  • Inconsistent functionality
  • Poor user experience
<p><em>“It was great working with the council’s SharePoint team because they were open to accepting new ideas, embraced the new platform and were absolutely committed to the project. Their positivity was refreshing and this really helped the migration and adoption of the new platform to be completed successfully.”</em></p>

“It was great working with the council’s SharePoint team because they were open to accepting new ideas, embraced the new platform and were absolutely committed to the project. Their positivity was refreshing and this really helped the migration and adoption of the new platform to be completed successfully.”

David Johnson, M365 Consultant, Silversands

The Solution 

At the start of our engagement with the council, we ran a migration assessment. This allowed us to identify the structure and content of the source environment, determine what was to be migrated, and consider any prerequisites, priorities and requirements for the migration.  Following the assessment, and in conjunction with the council team, we created a migration plan so that the council had complete visibility of what content was to be migrated, in what order and any other relevant information.

In parallel with the migration assessment, the information architecture and governance plan were developed so that a baseline was ready for day one of the migration.

A key design decision for the new SharePoint platform was to migrate to modern team sites and flatten the hierarchy to simplify the site structure, making it easier for users to navigate and administer.

Once the initial design work and planning was complete, the migration work started. Since there are no native Microsoft tools that will support a content migration from SharePoint 2007, the Sharegate tool was used, along with some custom scripting to create the many sites that were required.

As is typical with Sharepoint migration projects, the initial stages involved a pilot migration for a small group of staff, to test the approach and user impact, and to provide confidence that the project would deliver an effective solution to the users.

Once the pilot had been completed successfully, the remainder of the migration was carried out over several weeks, as a collaboration between our consultants and the council’s SharePoint team.  The migration process was designed to minimise disruption to the users and prevent issues such as document orphaning or duplication during the site transitions.

As a nod to the future, the opportunity was also taken to recreate several sites in Microsoft Teams, so that this new way of working could be evaluated.

Since the council is focused on maximising user productivity and ease of use, a user adoption programme was defined for each of the different directorates.

The adoption programme was designed by our consultants and delivered by the council’s internal training team.  This approach helped the users to understand the migration process and, more importantly, how to interact with the new platform most effectively and efficiently.

  • Migration assessment completed to understand source content and requirements
  • Migration plan created
  • Governance plan designed
  • Information architecture developed
  • Sharegate tool and custom scripts used to complete content migration
  • Some content recreated as Teams to be a pilot
  • User adoption process helped users acclimatise to new platform

The Results 

The migration to a modern SharePoint Online platform has created significant benefits for the council.

The administration overhead has been considerably reduced, particularly as there is no longer a complex hardware infrastructure to patch, maintain or upgrade.  The reliability of the service has also been improved.

Of course, the step up from SharePoint 2007 to SharePoint Online also means that the available functionality is vastly improved, resulting in better user experiences, improved searching, and compatibility with current browsers. Full integration with the rest of the Microsoft 365 suite enables several new opportunities, including the use of Teams and OneDrive for Business.

The council is delighted with our contribution, the minimal user disruption, and the fact that it now has a platform that is easier to look after, more capable, more reliable and more effective at supporting the council’s needs.

  • Complex hardware infrastructure decommissioned
  • Reduced admin overhead
  • Service reliability improved
  • Enhanced functionality available
  • Better user experience
  • Improved search
  • Full integration with rest of Microsoft 365 suite now available