1. Only migrate the active and useful documents
Well, that’s easily said but hard to achieve in practice. Chances are the users won’t really know their content and secondly, there is a natural reluctance to delete anything. The smart way to deal with this dilemma is to promise the users you won’t delete anything by moving all the content they “probably” don’t need to an archive area. Access to this archive area is restricted to a few power users who have the rights to release archive content to the production area if and when it's needed.
With the above principal agreed the next step is to automate the identification of the archive content as much as possible but then always give the users the final say. One approach is to use a combination of the last modified date and (if available) the number of “hits” since a certain date. An excel spreadsheet provides a suitable format to document the files and this can be used by a migration tool to move the content to either the archive area or the production area.
2. Improving search results after the content is migrated into SharePoint
For any sizeable migration, it's worth performing a trial migration and checking the search function is delivering the expected results. Here are a few transformations and good practices worth considering:
- The clickable link in search results is the document’s Title property. Take care to ensure this is meaningful and isn’t left to SharePoint to make a guess based on document contents. For Office documents, the Title property is stored within the document itself in addition to SharePoint, these two usually being synchronised – change one and the other changes too.
- Try and supply a document title explicitly rather than leave it to SharePoint to guess. SharePoint doesn’t understand the contents of the document and will use text from the page heading, the first paragraph heading on the first page or the text before the first full stop. If the document contains a numbered list (eg a meeting agenda or meeting minutes) the document title shown in search results may be 1 – the text before the first full stop. It’s not unknown for it to extract metadata from an image in the header and use that as the document title (eg Image Size 800 x 600). If the quality of search results is important, a title should be provided for each document.
- PowerPoint Presentations default to the title PowerPoint Presentation; this should be changed as soon as possible to provide a more useful heading and avoid search results being flooded with PowerPoint Presentation.
- If a document has a Title property set to Quarterly Budget Jan 2018 and that document is copied as the starting point for the next quarter, the new document will retain the source’s title and there will be two results with the title Quarterly Budget Jan 2018.
- Avoid setting the Title property to the same value as the file name; they are separate resources and should each be used accordingly. Keep file names relatively short (50 characters max) and use the title to provide a more useful, human-friendly summary – like the title on the spine of a book.
- Word documents in .DOC format can perform less well in search results than the more modern.DOCX format, and the same applies to other Office formats (such as .xls and .xlsx. Updating these formats is a laborious manual process but can be automated using macros or other development tools.
- Documents with hard links to other documents in a legacy document management system or file share need to be updated with their new location in SharePoint. This is another laborious process that benefits from automation.
3. Extracting metadata from file paths
Migrating documents from file shares (and some other environments) can make use of the file path to generate metadata values (perhaps in the Enterprise Keywords column). For example: M:\Finance\Sales Ledger\Accounts\2016\March\Reconciliation\budget.xlsx This path contains potentially useful metadata that can be used to tag the document in SharePoint.
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Author: Paul Turnbull, Managing Director at Deltascheme