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In our experience it is rare to simply move a 2013 SharePoint on premise file structure “as is” to SharePoint online. There seems to be two main drivers for this. Firstly, the original implementation was often burdened by an overly complex metadata structure resulting in poor take up of the system or very disgruntled users who were expected to enter copious amounts of metadata prior to filing. The second aspect is simply that SharePoint online encourages a flatter file structure.

When moving to SharePoint Online, there are lots of things to consider and it can be overwhelming. Whether it’s with search, content types, future-proofing, integration, sub sites vs site collections, Teams or Groups, retention labels or retention policies, as-is or data transformation, existing structure or reorganisation, standardisation or conflicting business requirements, existing permissions model or clean-slate. This covers some of the data aspects and then of course there is the apps and integrations that have been developed over time and are an intrinsic part of your business processes – these too will need migrating.

On the data side, this requires a well thought through migration strategy and accompanying migration plan that aligns not just the physical movement of data and documents, but also the communications and training requirements of each department as they are moved across.

On the apps side there are further strategies to explore and the tendency at present is to use third party products as a last resort and try and do everything in native Microsoft technology. This often means implementation of the Microsoft Power Suite (PowerApps, Power BI, Power Automate etc) for the simple line of business solutions and custom webparts calling out to Azure for the more complex requirements.