Migration Planning: Mapping the File Landscape

When starting a major enterprise Microsoft Office upgrade, we always tell our clients that most of their files will upgrade just fine, roughly 90% will upgrade without issue. But that leaves 10% that won’t.

It’s uncertain how many enterprises quantify how much these problem files will affect their migration. Most companies don’t know how many files they have. If you ask IT, they’ll quote you terabytes of data. But how many of these are Word or Excel files. And what’s in these files?

Let’s assume you have 1 million files and 90% will migrate without issue. That leaves 100,000 files that need to be remediated. Associate the cost of manual remediation (find, test, open and fix) with that number and you’ll have a bit of a surprise. Now, what if you have 5 million or 10 million files, like a lot of enterprises do? You have to budget for these kind of issues, as it can get pretty costly.

Now you are aware of the problem, but how do you fix it? the first thing you do is start quantifying the files you have, map your file landscape. How many duplicates do you have? How many files are archived? How many should you really fix and which are less important?

An IT specialist may not have access to the files the Financial department has, for example. Before running your discovery, identify within each group the major file owners and make sure either yourself or they can run discovery and have the necessary permissions to get the information you’re looking for.

Then there’s the issue of who really owns the files that are in a company? If you ask IT, they’ll tell you flat out that they didn’t make them, therefor the business unit owns them. But if you’re going through a migration, the files automatically become IT’s responsibility. If the files have an issue post-migration, it will be the IT department that will need to troubleshoot.

How would you go about finding and discovering files on individual user’s desktop? These files aren’t in the company’s network, they’re stored locally, on each user’s PC. Do you have a methodology for this? Discovery can go about and find files like these, even for those who do not have back-ups in the network.

Once you identify and quantify your files, take a moment to think of the type of files you have. Do you honestly need to upgrade all of these? Sort them by date: date created/ date last modified/ last opened. If no one has opened a file in over 2 years, it’s safe to say your employees might not need it immediately. So focus on the ones that were opened or modified in the past year and a half. You can either leave the other files on the former platform, or upgrade them later.

ConverterTechnology’s DiscoverIT solution can tell you which files have VBA code or macros and links. You might have a low number, such as 1% overall. But if you take a look at different departments, the marketing unit might be all clean, while finance might be chock full of codes and links. These are much more likely to not upgrade without a glitch. After you identify your problematic departments you can plan. Focus your efforts where they are most likely needed.

What if you’re already in the office deployment process and you have encountered all these issue? Most likely you have no budget for remediation, as you haven’t anticipated these issues. And in most enterprises you can’t take certain files down for a week or so. Your employees depend on them in order to do their jobs. So you can’t afford remediation AND you can’t afford not to have them work. This is why planning is crucial.

The first step in migrating to a new version of Office is planning: identifying what files you have, which are most important to you and which are most likely to fail when migrating. We are here to help and we have different solutions that can solve these issues in any company.