SharePoint Knowledge Base

Feb 02
Migrating File Shares to SharePoint - Part 2

This is part two of a series for migrating file shares to SharePoint, part one can be found here. Within this post we attempt to provide a practical framework to get you started and then provide enough background theory so that you can anticipate and mitigate risks involved within these types of projects. These are some of the most challenging projects to undertake and yet without question they have the most value for a company. In keeping with our mission to make SharePoint as simple as possible for everyone we have boiled down to a repeatable process to make it as simple as possible.

INITIAL Assumptions

The migration of file shares to SharePoint takes into consideration the following assumptions:

  • All file shares have been identified.
  • Executive level support (senior level as advocate or committee) for the project has been obtained.
  • A corporate records retention policy and schedule exists.
  • Most employees may not be aware of the records retention policy and may be reluctant to delete documents.
  • Training is mandatory.
  • Not all data is equal from a risk perspective.
  • Stakeholders (Legal and IT) may hesitate to take bold actions.

Getting Started

Starting a file share clean-up process can be quite an extensive project. It is important to perform a baseline analysis to fully understand the impacts the project may have across the organization. The sections below provide high-level guidance on how to get started.

Establish a project charter. The project charter will help set expectations for the group. It should include:

  • Budgets
  • Change Management
  • Communications
  • Dependency and Assumptions
  • Key Roles and Responsibilities
  • Risks and Constraints
  • Scope
  • Resources and Milestones


Identify key stakeholders that have a vested interest in cleaning up file shares. Common key stakeholders usually include:

  • Data Management
  • e-Discovery/Legal/Compliance
  • Information Security/IT
  • Records Management
  • Risk (Information Governance)
  • Senior Management

Establish a Project Team and Project Plan

Each file share clean-up project should have a project manager designated. The scope of the project will help to determine the level of effort required of team members and will establish the level of involvement of the project manager as well as the team members.

When establishing a project team, it is necessary to have involvement from many areas in the organization to help support the project's success and change management initiative. A project manager should ensure that there is representation from each of the following teams within the organization, as appropriate for your organization.

  • Corporate Communications/Change Management/Public Affairs
  • Data Strategy Group
  • Help Desk/Customer Service
  • Information Management – Big Data Experts (RIM Committee Chair)
  • IT
  • Legal/e-Discovery
  • Line of Business/SME (Subject Matter Experts)
  • Records Management
  • Risk Management
  • Security
  • Training


The project plan should provide consideration for key project milestones and deadlines. It is important to note that the team should identify what the recourse is if key deadlines are missed. Below is a sample of a high-level project plan and milestones.

  • Identify Dependencies and Assumptions
  • Inventory of Information (Analysis of Data)
  • Determine Future State and Environment
  • File Share Cleaning
    • Initial Purge
    • File Freeze
    • Final Purge
  • Review Project Outcomes
  • Develop Internal Standards and Best Practices
  • Training (Project and On-going)

Identify Dependencies and Assumptions

When the project team is identifying key tasks, milestones, and deadlines, you'll want to note any dependencies and assumptions. Some areas to consider might include:

  • Identify the specific milestones and reasonable timelines/deadlines needed for the project. Your project timeline can be constructed around the key milestones to ensure expectations can be appropriately managed throughout the project.
  • Identify progress-reporting requirements (e.g., weekly, monthly, etc.) to ensure the project team members and stakeholders are kept apprised of status.
  • Ensure you have defined what a record is and what is not.
  • Identify what file shares are in scope (department use, personal use or both) and how they are used.
  • Determine what your critical business drivers are for doing the project (compliance, reduce storage cost, minimize the cost of e-discovery, improved access to information, data analytics or data protection (protection of company assets)).
  • Identify the metrics around overall growth rate of files to establish a baseline.
  • Identify any legal hold considerations.
  • Determine if a consistent retention philosophy can be applied across platforms and areas of business and the exceptions.
  • Determine how you will handle competing priorities.
  • Ensure Records Managers and Analysts are granted read-only access to file shares to provide analysis and consultation.

Inventory of Information

Before the future state and environment can be identified, you will need to complete an inventory of the information being retained in order to gain some intelligence about the type and age of the information being created and retained. This section focuses on some methods that can be used to sort information.

  • Run an inventory report of the file share to include: full file path (including content name and extension), file size, last change date, last access date, file type, and owner. This inventory report will aid in the identification of record types, work in process (WIP), reference materials, and redundant, obsolete and trivial content (ROT). It also provides the size of the drive for before and after metrics. Note: You may need to engage IT or leverage tools such as Treesize Pro to create the reports. See example below.

TreeSize Professional - File List of R:\


Full Path


Last Change Date

Last Access Date

File Type



  • Identify content owners.
  • Determine and define which content is of business value.
  • Identify if there is information subject to legal hold, or regulatory record keeping requirements.
  • Align the content to the retention schedule.
  • Analyze the information to identify any automated processes that potentially write to file servers as well as files with links that would be broken if the information is moved.

As a part of the inventory, the project team with assistance from others in the organization should also:

  • Identify a method to determine if the ROT can be identified and easily purged.
  • Determine criteria to separate records from non-records. NOTE: If criteria to identify the records are not already established, you may have to develop some.
  • Identify what tools and technologies are available that provide analytics to help identify important data about the metadata such as last date accessed or modified.

Determine Future State and Environment

Next you will need to determine what you want your future state and environment to be for your organization.

Some key goals and principles to consider include:

  • Determine how records will be archived and retained. What will your end state repository be?
  • Determine if information will be managed in place or migrated to another system (Could be covered in the scope. If not included in the scope, this decision will be needed.) For example, if SharePoint is your future state, you can set rules to manage records in-place or move them to a records center.
  • Determine an appropriate process for addressing and managing security and privacy levels.
  • Identify the metadata and tagging to be used.
  • Identify a process for how content will be collected to support e-Discovery.
  • Establish processes for placing records on hold.
  • Establish classification rules and train the systems with examples.
  • Review/Revise classifications regularly.
  • Determine if you will use automated content classification tools.
  • Determine what your grooming policy will be and how it will be applied (Last accessed date, last modified date, date declared a record, etc.).
  • Determine if you will allow exceptions and if so, what your exception management process will be.

File Share Cleaning

The following represents some general concepts or considerations to file cleaning that have been used in numerous organizations. After reviewing the list, you will want to determine which concepts fit within your organization and then include them in your project plan.

  • Determine what information is in scope for migration – last 3 months, day forward, or on-demand (only migrate information when it's used). This will help you to determine your conversion effort.
  • Recommend assigning a data analyst to help support the effort.
  • Identify any new assumptions or any that would change over time.
  • Ensure end users and leadership are engaged in discussions early on to help manage perceptions and deliver key messages.
  • Identify key adopters throughout the organization.
  • Consider piloting with a test group first.
  • Balance being practical and not only policy oriented.
  • Determine what information is subject to a Legal hold and what actions need to be taken.
  • Start with purging information that has met its retention and identify a process for filtering in the new information.
  • Focus on high volume records and those records that are most important.
  • Establish a backup process to understand how often they were running the process and determined availability.
  • Ensure training and communications are consistent.
  • Simplify – reduce retention rules, keep them simple and scalable. Do not spend lot of time on small issues.
  • Identify the baseline and processes in place.
  • Consider the following approaches.
    • Leverage technology such as applications that could scan and tag data without user engagement.
    • Leverage governance team expertise to focus on business records and end users on administrative.
    • Leverage end users to focus on business records and governance team to focus on administrative records.
  • Leverage implemented standards.
  • Align with information security, eDiscovery, and risk.
  • Make business intelligence visible, transparent and accessible.
  • Measure success by identifying volumes before cleanup and after cleanup.


Upon completion of the inventory and file clean up, internal standards and best practices for the organization's ongoing maintenance of the files need to be finalized and published. These should include guidelines and policies for where information should be stored.

Document lessons learned from the business and the project team. Determine next steps to ensure ongoing sustainability:

  • Revise mandatory training, policies and Standard Operating Procedures (SOP's).
  • Consider developing guidelines that support where to share and where to store methodologies.
  • Determine where efforts should be focused next such as other file shares.


Questions and assistance to get started?

Please contact SimpleSharePoint and we'll be happy to engage with helping your organization to migrate its file shares to SharePoint. We will make it as simple as possible and we can start with a pilot project and show you the concepts and enable your team to do much of the work yourself. This often makes sense for an ISO document library or some key HR information.


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