Lessons Learned: Lotus Notes to SharePoint Migrations

Strategic Planning for Lotus Notes to SharePoint Migrations: Lessons Learned

As a Lotus Notes consultant who made the transition to SharePoint over 5 years ago, I’ve been involved in over a dozen Lotus Notes to SharePoint migrations over the years. One of the biggest mistakes companies make when migrating from Lotus Notes to SharePoint is not spending the time upfront defining their goals and creating a detailed migration plan. Too often I see Notes administrators get hurried into just moving their content over. The results are always bad. Upset users, lost content, critical apps that stop working and more. With a good plan, a Lotus Notes to SharePoint migration can go smoothly. There are four basic areas when it comes to planning a Lotus Notes to SharePoint migration 1) Assessment – Get to know your client’s environment 2) Define Architecture & Solutions 3) Prototype & Customization 4) Rollout and Support In this article, I will talk about the assessment phase of the Lotus Notes migration as this is the most important step. If you don’t plan properly your migration will suffer the consequences! There are 4 things to consider during the assessment phase: 1) Define Business & Migration Objectives 2) Client Culture and Expectations 3) Analysis of Lotus Notes Environment. – Inventory your current implementation – Plan for differences in features – Set roles and responsibilities – Communicate with client migration team 4) Analyze Results


This phase is vital. You need to understand what your client wants from this migration. Do they want to migrate only certain applications, and not others? How long will they be keeping the Notes environment after the migration? Is their goal to completely shut down Lotus Notes, or to continue hosting some applications in that environment? When I’m working with clients on a migration project, I try to find out why they are seeking to migrate from Lotus Notes to SharePoint. Do they already have a migration path in mind, or are they looking for best practices and help in that process? Have they defined environment goals, such as SharePoint On-Prem or SharePoint Online, or do they need guidance in that area? A clearly defined migration goal is essential to the entire migration process.


This is a part of the process that shouldn’t be ignored. It’s important to know how your company culture will react to this change. Are they more adaptable to change, or will this be a hurdle to overcome? It’s important to discuss how things will change and what they can expect from those changes. This is where it’s important to provide examples of how SharePoint works, and the differences between Lotus Notes and SharePoint. I like to showcase past SharePoint engagements and work we’ve done to help users envision how the new tool will work and what they can expect.


Inventory your current implementation The next step is to carry out a complete inventory of your current system and ascertain how to best deal with the amount and type of data. A common mantra I like to use is “Remove, Migrate, or Rebuild”. For example, a simple document library would be a category of Migrate, where a more complex form with workflow would be Rebuild. Going through this exercise helps establish what is most important to migrate, what can be scrapped altogether, and what needs to be rebuilt. Plan for differences in features A good way to describe a Lotus Notes to SharePoint migration is putting a square peg in a round hole. You can make it fit by changing the structure, but it will need a little help when it comes to features. Lotus Notes utilizes its own formula language, as well as Lotus Script and Java Script. Part of the inventory stage should be to determine what applications in your inventory use more advanced Lotus Notes features. For those, consider if they can be incorporated into the 2nd wave of migration. Set roles and responsibilities One big mistake that companies make when planning a migration is putting it completely in the hands of the IT department. Or, worse, it can go into the hands of a developer who doesn’t understand the business objectives, or the list of technologies required for the migration. The true success of a migration lies in bringing together IT and the migration team with the business leaders and users. After all, they will be the ones using the final solution. Making them a part of the effort from the very beginning is key. Communicate with end users No migration should be conducted in a vacuum. It’s imperative that project managers communicate with the end users to understand the impact of the migration. This could include training discussion when the migration happens, and how to handle the impending culture changes that result from any migration.


So, now we have all this information about the impending migration. What do we do with it? This is a good time to write up a requirements document to record all of the information you have gathered to this stage. It should include the clear direction of what brought you here, where you are going, and what needs to happen for this migration to be successful. The next step is to analyze the results and turn it into a realistic implementation plan. This is where experience can’t be minimized. Make sure your migration team has an experienced team member who has done Notes to SharePoint migrations before. If you are looking for a partner who can help you migrate your Notes environment, please reach out. We’d be happy to talk.