More importantly though, SharePoint is emerging to be a propeller of a new workplace competency called Digital Dexterity: the ability and desire to maximise the use of emerging Digital Transformation technologies – by empowering all employees in an organisation – to leverage these for better business outcomes.

Due to these attractive features, many organisations which had previously been using iManage as their Enterprise Content Management (ECM) platform are now seeking to take total control of their content management with SharePoint, thereby also leveraging the commercial opportunities presented by Office 365 implementation and supporting better ways of working.


Why migrate from iManage?

An overarching purpose for migrating from a legacy ECM, such as iManage, to the brave new world of a modern Content Services platform, such as Microsoft’s SharePoint is that it offers much more than traditional, legacy ECMs could ever do. It comprises the relevant features of existing ECM platforms combined with a flexible distribution platform that feeds into productivity and fuels new ways of working.  

iManage is a knowledge management system used by organisations globally, especially across law firms, corporate legal departments, accounting and financial and real estate sectors. It was particularly popular with the legal industry as it revolves around Client and Matter. This industry-targeted solution makes it different to SharePoint, which is an industry-agnostic platform for collaboration and document management.

Therefore, unless properly addressed, migrating from iManage can present a range of complexities that could affect the progress of the migration.


The good news is that understanding these complexities as well as the differences between these two systems can help to create a migration strategy that mitigates any possible risks that could be encountered.

What are the best practice guidelines for migrating content from iManage to Microsoft SharePoint?

Before you embark on your migration project, it is worth considering and mitigating any potential issues that could affect the content architecture and infrastructure of your new SharePoint environment to make migrating content from iManage to SharePoint as seamless as possible.

We recommend the following best practices that will ensure your migration project is a success:


Aligning with SharePoint design

iManage supports very deep-nested content hierarchies and large number of documents per container, which could easily exceed recommended limits from Microsoft.  Where the limits are exceeded, the iManage content structure should be simplified or remodelled to align with the Microsoft recommendations.

iManage also allow files and folders to be filed in more than one location without duplication, causing cyclical references of folder hierarchies. On the other hand, SharePoint is a physical filing system by design, hence any virtual filing references within iManage should be converted to links within SharePoint.


Security model remapping

iManage and SharePoint have a slightly different approach to securing the content. SharePoint tries to simplify security by starting with a restrictive set of inherited permissions and only granting higher rights as needed. While every document in iManage has a ‘default security’ which is set depending on its document class. This allows a document to be made public, private to author, read-only to everyone or to inherit the parent permission.

SharePoint supports item level permissions but considers the performance impact of item level permissions and gives users the ability to structure content into various Sites and control security at a Library, Site or Site Collection level. The Permission levels available in SharePoint presents the user with a versatile way to configure complex set of permissions on items if needed. Again, therefore, having an appropriate IA in place first would help to map out the security controls required.


Adapting the information architecture

iManage stores any type of file (email, pdf files, office files etc.) as a Document in a Library composed of a content file (in native format) and document attributes (metadata).  The classification or categorisation of content in iManage is managed by Document Class and Subclass. Document classes are custom-defined categories for identifying and differentiating the documents and determines what default security is set and what custom properties are associated with the document.

On the other hand, SharePoint supports a hierarchical model of classification using Content Types to classify the content and uses custom columns/metadata to manage and store the custom properties. SharePoint has several built-in Content Types, with their own set of properties necessary to interact in a collaborative environment including:

  • Documents
  • List items
  • Announcements
  • Tasks
  • Surveys

SharePoint also supports 'Document Set', i.e. a collection of documents managed as a single entity. 

It is recommended that the content existing within iManage is mapped to the appropriate Content Types in SharePoint, which ties in with having the right Information Architecture in place beforehand. It is worth mentioning that, where required, Custom Content Types should be defined within SharePoint to enable the correct classification and metadata mapping.

Migrating iManage Matters and Workspaces

iManage had introduced the concept of “Matter Centricity”, where emails or documents are associated to a matter instead of being associated to a particular user or physical storage location.

While Matters might not have a direct replacement in SharePoint out-of-the-box, an equivalent functionality can be achieved by customisation or third-party applications.

Personal Workspaces are used by iManage users to stores folders and documents that are created and most commonly accessed by the user. iManage also allows users to create a hierarchy of bookmarks to other matter workspaces. 

OneDrive for Business has rich features for storing, managing and sharing personal content.


Structuring your migration project

By understanding the features and benefits that SharePoint can bring about to your organisation, the next step is to ensure that your migration project has the right structure in place. In this way, complexities can be turned into tangible commercial opportunities to take total control of your content management processes. 

A well-structured SharePoint migration project would prioritise content integrity, continuity and enrichment throughout and the project itself would have the following stages:

  1. Pre-Migration: This is when the scope and critical content are identified, and the new content architecture is defined with the help of content discovery and analytics reports. This is also when potential issues are identified so that schedules and budgets can be maintained via intelligent pre-migration checks so that any risks can be mitigated in advance.
  2. During Migration: This is when you are not only migrating your business content over from iManage to SharePoint, but also enriching and restructuring it for users to be able to get the most out of it. Intelligent content classification, metadata extraction, Information Architecture (IA) remapping and Optical Character Recognition (OCR) can all help achieve this.
  3. Post-Migration: You have the opportunity post migration to optimise the IA and content searchability to turn your content into your most powerful business asset. This is also the time to enforce the right content governance and retention polices. If you need to keep the existing system live for a certain duration after the migration process is complete, you should continue to sync the content into SharePoint Online, to ensure that your users have a smooth transition. You may also want to consolidate content from any other systems into SharePoint Online. 


The Right SharePoint Migration Tool

The right migration tool should support the migration strategy that you have put in place, fulfilling your business as well as technical requirements.

But most importantly, it should remove the challenges that can often be encountered when migrating from a legacy ECM, such as iManage to a modern Content Services Platform (CSP), like SharePoint. 

It should make migration an opportunity for organisations to transition to Intelligent Workplaces built upon SharePoint and Office 365.


Introducing the Migration Accelerator from Proventeq: An Advanced SharePoint Migration Solution

Proventeq’s Migration Accelerator tool does all the above. It maximises the potential of your content and information management infrastructure before, during and after the migration process. 

This includes:

  • Providing your organization with 360° insights into your existing content,  
  • Enriching your content via Intelligent classification and automated metadata extraction.   
  • Restructuring your content to make it easier to find and apply information controls and governance to keep it secure.   
  • Accelerating your migration from iManage to SharePoint and Microsoft 365 with the capabilities of migrating thousands of documents an hour and providing you with full audit reports to stay on track.   

Watch this video to learn more about what Migration Accelerator does:

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