Looking to migrate your company’s files to the cloud? You’ve come to the right place.

With over 50% of American businesses adopting a “cloud-first” approach to their data storage, and 90% using the cloud for business purposes, it’s clear that you aren’t alone. We won’t sugarcoat it: the file migration process can be a daunting project. However, we’ve scoured the internet to collect a list of best practices to help you out, whether you’re getting started or have already begun. Here are our tips for migrating your business’s files to the cloud.

Business Cloud - Computer Cloud Image

The Benefits of Migrating Your Files to the Cloud 

On average, 16.2% of data a business saves in their secure cloud includes sensitive information. This private data generally includes payment, identification, and health information. So it’s no wonder security and ease-of-access are often the main reasons companies make it a priority to migrate their files to a professional platform. Digitizing and storing your files restricts access, and advanced platforms also provide built-in encryption features for extra protection. Migrating files to the cloud also creates one source of truth for your entire business while keeping things searchable and organized by department to make it easier for employees and customers to find what they need. 

Some file sharing platforms take things one step further and offer user permissions settings which let you decide who can see what, when, and where. This feature alone makes a good case for migrating your files to a secure cloud because it straddles the security and ease-of-access functionalities.

There are many more reasons why a company should switch to a cloud-based, professional file sharing platform. No matter what your specific reasons are, this change is a great investment for your company’s operations and security. However, completing the data migration properly is a process itself. Don’t worry, we’re here to share our top tips and best practices for migrating your files to the cloud.

Tips for Preparing Your Files for Migration to the Cloud

You can’t have a cloud-based file sharing platform without digital data. On average, 39% of a business’s cloud data is explicitly housed there for file sharing purposes, which means any migration is likely to affect close to half of your company’s files. So, let’s begin with some best practices for transforming all of your paper documents into computer files.

Scanning & Shredding

There are multiple ways to digitize your company’s paper files—it all depends on the volume of files to convert and the security of said files as well as your timeline and budget. Smartphone or tablet apps provide quick solutions for small numbers of files by allowing you to scan them with the device’s camera. A desktop scanner or larger appliance is great for digitizing larger amounts, as long as someone in your office has the time and organization skills to process the files. 

A final option, likely reserved for companies with mountains of files and a healthy budget, is to hire a secure scanning service. No matter which method you choose, be sure to research compliance rules for your industry. You’ll need to ensure you keep paper records from certain dates, if applicable. Any paper you don’t need to keep after scanning it in should be safely, professionally shredded.

Reducing Paper & Going Digital

Another best practice to enact, whether before or after the mass file digitization, is reducing the amount of paper in your office. By swapping bills to emails, installing software for work and record-keeping, emailing presentations instead of printing out packets, etc., you’ll be able to reduce the number of files you need to scan in the first place (not to mention benefits to the environment).

Cloud drawing with computers around it.

Tips for the File Migrating Process

Now that all of your files have been securely turned into digital data, let’s dive into the best practices for safely and methodically transferring them to the cloud.

Taking Stock of Your Baseline

The best first step to take before the file migration is to put together an inventory of your data. This is your chance to decide which files, platforms, and infrastructures need to be moved and where. Make a plan to verify and validate that the right files reach the right locations in the new system. Having a realistic view of how much data there is to move and an idea of where to put it will also allow you to layout a solid list of goals and timelines to accomplish the migration.

Making a Plan

Now, let’s get into the plan for the migration itself. Making a plan ahead of time will help ensure you aren’t underestimating how large an undertaking a migration is. You’ll need to plan ahead for changes in processes and data access to minimize learning curves and mistakes for employees and customers. Also, ask yourself if specific changes to processes or organizational systems are necessary to create a better user experience or if they’re better left as is after the file migration.

Delegating

The next piece of this process is probably the best example of the phrase “easier said than done”: laying out all of the files to be uploaded to the cloud and delegating tasks. Don’t get discouraged! As long as you have support from your business’s leaders (or are a leader yourself), it will be easier to make this process a company priority. If you can, put together a migration team so each department is represented. This team will reduce the individual workload while also giving various areas of the company some level of control over where their files end up.

Setting Hard Deadlines

Part of your planning should also include listing hard deadlines. This might seem like a no-brainer, but again, file migrations can be huge undertakings so small details like deadlines can have a sizable impact. If you can set a concrete due date for each step of the process, and hold each department and team member accountable, you’ll keep the file migration process on track while also keeping it top of mind to increase overall company buy-in (which we’ll discuss shortly).

Testing as You Go

Once the actual migration proceeds, keep tabs on it by consistently running tests. This practice will help you check that everything is running smoothly and can alert you to issues as they pop up. You don’t want to upload thousands of files before realizing they went to the wrong folders or were assigned incorrect user permissions.

Even after the migration is complete, you should continue to run tests and perform maintenance checks to monitor your files, their security, and any need for updates and upgrades to the system. Of course, this can all be taken care of for you. With the right file-sharing platform, encryption and updates can be taken care of automatically so you have peace of mind that your information is safe and right where it needs to be.

Computer Hand with Business Cloud

Tips for Communicating About the Cloud Migration

As with any other business function: communication is key during a file migration. When you consider the fact that the average employee uses 36 cloud services at work and the average business uses 76 cloud platforms overall, there can be a lot of noise to cut through. However, if you’re creating an overarching storage base for your entire business, you already have the leverage to get peoples’ attention. Here are some tips for how to make the most of it.

Communicating Across Teams

Having access to various departments will help you decide which teams should lead the migration, which should assist, how they should update each other, and how the migration will affect the business in various ways. Communicating regularly with everyone in the company, even if you don’t think they will be directly influenced during or after the migration, is important to a successful migration. At least, it never hurts to keep everyone on the same page with fair warnings about any major changes. Especially if you’re shifting primary company files, you’ll need to keep each department aware of what’s happening.

Communicating with Customers

It should come as no surprise that customers and other external parties should also be included in your communications plan. While you won’t need to share as much with this audience as you will with your employees and other internal stakeholders, it’s important to clearly share how you’re handling customer data and how clients can access files they need from your organization. As files are moved around, these communications should cover client access before, during, and after their movement, if possible. 

Migrating your files to a secure, private cloud can also be used to boost your reputation and attract new customers. Messaging about the enhanced security and accessibility of your new professional-grade file-sharing platform can position your company as trustworthy and responsible. This messaging in particular can be left to your marketing department, but you, as project lead, may be best suited to bring it up as a messaging point.

Getting Buy-In From Employees

As you communicate about the cloud migration, you should also make sure you’re getting buy-in from your employees. Buy-in is important to secure so your entire organization recognizes your new cloud platform as a legitimate go-to source for company information. If your teams don’t see the platform as an imperative piece of their day-to-day work, they won’t bother with it. The best way to begin growing buy-in is with a top-down approach. Starting by having company leaders share the reasons for the change and specific ways it will improve operations will set a positive tone towards the process. For more tips on getting employee buy-in for a new piece of tech, check out this blog.

Training & Leading by Example

When it comes to providing post-migration training on the new file sharing platform, using concrete examples is a best practice. Employees and customers benefit most from direct use-cases. Providing a solid frame of reference is always best practice for training, especially tech training. Rather than explaining how everything works, think about what each audience needs most from the file-sharing platform and focus on those items. This will save you time and will simplify instructions for everyone else.

You can take things a step further by explaining concepts in various media to account for the various ways different people learn best. Having a written FAQ, short video walkthroughs, and screenshot images showing how to perform different operations are some great starting points to cover your bases. Make sure all of these examples outline specific operations. 

Hand clicking on the Cloud Option

Why You Should Migrate Your Files to the SmartFile Cloud

Professional-grade platforms treat file sharing as a feature instead of an entire service, and we pride ourselves on SmartFile’s secure, private cloud solutions. SmartFile is HIPAA-compliant and features encrypted file storage in your own private cloud, as well as customizable, granular user permissions settings. We make it possible for you and your IT team to have complete control and visibility over all of your files and user activity. We make it our business to build file sharing best practices right into our platform.

SmartFile is also here to simplify the file migration process with our focus on creating an accessible user experience and solid reporting features. You’ll easily be able to find what you need and see who’s taken various actions within your files. 

Overall, our cloud solution provides the data access your stakeholders need, the management desired by IT, and the compliance required for regulated industries. All of these features, and more which we haven’t discussed here, make SmartFile more than just the perfect cloud service to migrate your business’s files to – it’s a better way to work.

 

Securely migrate, store, and share your important business files with SmartFile’s private cloud solution. Get started with a free trial todayGive SmartFile a try for free today — no credit card required!

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Related Topics & Tags: File Management File Sharing

About John Hurley

I am the CEO and Co-Founder of SmartFile. My role is to find the right people and give them the right tools and resources needed to grow both professionally and personally.

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