Migration Madness - Managing the Chaos

The need to migrate content, data and/or users from one system to another is a necessary part of business operations no matter what industry you are in. This can add all kinds of challenges for your team while trying to maintain business as usual, so it is critical to have a strategy for managing the chaos. Here are some guidelines for your migration strategy:

Prioritization - Where do I start?

Ok, so you know you need to migrate data/content to your new system, but where to start? It is very important to prioritize and define your migration sequence. Using some basic criteria can help you assign priority and deduce the logical sequence:

  1. Business Critical - Is having this data/content in your new system business critical right away or can it wait? If it can wait, the priority is lower and therefore further off in your migration plan.
  2. Aging Technology - Is your data/content at risk due to aging technology? If you have aging technology that presents risk of lost intellectual property, the priority is much higher and the data/content needs to be migrated much sooner.
  3. Migration Infrastructure - What is the level of effort for data/content movement based on existing technology infrastructure? There are likely very differing levels of complexity and associated migration performance speeds to consider when planning your migration sequence.
  4. Easy Wins - Always lookout for buckets of data/content that have high business value and low level of effort for migration. These easy wins are always advisable to be early in your migration planning – this gains support and positive “buzz” around the initiative that is invaluable for continued success.  


Curation - Pre vs. Post-Migration - What to do about my “dirty data”?
While it is always preferable to migrate “clean” (complete, consistent and accurate) data, the reality is that most migration projects involve “dirty” (incomplete, inconsistent and/or inaccurate) data. It sounds undesirable to put “dirty” data in your shiny new system, but there are many considerations when deciding the best way forward; the biggest is always level of effort for cleanup.

  • Pre-migration Curation - If you are able to cleanup your data in the source system before migration in an efficient way, this is likely the preferred approach for the business. Launching a new system with clean, accurate data lends to a better user experience, as well as trust in your project team and new technology. 
  • Post-migration Curation - However, if you are not able to cleanup your data in an efficient and timely manner, consider your option of migrating your data/content with an appropriate tag (e.g. “migration only - to be curated”) to facilitate easy discovery for post-migration curation projects. There are many opportunities to “protect” users from ever seeing this data through system admin permissions and access controls to ensure the best possible user experience while your curation projects are underway. Another consideration is that it may actually prove more efficient to leverage your new technology for the cleanup process. For example, many systems (DAMs, MAMs, DRMs, CRMs, PIMs, MDMs, etc.) have advanced search and bulk edit features to help you quickly identify/update your records that require cleanup. This often is much faster than dealing with backend database value mappings or large spreadsheets – both of which likely require technical resources to be involved.

Digitization - What about all my offline assets?

Many organizations tend to include digitization of offline assets (e.g. hard drives or media tapes in a warehouse) as part of a migration initiative. While digitization is often a high priority effort, it is strongly advised to define a separate project for this with separate measures for project success. Migration projects can already be complex and adding this scope often leads to missed deadlines and disappointed executives. 

Communication and Change Management - How do I keep everyone informed and maintain project support?

It seems obvious, but many migration projects face challenges and even opposition that could have been avoided by effective communication. 

  • Transform Opposition into Advocacy - When planning your migration project, it is extremely valuable to get ahead of opposition. If you can identify any particular user groups who are strongly impacted by this change or extra sensitive about their data/content, meet with them early and often to understand their current pain points, help them understand future state workflows and reassure them of transparency and support throughout the engagement. Create a partnership with shared accountability rather than a customer relationship.
  • Stick to the Plan - Once you have a migration plan that you are confident in, create transparency by sharing the plan with your business partners and future users. This develops a shared understanding and highlights the key milestones relevant to each group.
  • Communicate Progress and Highlight Wins - The best way to maintain support of your migration project is to regularly communicate progress to your stakeholders and always highlight project wins (e.g. migration complete for X and Y business units). This will ensure ongoing understanding of status and maintain a positive narrative around your project.

Migration is often an under-communicated, under-planned and under-socialized part of any implementation initiative but is absolutely one of the most complex and critical to get right. The success of your migration can make or break any technology implementation project, as well as determine trust and user adoption. By following these guidelines, you can set your team up for success and ensure your ability to effectively manage the migration madness.

Contact us to find out more about how Optimity Advisors can help you develop and execute an effective migration strategy. 


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