What to Bring with You: Defining Your Migration Strategy

How do you begin to tackle the migration of content from legacy systems into your new enterprise platforms?

Your platform is selected, your training plans are ready. Your users are eager to experience the easier life you’ve promised them. But where’s the content?

An efficient productive enterprise is about the relationship between people, places and content. You have the people, and they have their places and workflows which they use to get their jobs done. They are busy and managing their transition from legacy systems to new tools will be your goal for the foreseeable future. Getting them there is only half the battle though. They need their content to get their work done. So what do you do about it?

It’s likely you are making this significant change because you’re experiencing the same issues we see every day. Outdated, complex and cumbersome tools, poor search, bad user experience, inability to find what you need, multiple copies of the same content causing confusion. You may have thousands or even millions of documents to contend with.

Your migration strategy should focus on only moving what you are certain needs to be moved.

Content migration is a costly and complex exercise. We’ve watched many companies take the all or nothing approach and here’s what we know. If you simply lift and shift everything, you’ll end up with exactly the same problems in a shiny new box.

So answer this question. Do you know what content is important and what content is not? In some cases you do, but if not, how do you find out? Perhaps you have great analytics which will tell you, but if you’re about to move to a new platform from a legacy system, it’s unlikely. If you ask the employees, they’ll exclaim “We need it all!”.

Your migration strategy should focus on only moving what you are certain needs to be moved. Make sure it has all relevant meta data associated with it. Make sure it is attributed to a person, and make sure it has an owner.

The curation exercise they’ll go through when moving what’s important to them is vital for a successful transformation.

That probably gets you 10% of the way there. For the rest, you’re going to need to ask your users to move the rest for you. Yes, that’s difficult because they’re busy and they don’t have time, but you’re giving them more efficient ways of working, and this strategy comes with three major benefits:

  1. They know what’s important. It turns out that “We need it all!” only counts when it’s being moved for them. The curation exercise they’ll go through when moving what’s important to them is vital for a successful transformation.

  2. When they are moving their content, they are learning how to use your new platform. Don’t underestimate this. It’s like training on steroids. After their migration, creating new content in there will be a breeze for them.

  3. Content is attributed to them as they move/create it. Our systems and platforms are smart and one of your goals will be around identification of expertise within your enterprise. As the systems learn to relate the content with the author/creator during migration, you’ll be kick-starting the data behind the expertise identification engines.

Of course not all content types can be moved by your employees e.g. conversation threads, so you need to determine the value of those before deciding whether to perform an automated migration, but if you do - always make sure everything is attributed to someone because content that exists with no owner will always get in your way later.

Have you been through a migration recently? How have you tackled the process? Let us know how you got on, and share any lessons you've learned on your journey with other readers by commenting below.