Planning. Why it’s a critical component of any content migration strategy by Chris Blake

In part one we talked about the power of a successful content migration and how it is often instrumental in a digital transformation project. In this blog, we’ll focus on planning.

Your plan should be based on two things:

  • The business need – This will guide you in the ‘what’ and ‘why’ of your plan.
  • The technical requirements – This will drive the opportunities and constraints.

We could easily dedicate an entire series to planning. It’s that important. But instead of that, I have named nine tips for planning a content migration:

  1. Define your information architecture – Define the framework and constraints within which the detailed decisions will be made. Remain flexible. It won’t be possible to predict everything in advance, especially when it comes to business needs.
  2. Give yourself time to appreciate your source content – This will likely require extensive collaboration with subject matter experts, who may have to refer specialist data questions to data experts. So, allow time for this.
  3. Prepare for change – Align your plan and processes to the scale of change being undertaken. After all, the impact of changing a few file locations on the business is quite different to re-platforming to an entirely new type of technology. While the technical transfer of content can be a success without change management, it is unlikely that the business transfer will be successful without it.
  4. Break the migration down into small manageable chunks – This will help support your delivery. Resist the temptation to base the plan around technicalities. Instead, break it down in a way that makes sense to the business. For example, migrate one or more business teams in their entirety per chunk rather than having them endure the inconvenience of split source/destination technologies.
  5. Adopt a timeboxed approach to migration – If you can name what happens on each day of each chunk, then you’re in a good place. Remember, things don’t always go to plan, so give yourself some wiggle room.
  6. Estimate your migration – And include an explanation alongside each chunk to avoid resorting to total data size or number of files as your progress metric. This is particularly important with complex migrations where contingencies will be required in case you face, for example “hidden” file, structure and permissions complexity or environmental issues, such as technology failures or supplier “throttling”.
  7. Plan your communication strategy – If your change impacts a handful of people, then communication will likely be straightforward. However, on larger migrations many hundreds or thousands of people are likely to be impacted. It’s likely that you will need people to do, or stop doing, certain things at different stages of the migration.

Identify and prepare the most appropriate spokespeople within the business and change management team to communicate regularly so that they may provide early warning and avoid surprises.

  1. Incorporate the business – In large migrations, it’s unlikely that you will be part of a team embedded within the business teams. Identify people within the business who can join the migration team as information managers or change champions. This can help break down barriers and make the migration run more smoothly.
  2. Be realistic – Planning a complex migration takes time and experience. Be wary of colleagues who are overly optimistic or shy away from the challenges. Be realistic and plan not only for success, but also for mitigating the challenges that you will undoubtedly meet.

Next up: Verification – What it means and why it’s necessary at the migration’s start, beginning and end.

If you have a question for Chris or the Triad team, please get in touch.