New or consolidated systems should lead to better outcomes, so content migration pre-assessments are important to maximize the ROI.
Whether the goal is digital transformation, system consolidation or moving to a new content management system – if you’re going to spend a lot of money on a new IT project it should be with a view to delivering something tangibly better.
Too often departmental teams have become so adept at process workarounds to assemble or manage content, however, that they lose sight of what’s possible. As a result, when they are asked to give an overview of their current systems and ways of working, they tend to be overly optimistic about the caliber and integrity of the content that will need to be transferred to the new system.
This creates risk, as content migration projects are scoped, planned and costed on the back of these insights.
It’s quite odd, when you think about it, that such pivotal projects – which may involve critical Regulatory, Clinical or Quality systems – should be left to chance in this way. No airline or pilot would embark on a transatlantic flight without first checking for expected weather events, happy to simply react and make adjustments once hurricane conditions present themselves. And yet companies fix budgets and set deadlines for projects that have been scoped with only partial knowledge of the conditions that will be encountered. They prepare for a smooth ride, yet in nine cases out of 10 experience something altogether more turbulent.
Apples & oranges
In the aftermath of a merger/acquisition, it’s expected that blending systems will throw some issues if the technology platforms differ, the object models don’t match, or if the receiving/lead company does not have direct insights into the scale and integrity of the incoming systems of record.
But even within one company, there are likely to be corrupt, inaccurate, incomplete or out-of-date files, or differences in data model, which will continue to cause issues if migrated without remediation to a new platform or system.
And it is far better to understand the scope and scale of such issues before a content migration project takes form. The danger, otherwise, is that an already sizable undertaking will multiply as change order after change order is pushed through, with the result that ‘best case’ deadlines and budgets are far exceeded.
So how can you tell if you are likely to encounter such issues?
Clues to a sub-optimal starting point might include:
- Over-reliance on highly manual or protracted processes, often involving multiple people, to prepare and submit a document;
- Dependence on file shares or non-managed systems to locate information; and/or
- The need to regularly plug gaps in content by chasing down additional detail;
- Not being sure to what the actual number of documents there are that are required in the new system.
Don't rely on guesswork
The only reliable way to scope content migration work is to engage the specialists ahead of time. Giving them an opportunity to look over the data themselves, ask the right questions, gather the correct number of documents in scope, and conduct a gap analysis between the data models of the old and new systems, will ensure that the formal migration project is scoped and designed optimally.
From all of this knowledge, for instance, and with a clearer idea of how content is typically organized, those that will later be tasked with performing the migration service will be able to architect the best approach – both tactically and strategically.
- How much data/content is earmarked to be migrated (and which data/content is beyond the scope of this project)?
- Where is the data/content coming from, and where is it going to?
- Which data models are involved in the old and new state?
- How many data/content attributes exist in the old and new system?
- What are the risks associated with a poor or badly scoped migration?
- Where are the gaps/differences between the old and new models, and what will be needed to address them?
- Given all of the known parameters, will a phased, or ‘big bang’ approach work best?
Forewarned is forearmed
Strategic pre-assessments, which can also be thought of as Phase 0 in the fuller context of a system migration, are an investment in a tight, focused, and hopefully expedited main project.
As a rule of thumb, we recommend allowing 6-8 weeks ahead of the core undertaking. During this time a project manager, migration lead, and business analyst will conduct a thorough analysis of all of the variables and propose a migration approach that will deliver maximum value.
This pre-assessment can be conducted entirely remotely.
Involving the execution team ahead of time also starts to build a strong relationship and understanding of the context of the migration, setting expectations on both sides. All of which should contribute to and build confidence in a smooth project delivery.
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About the Author
With over 20 years of experience working in various capacities in Enterprise Content Management, performing migration related work in regulated environments has truly allowed Wesley White to excel in the work he does. He has developed a methodology for performing migrations based on best practices directly observed and learned many lessons along the way to further solidify that practice. Wesley is always looking to improve though. The better the methodology, the better we can be, and Wesley White is a firm believer in extending this knowledge to those who he works with. This allows us to work stronger, together, and continuously deliver on our promises to get it done right. Mr. White previously held a position as a Director of Services/Delivery for a large consulting company providing oversight to all Life Science related migrations.
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