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February 26
Content Migration Strategy - Why You Can't Migrate Without One

I have participated in quite a few migration projects, both big and small, and all of them have 1 thread in common.  The project plans underestimate the level of effort needed to migrate the content.  And this thread tends to unravel project timelines, budgets, and goals.  It strikes me as funny that everyone involved with a portal or web site upgrade project will never argue the point that content is king; however, these same folks focus more on the design and implementation of the new solution than the content.


Perhaps everyone gets caught up in the new functionality they desire and/or how the new site will look and feel.  I understand.  We all feel that our current system looks dated and doesn't do the things that it needs to do in today's ever changing collaborative landscape, but no matter how good the new site looks or how cool the new features are, the solution will not meet the business and user goals unless the content is up-to-date, relevant, and accessible.  Unfortunately, activities involved with content migration need to happen at the start of a project and not after the designs are approved or, worse yet, when the new solution is in QA or UAT.  The project team needs to have their eyes on the content from the very beginning.


Too many times, portal and website upgrades wait too long to address the content.  By doing so, project teams rush to migrate content to the new solution.  In this rush to meet the project timeline, content gets mapped to the new solution in bulk, bringing with it redundant and out-of-date content.  This mass migration inhibits the user from finding relevant and useful content in the new solution, which is probably one of the main goals in the project to begin with.


There are plenty of analogies to illustrate this point, such as moving to a new house.  Instead of planning on where the current furniture will go, how it will look, and if it will even fit in the new house, people tend to take everything with them and decide when they get there.  Items that don't work in the new house are left in the garage, and 6 months later, they still can't park in the garage.  It's filled with unwanted stuff!


Moving to a new house is an excellent opportunity to get rid of furniture you don't need and clothes you don't wear.  Let's face it, moving is expensive -- why do we move stuff we will never use?  It just gets in the way.  I might date myself, but I am reminded of the movie When Harry Met Sally.  There is a moving scene where a newlywed couple is combining their belongings and moving into a new apartment.  They, of course, move everything, including the groom’s Roy Rodgers wagon wheel coffee table.  When he sets it up in the living room, the bride immediately says that either the coffee table or she must go.

Don't let this happen to you.  Plan ahead and decide if the wagon wheel coffee table will work in the new apartment.  If not, don't spend the time, money and effort moving it to the new location.  Sell it, or in the case of a content migration, archive it.  There is nothing wrong with letting go.


In order to ensure your content is ready for the new solution, project teams need a Content Migration Strategy.  So what is involved in a Content Migration Strategy?  Well, they come in all flavors, but for best results be sure to include each of these items in your checklist:


·         Identify a Content Migration Lead to work with all the units on migrating their content

·         Identify Department-level leads to ensure their content is ready for migration

·         Provide a Content Inventory for each department-level lead that contains a list of all the content for their area with evaluation criteria

·         Create deadlines for department-level leads to complete their evaluation

·         Schedule regular check-in meetings with all department-level leads so they can compare notes and keep consistent with how they are evaluating the content

·         Update any out-of-date content and combine any redundant content

·         Keep track of new content

·         Map the content identified for migration to the new solution and include metadata from the new solution's taxonomy

·         Train the content generators on the new solution

·         Migrate the content (preferably around the time of UAT)


The key to a Migration Strategy is to start during the initial phases of an upgrade project and break up the tasks into a manageable timeline.  Remember, most of the people identified to participate in the migration process have their normal jobs to do, but they are the only people who are qualified to assess the content.  They are the people closest to that content - they are the content generators.  Content migration takes time, time taken away from their normal duties; however, their efforts are critical to the success of the project.   Treat them well, give them time and you will have a successful content migration.

Need help planning your SharePoint Migration or Upgrade? Take a look at our SharePoint Pre-Migration Assessment​ offering. ​​

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