Is “Disruption-Free Migration” really possible?


Disruption-Free Migration: Video

When an organization decides to move on from an existing Enterprise Content Management system, one question immediately arises: How do we get our workforce to use the new system while continuing to be as productive (hopefully even more so) as they were the previous platform? In today’s industry, we hear so much about user adoption guides, user training, and change management programs. There is certainly a need for all of it. However, even with all these transitional aids, it’s rare to see a level of success at which an organization can state that they truly provided a disruption-free migration.

So, do we have to conclude that disruption-free migration is an illusion? Must we accept that adopting a new collaboration or content management platform will always come with many interruptions? The answer is simple: no. But we need to dig deeper into the underlying problems with current paradigms of user adoption, change management, and training. This way, we can see how to provide the best solution for it.

Understand what content you currently have

Organizations create a lot of content. Data volumes are growing astronomically year over year. The first pitfall during a migration project is assuming that all content is equal. And that, therefore, all content needs to be migrated into the same environment. Active content, inactive content, sensitive content, content that needs to be kept as records in perpetuity … There are many different classifications for content, and each of them can (and likely should) have a different migration plan. You need to address active content differently than sensitive content. But it’s impossible to know what you have and how to address it when you’re looking only at volume.

Understand the differences between source and destination platforms

When looking at the major players in the ECM market, we can easily find fundamental differences between them regarding management. On the surface, the way they handle permissions and users presents an immediate challenge. But the incompatibilities that can have the most devastating impacts on the success of the migration are the ones that are harder to spot: invalid characters, path length, filename length, permitted file types, etc. These differences will prevent a successful content migration. Users will then open support tickets when these files are not present, creating a major headache for IT. IT must then look at each failed document and, work with the owner directly on remediation.

Remediation can vary from removing invalid characters, shortening the filename, zipping the file in case of an invalid filetype and so much more. All these files will affect how your end-users experience the migration and it won’t be positive. The remediation of a disruption-free migration will also add extra time and cost to the life of the project.

Train with real content

Training is crucial for enabling end-users to be successful. However, traditional ECM training organizations typically use generic training content to educate end-users on new platforms. But this is rarely ideal. People need their training content to be as close as possible to the environment they will be using after the training. Using generic content, the same for each of your end-users is not likely to empower them to feel prepared for the transition.

Use software that is capable of supporting these three points:

When we talk about change management, user adoption, and user training we always stress that it shouldn’t just be an IT project. We cannot minimize the importance of employing software that minimizes any disruption your end-users would feel. Any file transfer software that is equipped to support disruption-free migration contains the following 3 features:

  1. Analysis: The ability to discover and analyze all of your organization’s content – receiving metrics on overall volume as well as what type of content, where and how it has been shared – as well as predict file migration outcomes so any major issues can be addressed before files start moving.
  2. Auto-remediation: Configure policies and behaviors that reduce the number of files that require manual intervention to a minimum, by automatically transforming file names, path lengths, zipping incompatible files, and giving a full report of the changes that took place.
  3. Continuous copy: Most important is the ability to synchronize content across both source and destination platforms so people can “train” in the new system with their living content – and be fully prepared when it comes time to pull the plug on your old system.


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