Planning For Content Migration

When the subject of content migration arises the reaction of many people is a resounding “UGH!” Content migration is something most don’t want to think about. We think of it as difficult THEN we push back any decision-making regarding a project. Here are some suggestions to push thru.

First of all, let me say I sympathize with these feelings toward content migration because I’ve seen and corrected some doozies. However, these reactions are in response to poorly administered migrations. In a bad migration, the entire database(s) is just moved over in an indeterminate fashion. This should be avoided at all costs. The most obvious problem here is “garbage in⸺garbage out.”

Just because you’ve experienced a terrible migration (and many of them are) doesn’t mean that all migrations are bad or that you should avoid them at the cost of some other organizational benefit. Sometimes it makes sense to start from scratch with a new system. But most often some amount of migration is necessary because few systems are entirely junk, plus there are usually records in the process.

Consideration 1: Aligning Priority with Creation and Usage

As a best practice, content migration is not a yes/no decision. It’s much more subtle.

One should examine how the content is used, how it was created, what the retention schedule is for the content type, the date it was created. Look at your (or have your systems integrator look at your unique needs, requirements, and compliance mandates rather than universally moving overall content using the same approach. You’ll be building new metadata templates so now is the time to consider if your style of metadata capture genuinely suits your needs,

Many organizations hold off on making migration decisions until it is too late. Consequently, the decision-making is performed by the person migrating the content. Migration is a group effort because:

  • In large, multi-departmental migrations decisions are less likely to be consistent.

  • Sometimes you go down the path too far to course correct.

  • Prioritization skews to what is easy, versus what is important.

  • Much time is wasted making and remaking decisions.

Consideration 2: Decouple Deciding from Making Content Changes

You can make content decisions without looking at every piece of content by putting rules into practice (alongside your mandated retention schedules.) For instance, “ We’ll delete all press releases after one year” or “All datasheets must be deleted and rewritten once a year to ensure accuracy.” Some good reasons for decoupling include:

  • Efficient decision-making that is universal and business-driven.

  • The management team can be integrated into the process.

  • Disagreements are at a higher-level, so they are easy to rectify rather than looking at every single piece of content.

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