New and Improved
While some migrations aim just to move content from one server to the next with no noticeable differences, others hope to breathe new life into buried information and add to the content's value by converting its format, creating a system-wide standard, or making it more easily findable.
When getting well-acquainted with enterprise information, employees should also consider what they want their content to do within the new system. "Companies should look at future data management requirements for their data/content—will they need to add compliance, retention, data security, or other capabilities to the system?" says Coblentz. "Migration might be a good time to consider new technology, if the current technology that hosts the content has future expansion capabilities."
Most migration products automatically add basic metadata to make search faster. Ekton's CMS400.NET converts all content into an XML format, "so that anybody else can use to call on the system and get content from it," according to Rogers. Day's Content Repository Xtreme (CRX) product converts all information into a JSR 170 format, which is a Java-based "integration interface," according to Walsh.
Thinking Outside the System
While an automated migration tool might be a fairly safe bet for helping to organize the move from one system to the next, sometimes an old system's users are its best analysts. Coblentz describes a successful migration he once worked on in which the entire office participated in a democratized version of cut-and-paste:
"A customer decided to migrate to a new content management system from shared drives. The estimate was that 50% of the files were duplicates, but it was nearly impossible for the IT staff to unravel what the end users had created. Users were given one month to move the files they thought were important to a new repository. Files created during that period were supposed to go into the new system. After the one-month transition period, they could still access the old shares in case they had missed something, but could only put files in the new system, forcing a cutover.
"The process was actually quite smooth and the project was a big success. Subsequently, the executive team began to mandate various reports, business processes, and retention activities, which were easily added to the new system without interfering with the end users."
When getting ready for content migration, vendor consultants can consult with companies to find out which tactics best fit with the limitations of the legacy repository and the capabilities of the new CMS. The most important thing to keep in mind is that content migration isn't supposed to be a one-size-fits-all process. It's not an easy move, but with the right strategy and preparation, it can be a smart one.