Everything You Need to Know About How to Prepare For and Embark On a Data Migration

Your organization is kicking off a data migration, likely in response to a significant business event. 

Perhaps you’re facing an upcoming audit or your enterprise content management (ECM) system just isn’t meeting your needs like it used to. Regardless of the reason, you need to move information from one location to another.  

With a lift and shift movement of data comes expectations around timelines and resourcing. For the most part, data migrations are time-boxed projects, which means teams need to be organized to stay on schedule and on budget. But when you’re dealing with unknown amounts of documents and data, this can be really tough to do. It’s no surprise that 74% of organizations involved in this Cloud Service Alliance survey weren’t able to meet their data migration deadlines. 

Before your organization embarks on its data migration journey, it’s important to understand and prepare your data to make your project a success. 

Luckily, we are here to help! In this article, we walk through important things to consider before starting your migration project. And then we guide you through how to actually go about preparing your data so you can set achievable goals to meet timeline and budget requirements. 

So let’s dive in!

Part One: Things to Consider

Before we go any further, there are a few important considerations to take into account and common roadblocks to prepare for. After all, as the old adage goes, if you fail to plan, you plan to fail. 

With that in mind, here are a few questions to think about before you embark on your data migration journey. 

What is the ROI for moving to the new system? 

When developing a strategy for your migrating, understanding the return on investment (ROI) as best as you can will help you determine whether migrating can even be fully justified or not. That’s why it’s a good question to ask early on. Complicating things even further is the fact that there are some things that can’t be measured in numbers. Yes, a rigorous analysis of costs is a piece of the puzzle, but a deep, qualitative understanding of the true long-term gain on your investment is also a necessary part of determining the ROI of your migration. For example, the agility your organization might gain by going to the cloud or this new system might allow the company to innovate faster.

All of this should ultimately give you the means to understand the following questions: 

  • Why are you migrating? 
  • What value is your organization getting in return? 
  • Is a migration your only option? 
  • Why did you choose this system? What are the benefits and drawbacks of it? 

Understanding the full picture before embarking on your data migration will help the entire project. 

Can your destination hold all the data you plan on migrating?

The amount of data being created today is staggering. There is simply too much information being created too fast. That’s why it’s important now to dig deep into the new system and understand if it can actually hold all of your data. Even if it can hold everything you have, do you really want everything in there? 

What is the lifespan of the application you’re migrating into?

Let’s say your organization can overcome the typical risks and challenges of a data migration. Have you thought about what happens next? Even if your migration is a success, how long will it be before you’ll need to migrate again? After a migration, many companies believe their data is safe and protected within their enterprise content management (ECM) or another system. However, as time passes, more data is created outside of these systems. That, combined with a merger or any other major initiative that generates a significant amount of data to manage, you will likely need to embark on another migration.

How will you categorize information in the new system?

Once you have migrated your data into the new system, how will you ensure that it is placed where it belongs? If you haven’t yet, it’s a good time to start thinking about how you’ll ensure the content has the right metadata associated with it to ensure it’s findable. 

What are you planning on migrating?

You probably have a lot of data that you likely won’t want to migrate, let alone keep at all. It’s critical to understand what exactly will be moved over to the new destination in the migration. Preparing and cleaning your information can significantly reduce the volume needed to migrate while reducing the time investment in the process.

Part Two: Preparing Data for a Migration

Now that you’ve stepped back and considered the above questions, it’s time to move forward with your migration.

But where to start? Well, one of the first steps you should take when embarking on your migration is preparing your data. This is important because:

  • Understanding your data will help you have a better understanding of how much needs to be moved over and what you actually have. You’ll also be able to set realistic goals and avoid the prospect of missing deadlines. 
  • In analyzing your data, you may discover a significant amount of it provides no business value to your organization and can be removed entirely, thus reducing the total volume to be migrated. 
  • Alternatively, you may discover swells of business-critical data hidden away in desktops, databases or file shares that you weren’t aware of. 

Doing this important work without significantly slowing or further complicating your migration might seem impossible. But with the right approach, you’ll find that not only is it possible, it is well worth the effort. 

With that in mind, here are the three steps you should take to prepare your data for migration. 

Locate and Map All of Your Data

If you’re like most organizations, your information is likely spread across many different databases, file shares and desktops. Before you can prepare your data for migration, you need to know where it is. All of it. 

To do that, you need to connect and map all of your repositories across the entire organization. This will give you the means to examine and analyze the data more closely (we can help with this). 

Determine the Quality of Your Data

After mapping all of your data, you need to determine what’s worth keeping and what’s not. This process is commonly referred to as data remediation, and it’s something every organization needs a strategy for today, especially when moving to a new system. 

After all, every organization has useless information that serves no purpose at best and could be a liability at worst. Naturally, this data should not be migrated to your new system. 

Here are a few examples of unnecessary or low-value data to look out for: 

Meanwhile, your organization also likely has lots of useful or business-critical data previously hidden away that needs to be migrated and managed accordingly. Understanding this information will help keep the company compliant while helping generate better insights and thus improve decision-making in the process.

Clean the Data

Finally, after determining the quality of your data, it’s time to take action on it. Now that you know what data serves no purpose to your organization (or even worse, poses risks with its mere existence), you can eliminate these unnecessary files altogether. 

Once you’ve done so, you will be ready to move all your remaining data into your new system. 

Full Steam Ahead!

A data migration might seem daunting, but with the right considerations and proper data preparation, you can ask the right questions and ensure your new system is implemented with clean, understood information.  

And if you’re looking for a helping hand, Shinydocs can take the pain of your migration. Our migration solution crawls, prepares and migrates your information while zero disruption for your employees – they will be able to work on documents as they are migrated.

Click here to learn more and see how we can make your migration a success. 

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