Enterprise Content Management (ECM) is more than just a technology. It’s also involves suite of strategies and decisions, many of which fall on the shoulders of organizations themselves. Yes, vendors can help ECM adopters and offer their input, but at the end of the workday, it’s the organization that has to make the call on how to handle ECM implementation.
ECM Is About More Than Getting Rid of Stuff and Acquiring New Stuff
Yes, it’s true—at some level what we’re talking about is the strategy of taking “stuff” from one spot and moving it to another. However, this migration process also includes many business considerations. Keep in mind that ECM is a discipline as much as it is a technology solution. If migration is treated as solely technical, then issues will arise involving user adoption, risk, and governance—and of course you’ll likely prevent users from doing their job as effectively as possible.
A Clear Scope Is Non-negotiable
The beginning of any conversation about data and cloud migration generally focuses on what’s being migrated and where it’s being migrated from. Are you migrating a single application or seven? Do you understand the structure of your dataset? Is there anyone in your company who is familiar with the original structure of the system’s data? What about the permissions model? Will data cleansing and data disposal be part of the migration? Will the old-to-new container structures be mapped? What about architecting? There are a lot of questions around migration and it’s essential that your scope is clear before you begin.
Vendors Can Help but Most Decisions Are Yours
There are numerous decision points throughout both the migration and the planning stage. The first buyer decision will involve deciding exactly what must be migrated. Your vendor can offer advice, but migration is a mix of your needs, the best practice needs you choose, your budget, realistic time frames, and technical realities. The most important decisions you’ll need to make will include decisions around:
- Continuation of employee training
- Implementation of steps you allocate
- Information governance and choosing an ECM that upholds and adapts to necessary compliance measures
Validate Within Your Community
It’s common for project teams to avoid early engagement with their community about an ECM migration. This is because there’s often a fear that the community isn’t ready yet. While an understandable argument, this approach to migration is often read as warning flag within an organization and makes it appear as though migration is being seen exclusively as a technical process, and not one that impacts people.
The better option is to engage early on non-technical issues like general migration principles and migration high-level approach, and then ask for feedback from the community. For example, ask HR management for their input, ask IT what they think, and speak to your lower level users. When this is done before your technical team wastes time and money developing tools that inevitably support an approach that’s flawed, you’ll save time and resources in the end.
The Right Balance Must Be Achieved
There are many resources used in an ECM project, including both people and IT systems. It’s essential for organizations to find the right mix of people with the right skill sets. Remember that you must consider both business issue and technical issues. Common roles needed during the migration process include:
- Business Analyst
- Solution Lead
- Project Manager
- Business Unit Representatives
- Business SME
- System Administrator
- Network Engineer
- Developer Specialist
- Migration Tech Specialist
Each of these roles won’t be needed during the entire process, but these are the skillsets are necessary if you want a migration that’s both smooth and complete.
Time and Cost Are Important—But Don’t Forget Quality
There’s no point in completing a migration if you’re not doing it within acceptable quality tolerances. It’s up to your organization to decide what yours are. How much validation will be completed by you, your users, or your vendors, and what do each of them need? If your system has metadata that you aren’t using now, then why map it into your new system? Can you find a better way to add value to your process? Ssome elements aren’t negotiable. For example, you’ll need to keep the original author and not have two million items created by the system.
Adding Value to the Process
It’s important for organizations to carefully consider the ways in which they might add value as they work to migrate. For example, one company had numerous PDFs that were not searchable, and these PDFs were 80% of their content. As a part of their migration, they may consider transforming those flat files to searchable PDFs. In some cases, adding extra value can be as simple as ensuring old document IDS are easily visible.
Timing is critical. Mmigration likely doesn’t make the most sense for an accounting team to work on during tax season. While there won’t be a perfect time to take on the time and expense, there’s no question that timing should play a part in the decision making process.