CMS Migration Checklist: The Shortcut to More

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This article is an antidote for a complex CMS migration. It is relatively long, and you probably will not be able to skim it, but it provides a 3-phase shortcut to perfect your CMS migration even more. Because of heavy data converts, many people have lost the desire to switch a CMS and struggle to absorb the fundamentals of this process straight. This article will show you how to get out of this trap – if you are not already too deeply in it.

CMS migration is quite a common project, but also the one surrounded by numerous misconceptions. Some people, intimidated by many possible pitfalls, try to avoid the task, while others take it too carelessly, jumping into the transfer process head first without the necessary preparation. In reality, data conversion is an inevitable part of any web project’s growth and development. Despite the fact that sometimes it can create as many problems as it solves – thorough planning and a bit of groundwork will allow to reduce the risks and ensure the success of the undertaking.

There is a typical belief that data migration is essentially moving the content from the old system a new one. Precisely this impression is one of the main stumbling blocks on the road to successful data conversion. Moving the information is only a small and often one of the easiest parts of the overall process.

With this in mind, we have created a comprehensive data migration checklist, that covers all stages of the migration process, and can serve as a basis for your own conversion plan.

Pre-Migration Arrangements

Don’t be one of those people, who ignore the pre-migration planning and setup, hoping that they will figure things out along the way. Doing so is gambling with the fate of your web project. Here are a few tips on how to spot the potential risks and establish the necessary activities ahead of time.

  1. Carry out a pre-migration data assessment. Before beginning the data transfer process, it is vital for you to check the expenses and dangers connected with the move. Make sure the migration is viable, think of the ends and means of the project.
  2. Identify the available resources. Once you’ve analyzed the migration tasks and activities, decide what kind of resources you need to perform them. Outline the necessary resources for each stage of the project and make sure they are available when required.
  3. Form the migration team and notify all involved parties. Make sure you have all the necessary professionals on board. It is also important to include the major stakeholders. Talk the migration through and verify everybody understands their involvement.
  4. Define accurate project estimates. If you have performed three previous steps, you’re now ready to establish some timeframes and start creating a schedule. Remember, that this is not your final version, so keep it flexible and be realistic.
  5. Decide on a fitting project delivery structure. Basically, you can choose any of the existing project development approaches or even construct a new one. Keep in mind though, that it has to be adaptive enough to make the necessary adjustments along the way. If you are looking for a suggestion, consider Agile project planning.
  6. Make sure you have agreed on security regulations. Security is one of the most important factors to take care of. Carefully review all the regulations and make sure you stick to them. It is also recommended to have the official approvals from all the key stakeholders.
  7. Prepare the necessary tools/services to help you carry out the project. Prepare/purchase/order the necessary tools for each part of the project. Automating various migration-related tasks can save you a great deal of time and effort. Do you need any reporting software, testing tools, migration services?
  8. Carefully analyze all the data. Take time to rediscover and understand your data to know exactly what you have to deal with. Learn where your data resides, how it’s structured and what parts of it require special attention. Optimize the content if required.
  9. Revise the plan and finalize your deadlines. This is the final stage of your preparation process. By now you have to be well aware of all the peculiarities of your project and the limitations necessary to overcome. Based on the information you have gathered, refine your plan and work out the final project estimates.

Data Transfer Tips

When finished with all the preparation procedures, you can move on to the core of the task – transferring the content to a new system. Here are a few steps recommended to take during the process.

  1. Map the data. Consider the data architecture on the source and target systems, identify deviations and decide how you want to approach those differences.
  2. Set up a target system. Think of what has to be done on a new system before transferring the content onto it. Do you have to change any configurations or field attributes, do you need custom content types?
  3. Prepare supporting migration technology. Since the actual process of copying data and placing it into the new system is quite time-consuming and if we’re talking about large quantities of information, the human error is almost inevitable, it is highly recommended to automate this part of the project. Think of any migration software or custom scripts that can be used for the task. Make sure they are ready and at your disposal when needed.
  4. Test your migration as closely to the live environment as possible. Testing is a key element of every migration project. Select a large enough data sample and perform a trial migration to spot any possible errors or defects.
  5. Make the necessary adjustments in your data and the target system. Based on the results of the test migration, make any required changes to your system configuration, migration method or data. If you haven’t done so yet, optimize your data, getting rid of the old, outdated content will make the transfer faster and more efficient.
  6. Create a rollback plan. Do you have a plan B, or in other words, do you know what you have to do if the migration fails? Plan in advance how you are going to deal with the worst case scenario. Don’t forget to backup all the necessary data and retain the complete copy of it even after the migration is complete. Note, you can archive the data using any simple data storage tools.
  7. Transfer the content. Finally, we have approached the stage of the actual data relocation. This can be done in a number of ways – using a custom script, manually copy pasting all the content, applying exporting and importing tools often built into the systems or using the automated migration service – whichever works best for you. Once again, make sure that you have tested the method you choose.

Bonus Suggestion: If you want to significantly reduce the time and effort needed to perform the seven steps mentioned above, give a try to CMS2CMS, automated migration service. It will provide you with a possibility to easily map your migration entities, test the process, use the free demo option, and even secure the whole process with the migration insurance. In case anything goes wrong, you will be able to restart the migration free of charge. Check out this step by step guide for more information.

Post-Migration Suggestions

Even when all your content is moved over to a new system, it’s still not the time to relax. There are a few more steps necessary to take to ensure that the target platform functions properly and no data is lost.

  1. Test the migration results. Check whether all the migration data is accurate and in the appropriate format. In addition to the simple summary verification and record counts, it is advisable to compare the content using sampling and ensure data integrity.
  2. Perform data and system optimization. No matter how thorough your preparation was there will surely be a few things you will have to adjust after the data transfer. This usually depends on the type of migration you are performing and the complexity of the project.
  3. Build an ongoing data quality control solution. Due to the fact that migration is a complex task, there may be quite a few errors undetected at the initial stages of testing. Moreover, those working with the new system can create new errors because of the lack of experience with the new system. Therefore, it is recommended to establish the ongoing quality monitoring strategy. At this stage, it is also a good idea to use a tool for the task.
  4. Terminate your old system. Now is finally the time to decommission the legacy system. If you have thoroughly checked the new system and confirmed that everything works smoothly, feel free to terminate the old one.

Update the workflow processes connected with the data migration. Keep in mind that there may be significant differences between the source and the target systems, therefore, you need to adjust the business processes to the peculiarities of the new tool. It is also suggested to educate the staff to ensure that they understand how the system works and don’t create additional difficulties.

Closing Remarks

Evidently, data migration is a complex procedure that requires a lot of time and effort. However, it is also a necessary step on the road to each project’s development and growth. If you feel like your web project would benefit from the technology refresh, don’t be intimidated by the possible difficulties. There are many resources and tools to help you along the way.

Want to check out how your website would look like on a new CMS platform right now? Try the CMS2CMS free demo migration.

Try it now!

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Valentyna Tysiachna

Valia is a vivid CMS platforms observer, that’s why she found her dream job of marketer manager at CMS2CMS migration service. Keen English learner, music lover and passionate content writer, she enjoys constant improvement and is open to challenges.
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