To read the previous entry in this blog series, click here.

So it's time to roll up the sleeves and make things happen: your move/migration is real. And these boxes/files/images won't move themselves.

Whether your defined approach is all manual, all automated, or (most likely) a mixture of the two, execution of your content migration will require patience, commitment, and attention to detail. As a result, it's essential to strike the appropriate balance between the need to complete the migration as quickly as possible and the need to minimize errors and ommissions by allowing sufficient time to get the work done. This balance can be found more easily by collaborating with business stakeholders to establish priority-based content migration timelines. Even a simple tiering of migration criticality - Absolutely Urgent/As Quickly As is Feasible/Whenever Works - can help to manage expectations and prevent signficant mistakes spawned by unrealistic deadlines. In more projects than not, all content is not created equal and doesn't need to move at the same time; helping all stakeholders grasp that point can be an invaluable step.

However much content is in-scope for a given "pass," a few recommendations apply for each category of migration:

Tips for Automated Migration Execution

  • Trust the tool/script that you'll be using, but anticipate that tweaks will be required no matter how thorough the design process was
  • Employ the use of trial runs every time you apply a new or different set of business rules; as soon as you lose patience and migrate a large quantity of content without first carefully validating your migration settings against a trial data set, you'll find yourself doing rework or, worse, finding out weeks later that some element was mishandled
  • Ensure that technical resources charged with supporting the automation tool will be available and committed to the migration process... and not overburdened with application development responsibilities

Tips for Manual Migration Execution

  • Recognize (for yourself and others) that manual content migration can feel like a mindless task and that challenges accompany that fact
  • Create incentives - material or "fun" - for reaching migration milestones
  • Avoid planning migration marathons that will lead to boredom, frustration, and mistakes; schedule breaks where the mind can run free, or at least to other types of tasks
  • Try to minimize the threat of distraction from the content itself: spending an unnecessary 15 minutes reading every document you migrate can kill your migration schedule
  • Accept that zero defects is an admirable goal but not a likely reality; this acceptance can be liberating and lead to greater productivity (provided that sufficient validation will come later)
  • Manage progress tightly; track milestones and communicate frequently to preempt content pile-ups and the aforementioned migration marathons

The bright side of content migration is that its completion parallels or even equates to the target site coming to life, which can bring with it a significant sense of achievement. Though ardous, content migration execution and the validation step that follows it represent major steps in the launch of a new enterprise portal.