How to Successfully Move Your Enterprise Data Through the Data Migration Process

November 2, 2017

4 minute read

What is a data migration, exactly, and what does it entail? Typically, a migration involves shifting data from one enterprise content management system (ECM) or repository to another for several possible reasons, including mergers or acquisitions, as a part of a digital transformation or digitization project, to address platform upgrades and system consolidation, and more.

A typical migration process usually requires some type of data analytics to ensure that only valuable, structured content is migrated—and that you’re improving (not just moving) your data.

At some point, a business event will trigger the need to migrate your content and data. To ensure the greatest possible chance of success, however, you must keep your content in order throughout the process—or put it in order beforehand.

Plus, the larger your organization, the more unstructured and unusable data you’ll face. If you’re an enterprise organization, it’s imperative to take control of your data before it becomes overwhelming. Here are a few pointers to help you successfully move your enterprise data:

Get to know your unstructured data

One of your first goals when beginning your migration should be to clean up your data. In order to have a successful migration, it’s critical that you analyze your unstructured data through file analytics before migrating it.

This means getting rid of all of the unstructured data plaguing your organization. In other words, all of your unorganized and unusable information must go. This can also include “dark data,” which is operational data that’s being stored and ingested but not used in any valuable capacity.

Rather than simply “lifting and shifting” your data, why not also elevate it? To ensure that only valuable data will be retained and moved, cleaning up your content is a crucial first step. Plus, leveraging your file analytics will enable you to improve your content with:

  • Deduplication. By getting rid of duplicate files and determining which versions of your content are the most recent, you’ll be able to save time rather than sifting through versions yourself later (and spending more on storage).
  • Identification of ROT (Redundant, Obsolete & Trivial) content. The name says it all—this is content you don’t need to keep. It’s crucial to identify data that you don’t need before your migration (so ROT content doesn’t continue to take up space).
  • Classification. Do you have thousands—or even millions—of documents in your “miscellaneous” folder? Is your desktop covered in “Doc.78832” and similarly named files? If so, it’s time to reclassify your content before history repeats itself in your new ECM.
  • Properly tagging metadata. By ensuring your data is well tagged, searching for specific information within documents will be much easier. Doing so will also ensure that your data migration process will go forward without the information loss that often occurs.

Keeping the future in mind when conducting this process can also help you develop a more holistic view of which data you need to migrate. (Just think about how much your future self will thank you when you don’t have to go through all this content again.)

Are you struggling to decide which data to migrate and futurize? Take our One-Minute Migration Challenge.

Without futurizing your content, you’re essentially taking everything you no longer need and packing it up—wasting time and resources. Plus, from a risk perspective, this information can be a liability. Why put effort into migrating it?

Moving day: time for the data migration to start

Now that you’ve learned what’s going on with your data, it’s time for the migration process to begin. While you’re moving your data, it’s important to engage with strategic business units to keep the technical requirements for your move clear. You should also be working with stakeholders across your organization who understand the taxonomies and trade lexicons associated with the documents being moved.

It’s also crucial to determine the amount of effort your data migration will take—otherwise, you risk underestimating time and cost, leading to a scramble when the migration actually takes place. The key factors in figuring this out are 1) how many documents you have (which is why it’s important to analyze your content first) and 2) how much content classification is required following the move.

Once your migration has commenced, the next step is to unpack your data to the correct destinations. Drawing a clear migration path to map your data into a well-defined location is vital. Otherwise, you’re blindly dumping unstructured data into a new ECM without knowing what it is, creating a mess in the new location.

The final countdown to clean, structured data

Once you’ve followed these steps, your data migration should be almost complete. Along the way, don’t forget to continue your data validation to ensure that everything is running smoothly and that you keep current and future costs down.

Regardless of which business challenges you’re facing, it’s crucial to have a plan for your data migration that will allow you to elevate your content and clean up your data along the way. To learn more about how you can elevate your content throughout a migration and how to manage the proliferation of data within your organization, check out our white paper on content management.


Benefiting Hurricane Harvey, Irma & Maria Victims

Take a trip through time to clean up your unstructured data. The fate of your company is in your hands—so delete and futurize your content wisely. 


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