Many companies are struggling with the task of replacing legacy outdated website content management systems with state-of-the-art Content Management Systems (CMS). Whether it is due to system obsolescence, to better manage digital assets, to upgrade web capabilities, or to improve a company’s multi-channel posture, companies of every industry find it necessary to migrate content to new systems. Modern Enterprise systems solve several issues companies have and provide necessary features to ensure a company’s web presence is appealing and effective. In addition to growing features and capabilities, today’s Enterprise CMS systems have steadily improved to include advanced automated features that enhance migration and production processes. The time necessary for designing and publishing new web pages has shortened, and most importantly, the development cycle has diminished or even been eliminated.

Most modern CMS systems include cross platform, device agnostic support and many have advanced analytical capabilities that drive the value decision.When investing in or upgrading to newer systems, a complete migration of content is required. As they plan and execute their migrations, we offer 6 important tips to make sure the migration is a success.

1. Have a Plan

Establishing a plan may be an obvious start, but can also be what makes or breaks the success of your project. We recommend a combined project/program schedule and communication plan that shows linkages between project work and stakeholder engagement. This strategic roadmap is crucial for larger projects where several internal teams and outside agencies might be doing related work.  An overall leader with a combined project schedule including inputs from the separate project managers sets the foundation for success.

2. Engage the Right Experts

With valuable resources utilized throughout the project, make sure you have the right experts engaged. Build your team with individuals who have the experience of completing a migration and understand not only the organization’s goals, but how to get there. Documentation, including style guides and content mapping, will be vital reference material so that all stakeholders and teams can remain aligned. The right experts in place will help with identifying activities, sequencing, resources, and timelines, ensuring industry-specific nuances are addressed.

3. Create a Content Hierarchy

Investing a significant amount of effort in analyzing the content will pay off in the long run.  A good hierarchical understanding of what exists will help you scope the project. You will likely discover content that can be archived or repurposed.

4. Address Change Management

Requirements should be outlined at the start of the project, documenting integration opportunities and needs. A strategy to identify and manage stakeholders including organizational and functional leaders is critical as signoff from all project leaders and stakeholders is key. If deviations to scope are encountered along the way, those should be addressed via change requests and prioritized accordingly. This way the project can continue without being derailed by distractions. Monitoring metrics, training, and documentation all contribute to managing any change.

5. Migration Automation is a Choice

Some things will lend well to automation, other things will not. Automation set up is not trivial and should be weighed against the effort and resources to move things manually. Automation is effective when content from the original CMS can be exactly mapped from content matrix documents to templates in the new system.

6. Prepare for the Unknowns

As with any large scale technology project, there are often surprises. These can relate to time, resources, budget or all the above. When planning your project at the outset, create a risk log and be sure to engage the team members who will be conducting the work to help set achievable timelines. Be prepared that other priorities may undermine your project, and key team members may be distracted with emergencies. Adjusting the timeline and continually communicating changes to leadership will keep everyone in the loop.

Migrating from one CMS to another is complex and offers may potential pitfalls. Thankfully others have travelled that path; lessons and effective methodologies are available to ensure you don’t miss a beat. Focusing on the plan and engaging the right experts can make sure your migration is a success. Integrating Change Management and selectively automating migration are additional keys to accomplishment. NorthStar’s best practice methodology harnesses experience with industry experts to ensure the success of your next project. Taking these elements into consideration can help your team achieve goals and gain results. If your organization is about to take on a content migration initiative, or you may already be waist deep, NorthStar can help improve your content management system migration and meet your needs. Contact a NorthStar Content Management expert today.

NorthStar Solutions Group, LLC is a premier business technology solutions firm that delivers a full-spectrum of practical, value-added solutions that enable our clients to plan and execute their critical business technology strategies and realize tangible business results.