February 23, 2020 Lauri Stone

Content Migration – Taming the Beast

We’ve all had at least one nightmare project you wish you could walk away from. Content migration would have to be near the top of the list.  Who knew that moving so much content from your old site to your new site could be such a risky undertaking. According to Gartner, 70% – 90% of data migrations either fail or exceed their budgets with an average cost overrun of ten times the original estimate. That translates to a whole lot of money and if the project fails completely, these costs are well and truly wasted.

If we were to draw a picture of content migration gone awry and becoming downright beastly, it would look something like this:

  • Incomplete strategy
  • Insufficient labor
  • Poor system design
  • Ineffective tools
  • Lack of collaboration, communication, participation from management and stakeholders
  • Lack of integrated processes
  • Lack of standardization or consistency
  • Inaccurate information
  • Poor interpretation of business rules
  • Underestimating data analysis
  • Inability to validate a specification
  • Failure to validate the implementation
  • Late evaluation of the final result


With so many challenges and complex processes, carving out enough time and resources in your planning is critical and can make or break the project. The planning, execution, verification, and monitoring are the three phases of this complicated process but if there is one true secret to content migration success it is all about planning and strategizing. There are so many considerations to keep in mind from how much time you have to complete the migration to how the data will be stored in the source system(s).  And just how effective will your institution be when it comes to working simultaneously in two systems? Furthermore, how prepared is staff to adapt to the new system?


Many major considerations go into planning but it should always include a backup plan and allowances for support resources.


A successful migration project begins and ends with good, clean data. Data validation is another critical step to avoid migrating “dirty data” which would compromise the new system’s efficiency and investment. Some factors to consider in data validation:

  • Stability of the project
  • Data coverage
  • Execution time
  • The efficiency of query/script


Side-stepping risk involves many steps during the planning stage like conducting a deep dive into the source data. Analysis of the source and target systems is a necessary step to avoid unexpected issues.  Expecting participation from management and input from the users directly impacted by the migration will make the transfer process functional and minimize the amount of content to be transferred. Because transferring historical data can be unnecessary and costly. You really don’t need to move everything. Reduce your time and resources needed for the movement.


The testing and verification stage is the final important phase in the process and is a dress rehearsal before going live. A strategy at this step is critical at various points of the installation so issues can be addressed early instead of late in the cycle creating more expense and difficulty in correcting the problem later on.


If you get stuck with the migration process, seek external help. But first, make sure you allow for outside resources in your initial planning stages and be prepared.  Doing so will save you time, money and sleepless nights.


For more information on content migration support, visit Sanmita, Inc



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Lauri Stone

Lauri Stone is Director of Client Relations at Sanmita, Inc., a web design and development firm offering strategy, design, and technology services to higher education, government, and nonprofit entities. She comes to Sanmita with over 25 years of experience in media marketing and advertising and is located in Los Angeles, California.