A few pearls of wisdom that we've gained from working on several content audit and migration efforts.
Your company’s new intranet and team sites are about to be launched soon. This incredible new solution was the brainchild of the Corporate Communications Director. He’s already changed his laptop’s wallpaper to have the new company logo that was a part of the rebranding they did for the new solution.
The new homepage looks amazing. It has a real-time analytics dashboard that shows the latest key performance indicators and performance metrics on the state of the company. It has a custom news feed that aggregates industry news stories from around the world and refreshes every minute. The solution runs like a dream on the executives’ tablets and the remote engineers’ mobile phones. But wait, something is amiss. The director gasps for air from that old action item he totally forgot about from months ago. What other content is going to be available and stored on the rest of the sites?
The company scrambles to find the ideal candidate to spearhead the migration of content to the new solution. Although the company would love to have a migration team with senior Subject Matter Experts (SME) who are most familiar with all the different legacy content, everyone is already stretched thin and over-allocated to multiple projects. At long last, they believe they have found their hero in the college intern, Tom, who’s rumored to be a quick study. The company holds their collective breath while hoping that Tom will be able to quickly migrate some useful content to the new solution before the official launch day…
When a company decides to launch a new Content Management System (CMS), legacy content audits and migrations are a necessary evil that must be confronted and overcome.
Everyone recognizes that buried within all the outdated and irrelevant clutter, there’s treasure to be found. We know this because we all have our own ingenious methods of capturing and saving it. Some folks are big believers in browser bookmarks, others keep backups in their emails, and last but certainly not least, workers store this invaluable content on their personal hard drive or file share.
The amazing sales deck that Mark presented last week. The mystifying financials report Sandy whipped up last month. The latest Unily training guide documentation. But to return to our central problem in the example earlier, which unfortunate soul should be tasked with finding and collecting all this treasure so it can be moved to the new CMS solution?
While many companies try to pin these audit and migration efforts on a handful of individuals or Tom the college intern, we know that this is often a losing proposition from the very beginning. Some managers refuse to acknowledge the amount of clutter from legacy content, so they obstinately demand that all of it be migrated.
But, then the company’s knowledge workers are stuck with a brand new shiny intranet of garbage.
At the other end of the spectrum, companies task a set of technical and power users to spearhead the migration effort. But, the more a migration team is divorced from the actual subject matter experts who are familiar with the legacy content, it’s no surprise when angry business users start pounding on doors asking why the pictures from 1999’s Happy Hour are available on the new solution, but all of their status reports are missing. There has to be a better way, right?
1. Audit Now, Migrate Later
Even if your new CMS solution is months away from being developed and deployed, start auditing your legacy content now. Start cataloguing what legacy content should be removed, archived, or migrated according to simple criteria such as ROT (Redundant, Outdated, Trivial).
2. Pick the Right Team
Build a content audit and migration team that will bolster your chances of success. Start with having a senior leader or executive who has the authority and network to help build participation across different business units within the company. This senior leader can help socialize important developments and milestones during the project as well as mediate and resolve issues when roadblocks are encountered. Your team should also include a liaison who can help schedule auditing workshops and track progress against project deadlines.
The liaison should be an expert communicator and facilitator who can help the different business unit leaders realize the value of the project and ensure participation from their respective teams.
Next, you need a business analyst who can serve as the official cataloguer of the audited legacy content. This analyst should be able to assist business SMEs in auditing their content. They can provide business units with high-level, actionable reports on their legacy content that will make the auditing process go faster.
Lastly, you need a technical architect who not only knows how to leverage tools for analyzing and migrating content, but also has solid skills in information architecture so that they can ensure the new solution doesn’t become an unorganized sprawl of clutter.
3. Enlist SME Champions
Seek out and recruit subject matter experts from each business unit who are deeply familiar with the content their department generates and leverages. Give them access to analytics reports on existing legacy content so they can be empowered to spearhead the auditing effort for their team’s content. It is especially important to enlist SME champions at companies whose workforce is global and/or work remotely. They can work with their respective team members and be the funnel for auditing decisions on their legacy content.
4. Start Small
Start with auditing and migrating business units whose volume of legacy content isn’t terrifying or complex. Use these first business units to build additional sponsors and/or champions who can help build goodwill with other business units that you’re auditing/migration team will later be working with. Be realistic. Be patient. Set goals for how much legacy content can be audited and/or migrated within given timeframes so you can assess the team’s velocity. Most importantly, be willing to adjust these goals based on the velocity your auditing and migration team is able to achieve given its current resources.
5. Don't Spreadsheet SMEs to Death
Architects and developers have several tools or custom scripts they can leverage to assist with the auditing and migration work. Just because one of these tools can easily generate and export a spreadsheet of information for every single document in a given team site doesn’t mean that a spreadsheet is the ideal communication channel when working with a business unit to audit and migrate their content.
Leverage your team’s business analyst to build user-friendly charts and diagrams from these raw spreadsheet reports. By investing extra time to consolidate, summarize, and present the data reports, your business units will be better enabled to take action on their legacy content. Excel is a useful, powerful tool almost any team can leverage to quickly and easily create charts and diagrams from raw data in spreadsheets to show trends and patterns from a given set of legacy content.