Content Migration Plan: Why it is important and How to do it

Occasionally KMers need to move those voluminous contents from the old intranet to a new one. There could be many reasons to build a new intranet, the most common one  is technology advancement. The current model of web 2.0 (social web) is all the rage now in the internet, partly because it invites people into conversation online. The corporate intranet has to move with time, and reflect this trend. In fact, there is a new term for the web 2.0-like intranet: the social intranet (I’m not kidding, you can google the term, and you will find thousands of articles talking about the social intranet).

It certainly feels like you have won a life time achievement, when you’ve managed to persuade your management to invest in the social intranet (yes, I acknowledge that selling new idea to the management is a hard work. I’ve been there, trust me). But, there is no time to sit on your laurels. There is an even bigger task to do. No! I’m not talking about setting up the Content Management System (CMS) in the organisation’s IT infrastructure. And I’m not referring to user adoption strategy (another major task to do). I’m talking about coming up with detailed content migration plan – a task that you need to do as soon as you got the “go-ahead” from the management.

A content migration plan is an content evaluation exercise where you examine the current contents in the intranet, and determine whether you want to migrate the content, re-write it, or archive it.  This will ensure you migrate good contents (valuable contents, not the ones that ROT – redundant, outdated, or trivial) only. By ensuring only quality contents get migrated, you will make user adoption easier (the next major task to do after developing a content migration plan).

The main reason you need a content a migration plan is because you don’t want junk contents in your new intranet. Storing junk contents in the new intranet is like putting lipstick on a pig (borrowing Sarah Palin’s rather infamous quote). Users will be disappointed to find the same old contents in the new intranet. Most users want quality contents first, better layout/navigation design second, and cutting-edge technology last (only IT geeks – a fragment of the workforce – care about the technology behind the intranet).

So, how do you develop a content migration plan? At this point of time, you may be tempted to automate this task due to the sheer amount of boring laborious work. Well, lo and behold, usually the devil (that’s your IT vendor) appears and offers an automated migration tool that can “magically” migrate contents from the old intranet to the new one within a click of a button. Here is my advise: don’t! Don’t take up the offer because automated migration tool is a “garbage in garbage out” tool – which means the tool assumes the structure of the new intranet is the same as the old one (this is an unlikely scenario).

Alas, you will have to develop the plan manually using Microsoft Excel spreadsheets. There is no better alternative. The following screen-shot is my recommended template for content migration plan:

The columns in the old intranet section mirrors those in the new intranet section. The intention is to account for each content in the old intranet, and map it to the new intranet. There is “status” column (the one that states whether the content is good, redundant, outdated, or trivial) in the new intranet section, because you would want to migrate good contents only.

For the Page ID column, you can assign arbitrary number (as long as it makes sense. That is, put related contents in logical order). The purpose of this column is to provide quick reference.

The rest of the columns are self-explanatory. But, the intranet team would need to work with the content owner to fill-up the remarks column, i.e. to indicate whether contents need to be rewritten, deleted, or created.

Further Readings:

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