Migrating IT systems is not a process that should be taken lightly. It can take months of planning, involves vast amounts of money to pull off, and can hurt the business massively should the whole thing backfire. Even big names like Lidl, Deutsche Bank and Haribo have found themselves in sticky situations after their migration attempts went awry.
But while the potential for supply chain disruption, unhappy customers and inadequate workflows is high, successful IT system migration is not impossible; it just needs plenty of preparation beforehand. To help you avoid making the wrong moves, we’ll take a look at what you need to consider, and what to watch out for, when migrating systems within your company.
What is an IT system migration?
System migration is the process of transferring data and programs to a newer hardware infrastructure or a different software platform in order to keep up with current technologies.
This may take the form of physical system migration, when current hardware devices have become outdated or damaged over time. Alternatively, it may involve data-based migration where files and data are transferred to a new operating system.
What are the challenges of IT system migration?
Before you start preparing for your IT system migration, understanding the reasons why such a process often fails is key. Below, you’ll find some of the biggest challenges and risks that stand in the way of successful system migrations, so you know what to watch out for.
Poorly understood or undocumented legacy systems
Although we all wish the opposite were true, your legacy systems are most likely improperly documented or implemented. Staff involved in the beginning of the systems’ set ups may have moved on or retired. If you’re to develop a proper migration plan, then you’ll need to fully understand your legacy systems before making the move.
If the new operating system or platform can’t meet your business’s needs, then you’re sure to run into problems. Remember, migrations aren’t a cure all. Exchanging one problem for another is common, so you should decide on what you definitely need compared to what’s merely a luxury.
Involving people from across the business who are knowledgeable about other areas can help here. Use this part of the process to confirm what’s a requirement and what you can solve simply by implementing different processes. For instance, if storage capacity is an issue, see if it can be addressed through things like automating file clean-ups to free up more space.
Poor planning and testing
A lack of planning before a migration can create its share of consequences, but it’s something that is generally overlooked in favour of other issues. Without the proper testing, corrupted data and other pain points can easily make their way into your migration. Make sure you’re putting aside the time and resources to incorporate testing into your migration plan.
In a project as big as a system migration, shoddy communication and complex technical requirements make for a poor combination. If executives, IT teams and end users aren’t properly communicating with each other, then you’re bound to encounter problems.
Make sure everyone is on the same page before, during and after the migration.
A checklist for migrating IT Systems in your business
Now that you know some of the challenges to expect from systems migration, here’s how you should proceed with the process itself. Tick off the below checklist to ensure a greater chance of system migration success.
Involve your stakeholders
Your system migration shouldn’t just be confined to the IT department. When you consider how much the process affects everyone, it makes sense to involve as many people across the company as possible.
Whether it’s sales, accounting, supply chain or production, the more people who can understand why the process is taking place, the better.
Likewise, you should emphasise the value of the switch to your users. Whether it’s an increase in sales or more streamlined processes that aid efficiency, getting as many people as possible onboard with your migration should be a key goal.
Get to grips with your existing processes
Like we hinted at earlier, you should understand as much as you can about your existing processes. This can help you identify performance issues, clear up whether you should invest in improvements or not, and help you decide which elements to migrate.
That said, process mapping that takes a subjective approach based on idealised process models is often slow and costly. Instead of trusting your instincts, it’s far better to take the data-driven path at this point.
Create deadlines and milestones
Not only do timelines and KPIs for key milestones help to keep everything accountable during migration, but the structure they provide lets each member of the team understand the running order of tasks, while also allowing you to identify skills gaps and potential budget issues too.
Use technology to your advantage
A cache of innovative, powerful technologies at your disposal can make the migration process go a lot smoother, so make sure you’re stocking up on what’s available to you. Things like process mining, automation, AI, and machine learning can provide cutting edge support, whether that’s more objective project mapping, identifying process deviations, testing out new processes or solving inefficiencies.
Check-in and communicate frequently
The progress of your migration is something that should be monitored regularly throughout the process. Make it a point to hold check-ins during key phases of your migration, as well as establishing processes that can track progress towards your business outcomes.
Performance metrics like conformance, workaround or lag time between process steps can help monitor progress, while frequent status reports, FAQs and newsletters can ensure the team stays informed and on the same page.
If your data migration process means you’ll have excess computing hardware your office no longer needs, we can help. Head to our homepage or call 0333 060 5203 to discover what CDL can do for you.