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With the deployment of a new technology platform for the intranet comes the daunting task of migrating content from the old site.
Hopefully there’s been a content cleanup, and a lot of the old and unused content has gone. This may still leave thousands or tens of thousands of pages to migrate.
As outlined in the previous article Content migration: options and strategies, there are three broad options for doing the migration:
- automated migration
- migration by hand
- partially automated migration
These pros and cons of these options are explored at some length in the article referenced. In practice, organisations are likely to do much of the migration by hand, supplemented by automated or semi-automated migration of key content areas.
(The less difference there is between the old and new technology platforms, the greater the opportunity for automated migration.)
Regardless of the migration approach being considered, there is a clear goal: to deliver a sustainable, effective and valuable intranet.
The decisions made about the migration, and how it involves content authors, are critical in achieving this outcome. This briefing explores how.
Where we want the intranet to end up
Regardless of the reason for creating a new intranet, it’s safe to assume that the current site has its problems.
As is widely discussed in the intranet community, there are considerable challenges in keeping the intranet up to date, and managing the authoring process.
When it comes to the content on the new intranet, the goals are clear:
- there is an owner for all content
- content owners are engaged, and understand their responsibilities
- content is well-written, with the general staff audience in mind
- content management practices are effective and sustainable
- content authors and owners are comfortable using the publishing tools
- information is kept up to date
- information is promptly deleted when no longer needed
To achieve this, the key principle for the content migration is: start as you plan to continue.
Empowering authors from the outset
If content owners and authors are expected to manage their content into the future, they must be set for success from the outset.
For example: the desired outcome is a widely decentralised authoring model, with the central intranet team taking a light oversight role.
But time is tight, and the old site must be turned off in a matter of months. This can lead to a ‘worst practice’ approach involving a centrally driven content migration.
This sees the site restructured, and content rewritten, all by a central team of contract writers. Other content is migrated automatically into the new site, pouring content into pre-defined ‘buckets’ on the new site.
After the new site goes live, content is then ‘handed back to the business’, who are expected to take ongoing ownership.
The authors, however, weren’t involved in the migration, and weren’t asked to take ownership at the time. The hands-off migration has also disempowered and deskilled them. Failure awaits.
Instead, intranet migration projects must start by determining how the site will be managed in a ‘business as usual’ state.
This content management model must then be applied to the migration itself. This would typically involve training authors, engaging them in the site redesign, and supporting them in migrating their own content.
This may require a rethink of the timeframes and approach, but there is no alternative if a sustainable outcome is required. With careful planning, there is always a path that leads to content success, even it takes a little longer.