The lessons learned are simple. Learning those lessons was
hard. As our company underwent (and is still going through) a document
management migration, I often asked myself "in the end, what am I going to learn
from this?” From the blood, sweat and tears (literally) what knowledge could I
share that I learned throughout this process? The five lessons in this article
are definitely a starting point and a guide for anyone undertaking a document
#1 - Don’t Start With the Solution
Often times we consider the purpose of the planning and
research phase to simply be to find the perfect technology platform. We say "I
have found what I want to use, so let’s go with that.” The platform is not step
one in the process. It is the last step. There are several questions that must
be answered before you are able to move forward and determine the platform.
Start by asking yourself the following questions:
- What type
of files do you have? Presentations. Contracts. Agendas. Webinar
recordings. What else is there? You have to determine what kind of files you
have before you can even get started.
- Do you know where all of the information goes? Determine how things are organized and what type of simple framework they currently follow. Set your standards and follow them.
- How is
the information going to be used? Internally. Externally. Also, determine
if it is important to be able to access all documents from any device?
Only after you have successfully
asked yourself these questions, and determined the answers, can you move
forward with choosing your platform.
#2 - Follow the Team
Although there is usually one person who will be responsible
for leading the project, it is important to realize that this type of
undertaking should include a team approach. Do not be a rugged individual. You
will need help. Recognize that each person on your team has different unique
abilities and can be pulled in during different phases of the project. Utilize
your people. You will be better off in the end because you did so.
#3 - Build in
Accountability is defined as "the quality or state of being
accountable; especially: an obligation or willingness to accept responsibility
or to account for one's actions.” As you follow the team approach, the word
accountability becomes vital. The individuals involved in your project are
going to need to do what they say they are going to do, when they say they are
going to do it. The success of your migration lies in your team’s ability to
remain accountable for everything that might come their way.
#4 - We Are Never Too Old for Study Hall
As part of our efforts to learn the new system, we deployed
a company-wide study hall. This one and a half hour, twice a week meeting
allowed individuals involved with the document migration to really concentrate and
work on the project. It was a time to ask questions and discuss as a group. It
was a time to simply devote your attention to the migration with no
interruptions. This clear focus time as a company has allowed us to get back on
schedule to meet our deadline.
#5 - Be Realistic
About Your Timeline
Two words. Be realistic. For many companies, including ours,
a document migration is a huge undertaking. It takes time. It takes planning.
It takes research. It takes a team. Although you might feel your deadline is
obtainable, be realistic. Consider all of the factors. Consider all of the
obstacles. Consider all of your goals.
Consider the timeline. And then double it. If you set a realistic timeline from
the beginning, the disappointment and frustration of not meeting it will not
Although the above lessons are based on our document
management migration project, the lessons hold true for any technology
transition project you conduct in your firm.
If you consider the five lessons above, your transition will be much
easier and the project will have more buy-in from the entire firm.