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The Boomer Bulletin - 2013
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Lessons Learned From a Document Management Migration

Posted By Erin Cheever, Thursday, September 12, 2013

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 management migration. 

#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: 

  1. 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. 
  2. 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. 
  3. 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 Approach 

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

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 exist. 

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.   

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