Surviving a Content Migration: What’s Your Strategy for Success?

Is your organization planning a content migration to a new knowledge management system? As reported in our recent Guidebook, How to Lead a Successful Content Migration (published in partnership with Eventus Solutions Group):

“The reality is that many knowledge management programs are struggling to adapt to the trends facing them. Today’s tools and content are not able to deliver the customer knowledge experience required. At the same time, there is an abundance of content, spread out among several repositories.”

To address the challenges of migrating large amounts of content into a new system, content migration projects require careful planning and an organized approach. The best way to make it through the process with your head above water is to learn how to avoid the common pitfalls by developing a cohesive migration strategy.

Common Obstacles to Successful Content Migrations


Underestimating the amount of time and resources it takes to complete a content migration is one of the biggest mistakes that organizations make during the planning phase. This is typically the result of skipping a full content audit, which uncovers just how much content you really have, or misunderstanding the full scope of the content. Irrevo and Eventus noted, “The end result of the assessment and scoping phase is a completed roadmap highlighting all the specific content migration project deliverables. It captures the key strategic decisions that will serve as the project’s guiding principles and provides a framework to direct all future decisions.”

Having unorganized or heavily formatted content that can’t be migrated without manual work (i.e. converting PDF or Word documents) can hurt your budget if you aren’t prepared. Many legacy knowledge base software systems utilize older document types that simply aren’t compatible with today’s technologies. When creating a content migration budget, you must take into account the time it will take to convert file types or to create new versions of your content that can be migrated into the new system.

Without a quality control system in place, you’ll never know how successful your content migration really was. Every successful content migration plan has a way of tracking content from start to finish and performing quality checks to ensure the best final product. Keeping track of the number of articles that are migrated and verifying that each one has been properly formatted, tagged and imported will save you time and money, and will serve as a helpful way to measure your success.

Avoiding Migration Mistakes

Step 1. Complete a full content audit to get a realistic view of your migration needs.

Get a full count of the number of articles you have and all other pieces of content that you want to migrate. Be sure to note different file types and flag content types that may be difficult to migrate into a new system. Take special care to note image files, embedded tables and linked content, since each of these types of content pose their own challenges. Figuring out any technical issues before you dive into the migration process makes it much easier to avoid errors along the way.

Step 2. Make sure the migration team understands the content they are working with.

Both internal employees and external consultants on the team should have a basic understanding about the content they are working with. At a minimum, having an internal SME available to answer specific content questions can help sort out the more complicated areas of your knowledge base. 

Step 3. Create a content checklist. This can be used as both a tracking document for the migration process and as a QA checklist for the final verification. Having a content checklist makes it easy to maintain a smooth workflow, and it helps keep the team accountable for the work that is completed. This checklist should include a list of each content item, along with any relevant details, including tags, the new category designation and location, and a list of any embedded attachments or images. Use this list to make sure that all items were migrated correctly by verifying the content once it’s been moved into the new system.

Smart Preparation is the Key

When it comes to successfully implementing a content migration strategy, being prepared with the right information is the best way to stay ahead. By avoiding the common mistakes that can quickly derail a migration, you can stay on budget and on track every step of the way.