Successful Migration from One ECM to Another: Part 1

by | Jul 25, 2017 | Data Migration, Enterprise Content Management | 0 comments

prepare for ecm migration

Does your current ECM system work properly for your organization? Is it easy to use? Or you do find it daunting and even intimidating? If you do get ECM headaches, it may be time for you to start thinking upgrading or migrating away from your current ECM system and onto another, more user-friendly content and documents management system.

ECM migration is not something you just do at a whim. It takes planning in the same way you would plan an ECM implementation and architecture or risk a catastrophic failure of the whole migration project.

So, when it comes to migrating to a new ECM system, it is important to document all your needs. With this list of ECM requirements, comparing your current ECM system to the functionalities you are searching in the new system will be straightforward. For your organization to make the best strategic decision and get the most value from the new ECM system, you should consider each of these stages carefully.

1. Evaluation: Make a snapshot of where your current ECM stands

The whole process of migrating to new Enterprise Content Management system (ECM) requires good planning of your transition. Before looking for a new ECM system, you should consider an evaluation of your current system that takes a complete view of your users, processes, policies, architecture and tools.

ecm migration process

The first step is to make a snapshot of where your current ECM system stands and understand the requirements for a successful migration. To easily evaluate your current system and take inventory of the data that you will need to migrate, you should cover the following steps:

  • Start with a list of locations of all your data, then understand the volume of the data you want to migrate, and lastly understand the structure, security, etc. of the data that you want to migrate.
  • Next, map out where that data is in the business process. This will help you understand what data is accessed when and by whom. Knowing where the data is in the workflow will determine the migration timeline.
  • Map out the data change frequency. For example, if you were to run a migration today while users are making changes to the data, how will that affect your migration strategy? Knowing how data changes will define the migration strategy you take.
  • Understand the metadata and document properties. The data is more valuable if you can easily search it and find it. Examine the data model and how it is used, where the metadata is stored and what metadata you need in the new ECM system. This will help you map the right metadata and content into the new system. This is the perfect time to ensure your data is meeting the business needs.

Considering each of these areas carefully will help you define your goals for the project and easily migrate your current ECM system.

2. Cleanup: See what data needs to go, and what needs to shrink

data cleanup for ecm migration

What is the best time to cleanup your data of no value if not when you are migrating to a new ECM system? By cleaning up the data that is sitting unmanaged in local shared resources and SharePoint or similar sites, you will gain better access to the information that is of actual value to your organization. In order to figure out what needs to go, and what needs to stay, you should ask yourself some questions:

  • Are there some specific features that you need to preserve when migrating?
  • What data can you archive or delete from your current ECM system?
  • Do you have data in active workflows?
  • Do you need to preserve versions?

Most of the times, organizations usually keep data of no value. But sometimes you may end up keeping data of negative value. Outdated files that are containing personally identifiable information is just one example of how the data can expose you to security risk, reputation risk, and even legal risk.

Migrating data of no value and data of negative value to a new ECM system is a complete waste of time. And a liability migration too. This is why minimization is important. You remove duplications, errors, and liabilities, and confirm that the data is cleaned up before migration. The best way to minimize the data of no value and of negative value from your current ECM system is to archive or delete it. This will depend on the legal framework your organization is upholding for data storage. But whatever the legal nuances are, you need to determine what data needs to go and what needs to shrink.

3. Optimization: Find ways to improve the business process

In order to stay competitive, you should be constantly improving your business process. Yet, with a system that lacks agility and is highly expensive to modify, this can be quite difficult.

data optimization and workflow improvement for ecm migration

Some time ago, it was acceptable for organizations to spend 2 or 3 months reprogramming their business solution when processes needed to change. But as a modern organization, you will want to configure your ECM system easily and quickly. And before you move forward with the processes, it’s good to find ways to streamline workflows as much as possible. Maybe filled out forms won’t need to be sent to department heads for review before they are processed, returned to the sender, or archived. Maybe the review process won’t have to be done by printing and then scanning a feedback. Maybe the internal search functionality will need to be easily configurable for metadata or content search. There are hundreds of ways to review and optimize processes while remaining compliant.

Nowadays organizations don’t have the time and don’t need to devote vast resources to such business process edits. When looking to migrate onto a new ECM, see if these apply to your situation:

  • You will want to map out business processes without the need of writing new code,
  • You will want to be able to simply drag and drop new business rules
  • You will want improved agility.

If an ECM system isn’t allowing you to quickly respond to the conditional changes, it’s not a solution- it’s an anchor that is preventing you to move forward, to move fast. And you do not want to be in this position. In this case, you’ll have to move on with the search for the optimal ECM solution

If you want your organization to have an optimal business outcome, the new ECM system will need to work hand in hand with your business process management (BPM). Better still, you may want to think outside of the ECM/BPM box and consider a Case Management solution instead. Companies that are interested in agility and scalability often times opt for a Case Management System as it can do both document management and workflow management. There are even open source case management systems like

An optimized set of business rules helps to improve overall efficiency, improve the responsiveness, increase visibility and minimize human errors. It will also improve the regulatory compliance and reduce liability.

4. Build the blocks: New data capture forms and new workflows

Now that you have gone through the previous areas regarding your migration from one EMC system to another, it’s time to consider the taxonomy, folder structure, workflows, document templates, and proper security settings.

building blocks of ecm migration

As you have already gone through a rigorous cleanup of your data, you will need to create new data capture forms that match this streamlined list of metadata that you want to capture with each document you store. Some data capture forms may be streamlined or it may be a case of enabling the auto-fill option of some data fields on larger forms. You may even consider reorganizing the archiving structure based on newer business rules. You will want to go through all of these steps to form the building blocks of your new system to manage the data and workflows in your organization.


When migrating to an open architecture and flexible ECM system consider the sides in this article.  Armedia has helped organizations like Superior Energy, Office of Personnel Management, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Ineos Phenol and many others migrate from one ECM platform to another using Caliente.  In recent years, most of our customers have been migrating to Alfresco or Microsoft Office 365. The benefits of Alfresco includes an open standard based ECM platform; lower costs; support for cloud computing and mobile; strong governance; and easy systems integration.

Your content is very important—you can’t just stop the daily business activities when considering an ECM system migration. It’s the data that drives your business processes in corporate legal, human resources, contracts, and procurement.

A successful migration from one ECM to another is about making the content smart and easy. With the right system, partner and migration strategy, you have an enterprise content management system that supports your business.

We want to hear from you. Please feel free to share your thoughts with us.

Continue onto: Successful Migration from One ECM to Another: Part 2


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