Ditch the spreadsheet for content analysis.

Estimating migration effort: the six steps of handling content

Last updated August 29th, 2018. First published

Key Points

  • Estimating migration effort is one of the most important steps to take in your migration.
  • When estimating, estimate the effort for buckets of content (not separately for each page).
  • There are six potential steps of handling content, and you should skip steps where possible.
Related resource
Estimating Migration Effort | An approach to estimating migration effort to avoid surprises

When planning a migration, one of the most effective tools is to start estimating your manual migration effort as soon as possible. Although you should skips steps whenever possible, these six steps below should be considered when estimating your manual migration effort. In addition to this blog post, please also download a short PDF exploring these steps in a bit more detail, along with an example analysis to flesh this out more.

CONSIDER each step when planning but SKIP steps where possible.

What questions are being asked at each step:

1. Sort: what am I going to do with this content?
2. Place: where is this content going?
3. Edit: does a human need to edit the content itself (not the HTML)?
4. Move / Transform: how is this content going to be moved / transformed?
5. Enhance: Do I need to enhance the content's metadata?
6. QA: Actually confirming the migration was reasonable quality

Even without a deep analysis, you can get a feel for the type of process you have before you by considering these steps and your approach.  Some sites will have no sorting at all (moving all content), while for other sites this may be a significant part of the entire effort.  Similarly, placing content may be obvious if you're keeping the exact site structure.  So if some steps seem irrelevant, those may be areas where your migration is simpler than others.  That said, all of these decisions can change during planning.

Also note that aside from the Edit step, there's room for automation at every step. But most focus is on the Move step (and usually with minimal transformation), with people thinking about how the content is going to be rammed into the new system (and hence criticisms like Web content migration: disastrous strategy).  Consider automation for each step, but make sure it will lead to the quality level you need.

Estimating Migration Effort An approach to estimating migration effort to avoid surprises