15 Frequently Asked Questions on Platform Migrations

Amara Lennon

Migrating from one platform to another can seem daunting, but if you go into it with a clear strategy and organized content, it doesn't have to be. I interviewed Robert Hanson, Social Edge's collaboration technology architect and migration wiz, to answer some of the most frequently asked questions people have about platform migrations, but first, let’s explain what exactly a platform migration is.

What is a platform migration?

A platform migration is the process of moving an organization's digital assets, such as content, user data, and customizations, from one software platform to another. This often involves transitioning from an older or less suitable platform to a newer, more feature-rich, or better-aligned platform that can better support the organization's evolving needs and goals. 

Platform migrations can apply to various digital environments, including intranets for internal communication and collaboration, as well as external communities for customer engagement and support.

Common reasons to migrate to a new platform include outgrowing current systems, needing to consolidate multiple platforms, wanting to take advantage of new technologies, or needing to switch vendors for various factors such as cost, support, or product roadmap alignment. The migration process typically includes data export, mapping, transformation, and import stages, as well as change management activities to ensure a smooth transition for end-users.

1. What happens to my existing content when it's migrated from one platform to another?

It really depends on your business goals. When working with a client on a migration project, we start by asking what their primary objectives are so we can develop a platform migration project plan and platform migration checklist that matches their specific needs. As part of our platform strategy consulting services, we customize the experience and tailor it to each individual organization.

2. Is it possible to lose content or have items not be carried over?

Generally, everything will be migrated, but there may be some platform limitations that prevent migrating some content types.  If a limitation is discovered we will work with you to come up with a solution that may allow us to retain your content in a different but similar format.   Additionally, we advise conducting a data cleanup and review prior to the content migration. This proactive step ensures that you only transfer essential content and it aligns with best practices in change management, helping streamline the transition and minimize disruptions.

‍3. How do I make sure that all of my content is organized and moved to the correct areas once it's migrated to a new platform?

In order to make sure everything is migrated to the correct places we work with you to make an inventory of your content followed by a mapping exercise to keep everything organized. You can map it closely to your current state so that the future state reflects what you already have set up in the community you are migrating from. Alternatively, sometimes our clients prefer to use this mapping exercise to do an overall platform cleanup and map content to new information architecture by creating new space/group hierarchies.

‍4. What types of content can be migrated from one platform to another?

It depends on the platforms you are migrating from and to, and the platform's capabilities. By capabilities we are referring to what the API of each platform allows us to do with regards to exporting and importing data. Our team will work with you to identify any affected content items and attempt to identify alternate data migration strategies to meet your business goals.

5. What happens if a content type I have in the community I'm migrating from does not exist in the new platform?

We try to find alternative content types that meet your objectives. For example, take the "helpful answers" feature. Some platforms don't support "helpful answers" but every platform has a similar feature in some form or another, such as "suggested answers." In scenarios like this, we'd used the recommended platform approach to accomplish this goal. Another example would be document versioning. Modern intranet and community software platforms like Verint and Igloo have "wikis" that support the versioning of content, similar to native Jive documents, so we would use that content type to provide you with similar capabilities.

‍6. Can user profiles (profile fields, profile photos avatars/points) be migrated?

The ability to migrate profile data depends greatly on the platform you are migrating to, but typically we are able to migrate the majority if not all of your profile data.  If you are looking at a specific platform to migrate your data to we could provide you with a free intranet or customer community platform consultation on how well your current profile data maps to the target platform.

7. How are permissions impacted during a migration?

Sometimes permissions can be exported but we haven't found this to be the best way to set them up on a new platform as permissions don't always match up from one platform to another. During a platform migration project our Social Edge online community consultantswork with our clients to inventory existing permissions and map them out in the new platform.

8. We have moderation enabled in the community we're migrating off of. How does this impact the migration?

Turn off moderation in the new platform for the import so it's not stuck in the moderation queue and awaiting admin approval. If you have content in the moderation queue of your current platform during a data migration (content that has not yet been approved or rejected) it is typically not exported, so the moderation queue should be reviewed by an administrator before a data export.

9. What happens to content that has been saved as a draft and not yet published? Will this be migrated over?

It depends on the platform, but generally any content that is in a state other than "published" (e.g. drafts, archived content, future dated blog posts, etc.) will not be visible to our export tooling. For example, a future dated blog post is only visible to the author, so our tooling won't be able to see it to export it. Our recommendation from a change management perspective would be to give your users advance notice that a migration is coming, what to expect, and how to publish their content so it is brought over.

10. Can content be back-dated?

In most cases, yes, content can be back-dated during a platform migration. This means that the original creation and modification dates of the content can be preserved, ensuring that the migrated content maintains its historical context and timeline. 

Back-dating is particularly important for content such as blog posts, news articles, or announcements, where the publication date is relevant to the context and chronology of the information.

However, it's essential to note that the ability to back-date content may depend on the capabilities of the target platform and the migration tools being used. Some platforms may have limitations or restrictions on back-dating, so it's important to discuss this requirement with your migration consultants to ensure that your specific needs can be met.

11. Can links in content be maintained (including @mentions)?

In most cases, yes, internal links within the content can be maintained during a platform migration, including @mentions. This is key to preserving the interconnectedness of your content and ensuring that users can still navigate through related information after the migration.

However, there may be some exceptions, such as links within attachments like Word documents, where the migration tool might not be able to automatically update the links. In such cases, manual content and file updates may be required to ensure that all links are properly updated and functional post-migration.

It's important to discuss your specific requirements regarding link preservation with your migration consultant to ensure that the migration plan accounts for any potential challenges and includes strategies to address them. Additionally, it's recommended to perform a thorough post-migration audit and testing to prevent broken links and verify that all links, including @mentions, are functioning as expected.

12. How much does a platform migration cost?

The cost of a platform migration can vary widely depending on several factors, such as:

  • The size and complexity of your current environment
  • The amount of data and number of users to be migrated
  • The specific platform you are migrating to
  • The need for custom features or integrations
  • The level of support and training required during and after the migration

Because these variables can significantly influence the overall cost, it's best to consult with an intranet or online community migration specialist who can provide a detailed quote based on your specific requirements. We will provide a solution that meets your budget and platform needs. ‍Generally, a thorough assessment of your current system and needs will be conducted to give a more accurate estimate. 

13. How long does a platform migration take?

A typical platform migration can take 8-12 weeks, but it depends on the size of the migration and your business objectives.

14. How far in advance should I begin to plan for a platform migration?

Typically you should start planning a platform migration around six months before your next platform license renewal, and you should start your data migration no later than three months before your license renewal. Many platforms are willing to negotiate the start of the production license date.

15. How do I get started with my platform migration?

Looking for help with an upcoming intranet migration or customer community migration? We can help with that! Download our platform migration ebook or set up a free intranet or customer community demo discovery call to help you kick off the process.