How To Prepare for a Platform Migration

Gary Lungarini

Migrating Platforms? Here are 3 steps to prepare.

Migrating your intranet or external community to a new platform can be a large task, but there are several compelling reasons for a migration. Some common reasons for a migration include accessing new features and functionality, improving scalability and performance, enhancing user experience, and aligning with evolving business needs. In our experience, these steps will help ensure you are covering all of the strategic considerations as well as some key tasks and milestones when planning a migration. Some have called this a pre-project as it is the preparation needed before you begin the specific tasks to migrate to a new platform.

There are three main areas to the migration process: Community Strategy, Platform Selection and Implementation Planning. Let’s jump in!

Key Takeaways

  • Align your community strategy with your organization's business goals and vision
  • Define clear, measurable success factors and prioritize key use cases
  • Thoroughly evaluate potential platforms based on your unique requirements and conduct rigorous testing and demos
  • Develop a comprehensive migration plan that includes data migration, setup and configuration, user adoption, and ongoing support
  • Engage experienced partners like Social Edge Consulting to provide guidance, best practices, and hands-on support throughout the migration process

1. Community Strategy

When planning a platform migration, it's essential to re-evaluate and confirm your overall community strategy. Use this opportunity to review the following strategic areas and answer key platform migration questions:

Business Vision

Clearly define your community's business vision and how it aligns with your organization's overall goals. This will serve as a guiding light throughout the migration process. For example, if your organization's goal is to improve customer satisfaction, your community's vision could be to create a vibrant, self-service support online community that empowers customers to find answers quickly and easily.

Goals and Success Factors

Establish specific, measurable goals for your community and define the key success factors that will help you achieve them. These goals should be aligned with your business vision and will help you make informed decisions during the migration. Examples of goals could include increasing user engagement by 20%, reducing support tickets by 15%, or improving customer satisfaction scores by 10%. Success factors might include providing a user-friendly interface, offering valuable content and resources, and fostering a supportive community culture.

High-Level Use Cases

Identify the high-level use cases your community will support, such as knowledge sharing, collaboration, or customer support. These use cases will help you determine the necessary features and functionalities of your new platform. For instance, if customer support is a primary use case, you'll want to ensure your new platform has robust ticketing, knowledge base, and self-service capabilities.

High-Level Information Architecture

Outline the high-level information architecture for your community, including the main content areas, navigation structure, and user roles. This will serve as a blueprint for your new platform's setup and configuration. Consider factors such as the types of content you'll be sharing (e.g., articles, videos, forums), the organization of that content (e.g., by topic, product, or user type), and the different levels of access and permissions required for various user roles (e.g., admins, moderators, members).

Governance Model

Review and update your community's governance model, including policies, procedures, and roles and responsibilities. Ensure that your governance model aligns with your new platform's capabilities and best practices. This might include guidelines for content creation and moderation, user conduct and etiquette, and privacy and security protocols. Clearly define the roles and responsibilities of community managers, moderators, and other key stakeholders to ensure smooth operations and effective decision-making.

Best Practices and Adoption Plan

Research and document best practices for your new platform and develop an adoption plan to ensure successful user engagement and long-term success. Consider factors such as user onboarding, training, and ongoing support. For example, create a series of onboarding emails or videos to introduce new users to the community's features and benefits, offer regular training sessions or webinars to help users make the most of the platform, and provide a dedicated support channel for user questions and feedback.

Incorporate change management principles into your adoption plan to ensure a smooth transition for your users. This should include strategies for communication, engagement, and support throughout the migration process. Engage key stakeholders and user representatives to gather feedback, address concerns, and build buy-in for the new platform. Establish clear channels for ongoing communication and provide ample resources to help users adapt to the new environment. By proactively managing change and focusing on user adoption, you can minimize disruption and ensure a successful transition to your new community platform.

2. Platform Selection

Your platform selection process to choose the best community platform will likely include an RFP process, vendor demonstrations, and specific follow-ups on topics such as security, single sign-on, metrics, and third-party community integrations and widgets. To properly prepare, document the following areas of importance:

Identify Target Platforms

Create a list of potential target platforms that align with your community strategy and business requirements. Consider factors such as scalability, customization options, and vendor support. Research industry reviews, analyst reports, and customer testimonials to gather insights on each platform's strengths and weaknesses.

Current System

Evaluate your current platform and identify its strengths, weaknesses, and limitations. This will help you determine which features and functionalities to prioritize in your new platform. Conduct user surveys and stakeholder interviews to gather feedback on pain points, desired improvements, and must-have features.

Key Integrations

Identify the key systems and tools your community needs to integrate with, such as CRM, marketing automation, or analytics platforms. Ensure that your new platform can accommodate these integrations seamlessly. For example, if you rely heavily on Salesforce for customer data, make sure your new community platform has a robust Salesforce integration that allows for real-time data synchronization and unified user management.

Sunset Targets

Determine which platforms or tools will be sunset as part of the migration process and develop a plan to manage the transition and minimize disruption to users. This might involve creating a content migration plan, communicating changes to users well in advance, and providing resources and support to help users adapt to the new platform.

Data Migration Needs

Assess your data migration needs, including which data needs to be migrated, how it will be structured, and any data cleansing or transformation requirements. Consider factors such as data volume, complexity, and historical data retention. For instance, if you have a large volume of legacy forum posts, you'll need to determine how to map that content to your new platform's structure and ensure that important metadata (e.g., author, date, tags) is preserved.

Coordinate Demonstrations and Evaluations

Schedule demonstrations with shortlisted vendors and develop a structured evaluation process to assess each platform's capabilities, user experience, and alignment with your community strategy. Involve key stakeholders from across your organization to ensure diverse perspectives and buy-in. Create a scoring matrix that includes criteria such as ease of use, feature richness, customization options, and vendor support, and use this to objectively compare and rank each platform.

3. Implementation Planning

This final area of preparation is crucial to successfully position your team for the migration project. It involves defining the specific tasks, milestones, and responsibilities required to ensure a successful migration.

Software Pricing/Contracts

Now it’s time to negotiate intranet pricing and community software pricing. Review contracts with your chosen software vendor, ensuring that the terms align with your budget and business requirements. Consider factors such as licensing model, support and maintenance, and future scalability. Be sure to carefully review service level agreements (SLAs) and ensure that you have a clear understanding of the vendor's responsibilities and commitments.

Migration Scope/Pricing

Define the scope of the migration project and develop a detailed project plan and budget. This should include tasks such as data migration, platform configuration, user testing, and go-live support. Consider engaging a third-party service provider, such as Social Edge Consulting, to provide expertise and support throughout the migration process. Break the project down into manageable phases and milestones, and assign clear ownership and deadlines for each task.

Setup/Configuration Scope

Determine the setup and configuration requirements for your new platform, including:

Key Use Cases

Prioritize the key use cases your community will support and ensure that your new platform is configured to meet these needs effectively. For example, if employee collaboration is a primary use case, make sure your platform is set up with the appropriate workspaces, permissions, and collaboration tools (e.g., forums, wikis, blogs) to facilitate teamwork and knowledge sharing.


Plan the integration of your new platform with other systems and tools, ensuring that data flows seamlessly and user experience is optimized. This might involve working with your IT team or third-party developers to create custom APIs or connectors. Be sure to thoroughly test integrations before go-live to ensure data integrity and performance.


Develop a design plan for your new community, including branding, user interface, and navigation. Ensure that the design aligns with your organization's brand guidelines and promotes user engagement and adoption. Consider best practices for usability, accessibility, and responsive design to ensure a seamless experience across devices and user types.

Example Platform Migration Project Plan

Platform migration project plan

Intranet & Customer Community Platform Migration Services 

If you're considering a migration to a new intranet or customer community platform, we invite you to book a demo with Social Edge Consulting to see how our expert team can support you throughout the process. With over a decade of experience in implementing and optimizing digital workplaces and customer communities, we have the knowledge, skills, and best practices to ensure your migration is a success.

During your demo, we'll take the time to understand your unique goals, challenges, and requirements, and show you how our proven methodology and hands-on support can help you achieve your objectives. From strategy and platform selection to implementation, user adoption, and ongoing optimization, we'll be your trusted partner every step of the way.

Don't let the complexity of a platform migration hold you back from realizing the full potential of your digital workplace or customer community. Learn more about our intranet and customer community services.

“When we began planning the migration of our English and Chinese communities into one global community we knew we needed a strong partner; Social Edge was the obvious choice. Having worked with the Social Edge team for over five years we understood the strengths they would bring to the project. Their attention to detail, deep community platform knowledge and quality assurance focus were fundamental to our success.”

Lisa Allison

Enterprise Community Manager, Analog Devices 

Ready to Start Your Platform Migration Project?

Migrating to a new digital workplace or customer community platform requires careful planning and execution. It's important to understand why migrations are so expensive - the process involves a significant investment of time, resources, and expertise to ensure a smooth and successful transition. By assessing your current platform, defining your migration goals, choosing the right platform, developing a comprehensive migration plan, and ensuring proper setup and configuration, you can navigate the complexities of a migration and achieve your desired outcomes.

Remember to involve key stakeholders throughout the process, leverage best practices and expertise from intranet and customer community consultants like Social Edge Consulting, and prioritize user adoption and engagement. With the right preparation and execution, your community migration can be a catalyst for improved collaboration, knowledge sharing, and business success.

By following these steps and best practices, you'll be well-positioned to execute a successful community migration that delivers meaningful business impact and value for your users.