When Should I Start My Community Migration Project?

Gary Lungarini

Considering a community migration, but unsure of the timing? There are many factors to take into account that will impact the timeline of your migration project. As you would expect, each company can be very different in terms of their speed in decision making, level of purchasing, governance, overall process, number of decision making or influencing groups, etc. In general, larger companies will take longer to migrate their communities.

The good news is that there is no penalty to starting early. However, starting too late can be costly.

At Social Edge, we have spoken to dozens of clients that simply did not prepare early enough to meet the timing of their current platform’s renewal date. This resulted in them renewing with a software platform for one to three years where they had a strategic vision to move to a new platform.

There is a hidden business opportunity cost of not moving to the platform of your choice.

More acutely, there is a very real and public short-term impact, as it can be very costly to renew on your old platform for just one year. In some cases, the software company simply won’t allow you to do so and you will potentially be forced to renew for two or three years. Three years is the industry standard for most cloud based software company contracts.

Best Practice: Start your planning 18 months prior to your renewal/migration date. A typical migration project can take between 3-6 months.

“The expert team from Social Edge had done several migration efforts to the platform before, so they had a seamless process and a smart project plan, which allowed us to migrate the content efficiently and with a lot less stress than we would have, had we tried to do it ourselves. We had a very successful migration that happened on time and on budget - what few issues we did find were quickly identified and mitigated.”

Kate Weaver

Director of Extranet Communities

Health Catalyst

Community Migration Project Timeline


You will likely need to think about your project during the prior fiscal year’s budgeting cycle.

Most companies have a budget cycle from January 1 to December 31. They prepare the year’s budget from August through November of the prior year. The year in which you migrate from one community to another, you will incur one-time set-up and content migration costs for which you will need to secure budget dollars. In a worst case situation, a December renewal date where you would look to migrate to a new platform you would need to have the budget planning start in August of the prior year. Let’s call this 18 months prior to your migration date. Start early!

Best Practice: Begin your budget planning 18 months prior to your migration date.

Starting the Selection Process

We recommend starting the selection process about six months to one year in advance of your renewal/migration date to begin working on the practical steps of your project. The range of time is mainly driven by your internal process.

Some companies have procurement governance requiring a full RFP (Request for Proposal) which can be a lengthy and time consuming process. Other companies will require extra time to navigate several internal key stakeholders.

For an internal community, this is typically corporate communications, information technology, and often the human resources department and possibly some key business areas. For an external community it is often marketing, service/support, information technology, as well as various product and service areas of the business.

Scheduling demonstrations, gathering feedback, compromising and agreeing on the strategy and solution can all take considerable time. Again, start early.

Best Practice: Start your selection process 6 months to one year in advance of your renewal/migration date.

Project Execution Timing

Our experience at Social Edge is a community migration project typically takes three to six months. This is assuming you have selected a software platform and secured contracts with the software company and any third party service providers to implement your content migration and community configuration.

While it is possible to execute a migration in less time (we have migrated a community from one platform to another in as little as 30 days!) it is not best practice. On occasions where a client has requested us to execute a project in less time, there are often several compromises the client must make to adhere to the shorter timeframe.

Best Practice: Plan for your migration project to take 3 to 6 months.

Planning ahead is crucial when it comes to migrating your community platform. Starting early and following best practices can help you avoid costly renewals and ensure a seamless migration process. If you need help with your community migration project, don't hesitate to contact Social Edge today!