The Perils Of The ‘Garbage In’ School Of Content Migration

Last time we did a quick overview of all the different elements that typically make up an organisation’s internal ‘memory bank’ – the ‘content’ that it will seek to preserve when it upgrades its systems. That content goes all the way from file systems to commercial or bespoke CMS to email via databases of all shapes and sizes.

Well, just how do we migrate all this variety of stuff? Well, people tend to try a small number of approaches: let me detail them.

One way we see trialled a lot is to leave all that content where it is and run parallel systems, so keep the old but then run new stuff alongside; all the new stuff goes into your new system and all the old content sits there, but you are still able to access it and read it. That is one option, which is basically to do nothing, which has some advantages (it is certainly easy).

Next option: you could migrate all the content, as it is, into your new information management system. This is basically taking a huge mass of information that you want in one huge port. This has the advantage of reducing the overall migration effort, but there is a high probability you are going to have duplicate and erroneous data in there, with content also being exposed to corruption as it gets shunted from one system to another. That is not ideal: you might want to think of the old data processing adage, GIGO (aka Garbage In – Garbage Out!).

Extensive Hoovering before the visitors come

The more sophisticated version of this is to carry out an extensive and thorough data clean-up prior to migration. So you look at the data you have, analysing and cleansing along the way, categorising the information and picking the good stuff you want to bring over. This means an increased up-front analysis effort but you get a better quality of final data downstream. Another variant is to carry out the data clean-up during the migration.

Those are the main approaches people take. It’s probably useful to discuss where working with SynApps and our content migration service experts could specifically help.

One way is if you’d passed the data clean up migration process over to the business. In that case, we’d come in to work with you on the migration stage. Another is where you want more collaboration with the business. We come in at this point to help you establish the quality of your content, and then help you address any deficiencies.

We can enhance the quality of the information by asking for additional information on the material provided by the business, through analysis and algorithms that you might apply during that process.

In the ‘leave things be’ option, instead of just leaving things static, we provide an interface which allows the team to search and retrieve the content in the old and the new. This is a powerful tool – the equivalent of getting a Google-like interface to access all this valuable corporate information.

I should also say we try to deter the approach of taking the old content and porting it over in one mass and sorting it when it’s available in the new system. You may not be surprised to learn, it’s GIGO. You’re just taking rubbish from one place and moving it to another.

That’s probably all we need to cover here. Next time we will be looking at two key techniques for content migration: data enhancement and de-duplication of the content.