Cloud Migration

How to successfully run a migration

Tech-based businesses benefit from well-executed platform migrations. Learn how to run a successful migration and ensure operational efficiency.

February 16, 2023

An organization can choose to migrate to a different development or testing platform for a variety of reasons. Sometimes, it makes more financial sense for a business to partner with certain digital service providers and migrate to their platforms. In other cases, the development team might choose to switch tools to adopt a standard, streamlined development process where every available resource is utilized more efficiently. When executed well, platform migrations can greatly benefit tech-based businesses. 

However, it isn’t always easy to run a successful migration. Every migration process is made up of several key processes, like data migration and developer onboarding. Special effort should be taken to ensure that these processes are executed transparently and efficiently. In this article, we discuss a few tips that can help businesses and development teams run successful migrations. 

Why do businesses choose to migrate to a different platform?

A business might choose to run a migration process for several different reasons. One of the most common reasons for businesses choosing to migrate to a new operational or development platform is to cut costs. A great example of this is migrating to cloud-based storage and processing platforms which allows businesses to avoid the cost of storing and maintaining data on physical servers. It also allows the business to save what it usually spends on firewalls, anti-virus software, and other security solutions for its physical servers. Another common reason for migrating to a different digital platform is to allow for smoother collaboration between employees and to make company data more accessible throughout the organization. For instance, data stored on cloud servers can be accessed by any authorized employee, no matter where they are. All they’ll need is the cloud account’s login and a stable internet connection. These employees can then efficiently collaborate with other team members without being physically present at the office. 

Some businesses might even choose to migrate to a new platform to simply automate organizational tasks. Let’s say a business has been manually maintaining the digital records of all of its employees on its physical or cloud servers. Such a business can migrate to a CRM that collects and organizes data for it. This would help the business operate more efficiently - without wasting time and other resources on menial clerical tasks. Better company-wide communication and organization are just a few of the several benefits of migrating to an automated digital platform. 

Tips for running a successful migration 

Successful migration processes require you to plan well in advance and develop a strategy to help your team migrate without disrupting their workflow. Here are a few tips to help you plan and execute your migration processes better. 

Emphasize leadership buy-in 

Migration of any kind, especially a comprehensive data migration, can take several months at the very least. This is because migrating to a new tech stack is a complicated process that is carried out in several different stages. One of the key problems that businesses face while running migration processes is that they tend to become passive after a certain point in time. Given their long duration, teams often stop investing as much time and effort into migration processes after a few months. This can cause the entire process to slow down, become inefficient, and in the worst cases, become very likely to fail. A clear leadership buy-in is needed to ensure that all migration processes are efficiently seen through to the end without any discrepancies. 

The business's top executives and project leaders should emphasize the importance of the ongoing migration and how the company benefits from it. They should also mention how migrating to a new platform can make everyone’s job easier across the company. Frequent leadership buy-ins help migration teams remain motivated and avoid losing focus. An effective leader buy-in is always centered around a clear vision for the migration process. Top executives should be clear about why they want teams to migrate to a new platform and what they expect from the migration process. You can further make the buy-in more engaging by inviting employee feedback and actively incorporating suggestions into the migration workflow. The goal here should be to work with your employees to come up with strategies that are backed by the company’s highest-ranking executives. 

Come up with an assessment-based strategy 

Migration processes need to be planned thoroughly to ensure minimal hiccups and overall efficient utilization of all available resources. This requires teams to develop solid, assessment-based strategies that can help them navigate their respective migrations well. The first step for each team would be to establish a current baseline at which they’re operating. This could mean simply listing down all the tools that need to be left behind, the new tools that are expected to take their place, and how the migration is expected to affect the existing workflow of the team. It can also entail doing in-depth research to determine the time and effort (in terms of average work hours per day) that it would take a team to migrate successfully to each new tool. 

Each individual migration can be broken down into different steps, like data migration and developer onboarding. Determining the time, effort, and other resources required to execute a migration allows teams to pre-empt the net investment behind each step and aptly report it to senior executives. The teams can then sit down with these executives to come up with strategies that can help them minimize investment risks related to the migration and use every available resource sensibly. Clear, assessment-backed strategies allow teams to develop a solid blueprint that they can refer to in case they face any problems during the migration. The primary purpose of this step is to help project leaders and managers gain complete visibility into the migration process and give them the ability to make sound, data-backed decisions. 

The assumption being made here, of course, is that the business in question would choose a distributed migration approach instead of a centralized migration, which can be a more complicated process. In a tool-based migration approach, several small teams are set up to oversee the migration of different tools, like updating a certain package to a newer version or adopting a new deployment pipeline. Each of these teams can then be monitored by more central teams that manage the migration of large chunks of tools and services related to a particular section of the business, for example, customer relationship management or data analytics. This model of migration is usually preferred over a centralized migration due to the agility and flexibility it adds to the overall process. A distributed migration strategy allows teams to work at their own pace and migrate according to what they deem to be the best approach. It also allows executives to gain much greater visibility into the migration process due to the extensive documentation carried out by teams at each sub-level. 

Set up clear instructions for the migration 

Migrating to a new operating or development environment will more than likely be overwhelming for your teams. The absence of clear migration instructions can lead to frequent problems and bottlenecks within the migration process, thereby rendering it inefficient. Setting up migration resources like how-to guides, FAQs, and white papers can help solve this problem. Reference resources allow teams to understand their problems and solve them independently without waiting for vendor tech support. This allows them to function independently and complete the migration process much quicker. What resources you set up to assist teams with their migration efforts completely depends on the teams and the kind of migration they’re undertaking. 

If a team is handling the task of migrating from an old API to a newer, more efficient one, they should be allowed access to the developer portals for both of these APIs. They should also be aware of any supplementary information (including how-to instructions) provided by the vendors selling the new API. Having ready access to all of these resources will allow the team to fully understand the context and scope of the migration and proceed accordingly. The documentation set up during previous migration efforts is also helpful here. It can allow teams to learn about the strategies used during similar migrations in the past and examine their effectiveness. In fact, future reference is one of the key reasons why it is important to properly maintain every step of a documentation process. 

Another thing to keep in mind here is that teams often have very specific questions about an aspect of the migration that reference material can’t help them with. In such cases, it is important to ensure that these teams have access to a migration expert who can answer their questions and closely monitor the entire migration process. This expert can either be an employee who has headed similar migrations in the past or a support executive appointment by the new vendor you’re partnering with. The primary purpose of having on-call help during migrations is to let teams avoid wasting time waiting for support and maintain a steady and efficient workflow. 

Actively track the migration 

The sheer scale and expanse of the average migration project make it prone to several bottlenecks and discrepancies. If these issues aren’t solved in time, they can turn into bigger problems that severely affect your team’s ability to carry out migration processes effectively. Team leaders and key executives need to actively track all migration processes to avoid this. They can either use quantitative metrics like turnaround time or a qualitative performance measure that allows them to judge how aligned a migration process is with its pre-decided objective. 

Actively tracking a migration effort at the organization-wide and team levels helps decision-makers gain a better perspective on the performance of each team and how it affects the overall migration process. They can then use this information to make important decisions about the allotment of resources to each team. 

Let’s explore this concept further with the help of an example. Suppose a company decides to migrate 100 of its services to a new environment. The responsibility of migrating these services has been allotted to 20 different teams, all of which are free to formulate and employ their own strategies to achieve this. Nearly 15 of them seem to be taking more time than expected, which has become a cause for concern for the senior management. If all 15 of these services are being managed by different teams, this points towards a technical error in the process. Your teams might need to switch to better, more competent migration tools in such cases. However, if all 15 of these services are concentrated within a few teams, you might need to divert more resources (including more engineers) towards them to get them back on track. 

An important thing to consider here is that it is practically impossible to effectively track every team working on a company-wide migration effort. However, businesses can use automated reporting tools to overcome this problem. Automated progress reporting:

  • Makes it easier for key executives and decision-makers to track the migration process. 
  • Allows teams to focus on migration processes instead of carrying out clerical documentation tasks. 
  • Makes it easier for teams to extract and analyze migration data to produce comprehensive performance reports. 

Automated reporting also helps teams report to key decision-makers more regularly. Gaining this enhanced, constant visibility into migration processes helps executives ensure that migration efforts don’t dampen with time. 

How you can use automated notifications and ticketing to drive migration processes 

Automated notification and ticketing tools allow team leaders to check on migration teams and ensure operational efficiency. Since migration processes often tend to become less efficient after a point of time owing to irregular reporting and buy-in practices. Notifications help teams automate all of these processes simply and effectively. Easy ticketing can further help teams effectively document their issues and notify other teams and key executives about them without switching platforms. When used well, notification and ticketing tools can help teams make their migration processes more transparent and easier to track and document. 

At Cortex, we create state-of-the-art engineering efficiency enhancement and operational visibility solutions. Our tools help teams ensure completely secure migrations and automate several key aspects of the process like progress reporting, production readiness, and service ownership. Features like instant reporting and complete visibility into the migration processes further help these teams streamline their workflows and reduce migration time considerably. Cortex's solutions help engineering teams adopt the best industry practices and create a culture of efficiency and reliability. 

Visit us to learn more about our services and how they can help your development teams work more efficiently than ever before.

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