One of the most important roles that often goes unassigned, or is folded under the project manager role, is the end-user support and communications resource. There is so much involved in the related tasks for this role that we highly recommend a dedicated person be assigned. The most common overlooked considerations, that are critical to the success of the project, are all related to change management for the end-users. These include a comprehensive communication plan for the user community, a detailed task outline for training and desktop refresh, and the all-inclusive support model for pre- and post-migration activities. Be sure to crystalize the focus of this role to ensure the continuity of user productivity during the migration project.
Set Realistic Project Timeline and Milestones
The next critical discussion item during the workshop is around the realistic timeline and milestones for the project. Many times a project team is driven to complete the project so quickly in order to retire the legacy infrastructure, that they perform a mass-migration and completely disregard the negative repercussions this has on the business users. All facets of the migration project, from technical to business-related, must be factored into the decision for the overall timeline of the project. Successful mail migration projects are ones that sharply limit the impact to the end-users. If you get that wrong, it won’t matter that you correctly transitioned all messages and calendar items intact. A negative impact to user productivity will be the scorecard rating that the project sponsor and CIO will key on. So be sure to take a balanced approach to the migration phases and agree on a feasible strategy to transition the user community and their data in a timely manner that can be supported by your helpdesk and corresponding change management tasks.
Address the Top 3 Overlooked Critical Success Factors
Finally, let me close with a few project items that are most often incorrectly downgraded in importance. These are some things that can come back and bite you if they are not addressed early on in the planning and testing for the project.
Overlooked Item #1: Not properly translating content into a format supported by the target platform
If you are transitioning from a different email platform such as Lotus Notes or GroupWise, you will need to take special care when testing the migration processing for all content items. Especially troublesome are recurring meetings and secondary content such as journals, contacts, and tasks. To ensure proper content translation, be sure to include testing with realistic mailbox data, not programmatically created messages. Real end-users have mailboxes that contain messages with attachments and rich text, plus calendar items, tasks, contacts, hierarchical folders and distribution lists. Migrating these items correctly is very different than migrating thousands of small emails generated by an automated script.
Overlooked Item #2: Not establishing the coexistence functionality needed to support end-user interoperability during the migration
Most organizations cannot migrate all users over a single weekend. Because of this, there will be a period of coexistence when some users have been transitioned to the new platform while others remain on the legacy systems. Maintaining the continuity of communications and workflow between these groups is where a coexistence strategy comes into place. Allowing users to perform free/busy lookups when scheduling a meeting, reserve conference rooms, reschedule existing meetings, and simply find users in the directory are all parts of messaging coexistence. For the success of your project, be sure to identify all requirements for business continuity and build the appropriate coexistence environment to meet your needs.
Overlooked Item #3: Not understanding where content should migrated to, and if it should migrated at all
Just because you’re moving to a new messaging platform that supports all your current capabilities and can scale to hold all your existing data items, it doesn’t necessarily mean you should move everything to the same storage model. There are many options available now for more cost effective archiving and data management than were possible on your legacy platform. And a perfect time to review your future strategy for email archiving, data retention, eDiscovery, search and compliance is while you are planning your migration.