A Checklist for Data Migration Project. Phase 1: Pre-Migration Planning

by Olga BelokurskayaMay 19, 2009

Data migration is a complicated and complex process, so it is need to identify the risks and activities well in advance. A proper planning of the process is an essential part of a data migration project.  A good structured plan may help not to overlook some points, which may prove to be crucial for the whole project, and thus lead to project delay or closure.
I’ve recently found a very good and detailed set of questions one should consider when embarking on a data migration project by Dylan Jones from Data Migration Pro Journal, and I’d like to share it.

Here are the items one should check on a pre-migration phase:

  • Have you assessed the viability of your migration with a pre-migration impact assessment?
    It is advisable in a pre-migration level to verify the cost and viability of the migration, including its terms (how long it will take), the choice of technology it will require and provisions for dangers that may lie ahead.
  • Have you based project estimates on guesswork or a more accurate assessment?
    Provide accurate analysis of cost and resource requirements so if you have tight deadlines, a complex migration and limited resources make sure you perform a migration impact assessment asap.
  • Have you made the business and IT communities aware of their involvement?
    It makes sense to inform the relevant data stakeholders and technical teams of their forthcoming commitments before the migration kicks off. There are numerous aspects of the migration that require business sign-off and commitment. Make sure everyone understands and agrees to what their involvement will be.
  • Have you formally agreed the security restrictions for your project?
    Obtain a formal agreement from the relevant security governance teams in advance. Simply putting your head in the sand and hoping you won’t get caught out is unprofessional and highly risky given the recent loss of data in many organizations.
  • Have you identified your key project resources and when they are required?
    The essence is to understand the key migration activities and dependencies then plan to have the right resources available when required.
  • Have you determined the optimal project delivery structure?
    Agile, iterative project planning with highly focused delivery drops is far more effective than a classic waterfall design, so ensure that your overall plan is flexible enough to cope with the likely change events that will occur. In addition, it’s wise to provide for delay occurrence due to contingencies.
  • Do you have a well defined set of job descriptions so each member will understand their roles?
    Have an accurate set of tasks and responsibilities for each member of the team involved in the project. Clear understanding of what your resources need to accomplish will help you be fully prepared for the project initiation phase.
  • Have you created the appropriate training documentation and designed a training plan?
    Data migration projects typically require a lot of additional tools and project support platforms to function smoothly. Ensure that all your training materials and education tools are tested and in place prior to project inception.
  • Do you have a configuration management policy and software in place?
    Data migration projects create a lot of resource materials. Profiling results, data quality issues, mapping specifications, interface specifications… Ensure that you have a well defined and tested configuration management approach in place before project inception.
  • Have you planned for a secure, collaborative working environment to be in place?
    If your project is likely to involve 3rd parties and cross-organizational support it pays to use a dedicated product for managing all the communications, materials, planning and coordination on the project.
  • Have you created an agreed set of data migration policy documents?
    There are a multitude of different policies required for a typical migration to run smoothly, it pays to agree these in advance of the migration so that the project initiation phase runs effortlessly.