Wouldn’t it be nice if every process in life had a clearly-defined checklist? If there were boxes to check for raising a toddler, putting in your two weeks' notice at work, or discussing an issue with a friend? A checklist that guaranteed that things would go well? Unfortunately, checklists for these things, and many others, will likely never exist.
Fortunately, useful checklists are easier to find and utilize when it comes to business, technology, and operations, where emotions and relationships aren’t at stake. With that in mind, the Stacks team has created a checklist for our proven process for one of the biggest headaches that many organizations are facing or will face in the future: large-scale file migrations of their digital assets.
Stacks’ Proven Process for Successful Large-Scale File Migrations
First and foremost, what is a large-scale file migration? In the simplest terms, it means moving your existing digital assets, along with their organizational structure, data, workflows, and the people managing them, from one storage device to another.
This can mean moving assets from a cloud-based file storage system like Dropbox to a dedicated digital asset management (DAM) platform or going from one of these complex systems to another one. No matter the situation, every migration requires significant scoping to ensure you don’t bite off more than you can chew and overwhelm your team.
Before starting this process, it’s important to determine why you're considering moving to a new DAM system. With that end in mind, work with your core stakeholders to build an understanding of what you want to do, at what times, and in what ways. This allows you to flesh out issues and raise red flags before the project begins rather than while it’s underway.
- Determine library size and asset count
- Audit assets, metadata, and existing workflows
- Prioritize assets
- Identify options for asset enrichment and ingestion into new platform
- Determine team, tools, and resources needed
- Understand user needs post-migration
Once the project is properly scoped, the plan can be developed, from the high-level, big-picture decisions to the in-the-weeds minutiae that often prove more important. The foremost thing to keep in mind at this stage is how the project will impact the day-to-day operations of your organization and thus the end-users of your existing DAM system.
As you create your project plan, keep managers and employees in the loop and ensure they can easily raise issues and identify risks.
- Create a budget and timeline
- Develop a project plan
- Determine ideal new DAM system launch date
- Develop end-user onboarding plan
- Establish retirement plan for old system
- Create temporary asset workflow during migration period
- Establish transition period (we recommend 2-6 months of overlap between old and new systems)
Think of when you host a party at your house. First, you make the guest list, select a date, and decide what you’ll serve. Next, you begin preparing for the party. You clean the house, go to the grocery store, and send out invitations. Doing these things ensures that when the day of the party arrives, you aren’t overwhelmed and your guests have the experience you want them to have.
The same is true for digital asset file migrations. In order to not overwhelm yourself and your team, you’ll need to do some prep work. The most important part of that preparation is establishing your DAM standards. These standards include metadata taxonomy, file naming conventions, and folder structures, among many other things. If theseare not well thought out and documented before migration begins, delays will occur and the end-user experience will fall short of expectations.
- Document all current standards (folder structure, user groups, permissions, metadata requirements)
- Create and test migration workflow
- Download all assets
- Download all metadata
- Create metadata mapping CSV
- Test asset and metadata upload
Now, the party begins. You’ve done all the work necessary to ensure that your file migration runs as smoothly as possible, keeping in mind that nothing ever fully goes to plan. All that’s left to do is implement your project plan and DAM standards.
While proper preparation and scoping help this process run as efficiently as possible, migrating assets can still be time-consuming, especially when you’re adding metadata to them that wasn’t there before. Consider who will be doing this work and if your team can execute it well and in a timely manner given their other responsibilities. If not, consider working with a consulting firm in the DAM space like Stacks.
- Upload assets to new platform
- Upload and map existing metadata to new platform
With a project as large and comprehensive as a file migration, quality assurance is key to sustained success. There are a lot of moving parts and pieces of technology (not to mention humans) that need to communicate with each other. If not managed well, this can lead to things slipping through the cracks which can damage user experience in the future.
Be diligent in quality controlling and auditing as many of your freshly-uploaded assets as possible once they're in your new system. Be sure to pressure test your newly-created standards, workflows, and processes, as well as each new piece of technology to make sure it will stand the test of time.
- Quality control asset download
- Quality control asset upload
- Quality control mapped metadata
Once you’re assured that everything is working as it should be, it’s time to roll the new system out to your end-users. Start with a select group of power users that can learn the system quickly and then do some of the troubleshooting and training for you with the next level of users.
From there, take a breath. Pat yourself on the back for a job well done. Then, look to the future. What’s next in DAM? Where do you want your system to be this time next year? How can it continue to provide a return on investment?
- Onboard and train power users
- Onboard and train users by permission level
- Develop post-migration roadmap
If you’re thinking of undertaking a large-scale digital asset file migration project and need help at any of these stages, contact Stacks! We work with brands across many industries and are independent of the technology they use to ensure success on projects like these and many others.