Migration Nation, Part 1: Thinking Ahead to a Successful Migration

The Equinox team has a few legacy-ILS-to-Evergreen migrations under its belt; it’s something we do well –and we’re getting better at it all the time. To launch this new year on a good foot, we’re publishing a six-part series on planning successful data migrations. Over the next three weeks we’ll address these topics: Thinking Ahead (this post); Six Months Out; Three Months Out; One Month Out; One Week Out; and Post-Migration. Please share your own ideas and experiences as well. This is the kind of stuff “they don’t larn you in library school,” so the more knowledge we can accrue, the better off we’ll all be. By the way, you may think this post should leap into questions about data, rebarcoding,  servers, policies, and so forth. You’ll notice this post is farther down Maslow’s hierarchy and focuses on some very basic human resource issues that trump other questions. Finally, many of the questions are the same whether you are hosting your own servers or using a hosted service, joining a consortium or migrating as a “standalone” library. But we’ll note the questions unique to those experiences. Thinking Ahead to a Successful Migration The first task is to identify the factors influencing your migration date. Pick a tentative date  for your migration as the endpoint of your timeline, then work backwards by answering these six questions: 1. Who needs to be available at different points of the timeline for training, database maintenance, policy decisions, public relations, and “boots on the ground” during the final weeks of the actual migration and the immediate aftermath? Will you need to create (or even hire) key positions such as project manager, training coordinator, or a primary IT person? 2. Will you will continue running your legacy system concurrently with your new system? This could reduce the data that needs to be migrated, but, depending on your timing and the expiration date on your legacy system’s contract, may create another contract renewal your library needs to fund. If you will continue running your old system, how long? A month? Three to six months? Longer? 3. Will you stay open during migration, or close the library? (Deciding to close for several days makes a long weekend or a slow period a good bet.) 4. Do you need a help desk? Depending on your environment, your library may need to create a help desk for fielding support questions. How will you staff the help desk? If you don’t have a help desk, how will you communicate with your support service? 5. What materials do you need on hand during the switch-over? Think down to the most basic levels. If you will be circulating by hand for several days, then make sure you have plenty of “circ sheets” (and pens!) or some other method for tracking your circulations and registrations. 6. What’s your contingency plan in case health, weather, or other emergencies take key people out of action during crucial periods? Remember… not having a contingency plan is the best way to invoke Murphy’s Law! Stay tuned for next Tuesday’s post in this series, Migration Nation: Six Months Out.