7 questions to ask before you migrate content from an old intranet


7 questions to ask before you migrate content from an old intranet

Jonathan Davies


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5 mins read

Mon, Oct 28, '19  

You’ve done the brave thing. You decided it’s time for a change. That’s never an easy thing to admit.

You, or your colleagues, put a lot of work in your old Internal Comms platform, but for some reason, it just didn’t hit that bullseye. That’s ok. You’ve taken this as a learning opportunity. You’ve assessed your actual and future needs, you’ve compared several options that are in the market and now you’re reaching the point where you’re ready to look at those options in-depth, or maybe you’ve already decided on one particular vendor. Whatever the case is, inevitably you’ll face this question: What do we do with our old content?

Instinctively, a lot of companies react saying that content should be migrated to its new home. It’s an understandable reaction. But is it the best move? Before you commit to migrating old content, we’ve prepared seven questions you really need to answer. Here we go:

1. How valuable is your legacy content really?

Why do you want to move away from your current platform? The main reasons we hear are:

A. Our tool isn’t used, so it’s not updated

If the tool isn’t used, the information on the platform is likely due for a refresh. Migrating its content therefore, has limited value.

B. Our tool doesn’t bring enough value to the business

If the tool doesn’t bring enough value to the business, why would the information on it? If the tool itself is more capable, through more integrations or features, shouldn’t the information then echo those capabilities and be tailored towards them?

C. You want to approach things bottom-up as well as top-down

Sending information top-down is informing someone. It’s the equivalent of reading a press release (Intranet). Bottom-up communication is the equivalent of a conversation (Enterprise Social Network). Both have their uses, and both can be integrated together, but just one or the other will not move the bottom line of your business into action. Communications on your current platform is likely tailored to one of those approaches – if you’re switching to a platform that allows for both, communications should be tailored to that too. Think of it like this: your old car could only turn left, not right. That’s why you stuck to certain roads. Now, your new car can turn right. Why then would you still stick to those left-turn-only roads?

2. What percentage of old content is valuable?

If you’ve gone over the reasons above, it’s possible you’ve concluded that only -some- content needs migrating. Here’s the thing: how do you factually determine that this content is worthwhile? If your CEO says a particular article is important, then it’s a good reason to migrate it. But what if everything is deemed important by everyone? As Patrick Lencioni said,  “If everything is important, then nothing is.” It’s likely that you have no Analytics to back these opinions up. A (sample-sized) survey can shed light and back those opinions up, or debunk them. At least when you’re migrating, you’ll then migrate content you know is valuable.

3. Why was your critical content not in Drive? 

Not everything on your social intranet needs to be an Article, Post or Page. In fact, Pages are great ways of collecting a lot of other relevant pieces of information into one place. Think of a dedicated HR-Policy page that contains a template for leave requests, performance review feedback, diversity policies and more. All these separate pieces of critical HR information can simply be a Google Docs file, saved in Drive, embedded in a Page. That way you only have to update the document - which you don’t need to be an Admin for - to prevent anything from being stale. An added bonus is that Google Drive files are a bit more portable than Pages on your social intranet.

4. Can we declutter?

We already talked about a percentage of old content being valuable, but let’s explore this perspective in-depth. See, we’ve seen this happen before. You get an intranet. People are happy. People want to be visible. Departments want to be visible. Everyone starts wanting a page. Eventually, almost everyone gets a page. The result? Clutter. If your intranet system has more submenus than you can count, you’re not serving the end-user experience, and that will result in low adoption rates. 

Most of our customers kick off Happeo as a Minimum Viable Product (MVP). This lean method of launching prevents cluttering and ensures enough of a lean product to launch a platform that everyone will understand, but at the same time find useful. It’s the sweet spot between under,- and over-informing. Aim for that.  

5. Are we drowning in sunk costs?

If you have a moment, we recommend you read this post on the Sunk Cost Fallacy. Daniel Kahneman wrote about our brain’s natural imbalance loss and gain. Every decision you make confronts you with insecurities about the future. In order to deal with this, Kahneman says, our brain has developed a system. In this system you weigh a potential loss whenever you need to make a decision about the future. Your brain skews its perspective automagically. You probably know the system from a different context. Charles Darwin coined it centuries ago. Survival of the fittest – avoid risk to effectively procreate. Our brains have been programmed this way through millennia. Because of this, our brain skews the balance between gain and loss through pre-programmed behaviour – developed over the course of millennia. As humans, we have an aversion towards loss. This is the principal of the Sunk Cost Fallacy. The idea that, once we’ve invested in something, we must relentlessly continue our investment to make it work – even if a change of course is the better idea. 

Now you’ve gotten over the ‘loss’ of a platform that didn’t work anymore. Why else would you be looking at migrating content? Now comes the hard part. Getting over the potential loss of content. But is it really a loss if it didn’t serve anyone? 

6. Does old content still serve a new user experience?

Changing your platform can change the way you talk to your audience – your company. The content you host should tailor to the user experience across the platform. Can users comment and like on your new platform? Then invite them to discuss instead of only sending information. Can everyone hashtag content for easy reference? Then start applying consistent hashtags. Can Docs, Sheets or files in Drive be embedded? Well, you probably get the gist of it: then start embedding them. Even if you migrate content from your old platform, you will need to repurpose it to the capabilities of its new digital home. 

7. Is your business audited for continuity? 

This is the one case where migration is not avoidable. Some businesses are audited for information hosted on platforms years ago. Here, old content will need to be transferred to a new house. Usually, the bulk of it can sit in Pages marked “Archived”, hidden from the bulk of employees, but this is up to you. Sometimes, things just need to be done. In that case, did you hear about our Jive migrator?

We’ve built a tool that migrates content from an old Jive platform into Happeo. That saves you a lot of copy+paste work. 

It’s a matter of needs

At the end of the day, your new platform should address the needs of your business and its key stakeholders. After asking yourself these questions, check if content migration really is a pressing  need, or just something that seems like a logical step. Maybe the first question you ask yourself should be this:

Do you want an intranet update, or an intranet revolution?