One of the most painful tasks I have to accomplish is “Data Migration.” It can also be disguised as “Content Migration,” “Content Import,” “That thing you were supposed to do without us having to ask or specify anything,” or “Magical Maraca 1-0 Dance.”
Whenever I see it written on any document inbound or outbound it is an immediate red flag. It’s not something to be taken lightly on older sites and certainly doesn’t deserve its typical decorum of being a single bulleted item amidst a larger list of topics such as “Banner Images,” “Rotating Background,” or “Embedded Twitter Post.”
To complete one properly all details of the data structure on both sides need to be mapped, data has to be pulled from the old site, an intermediary state (csv / xml) needs to be defined, data cleanup and processing have to occur to fit, data has to be piped into the new site, and all of that has to be done a few times to ensure nothing is lost. BUT, in the event that it slips by unaddressed on a spec or was mentioned on a call that nobody took notes on, the following equally as enjoyable scenario can play out.
It will begin innocuously, the client will ask to update a few things during an approval and then towards the end ask about when all the old data will be imported. As if there is a switch that we forgot to flip that will pull everything from a custom database and an experimental CMS into a modern WordPress or Drupal site.
Surely it was just missed, the client will reinforce how important those old articles from 2005 are, people are lining up to get through the internet just to view them. We do the whole spiel on extending the timeline, additional quotes if it needs to be done, and try to explain the hassle involved or push them to pass it on to their team. Both parties are now discreetly aware of how wrong the other party is.
Much like in The Fray’s How to Save a Life, they will do one of two things, they will admit to handling everything, or they’ll say it’s just not the same, and you’ll begin to wonder why-ich Salesman to blame.
Out of options and with the project at a halt your company now must decide whether or not this bridge can burn. So you deliver, because clients. But that timeline is non-negotiable though, we need to get other things done too, just saying.