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How to Create a (Smart) Software Migration Plan
“Any change, even a change for the better, is always accompanied by discomforts.” - Arnold Bennett
Switching to more advanced (or better fitting) software can be a critical decision for a business. Potential benefits include everything from improved cybersecurity, to management, sales, and overall efficiency. The problem is, when a software migration plan isn’t implemented correctly, it can create more problems than it solves. So, the question is, how should you get from point A to point B?
Here are some things you should consider before, during, and after making the transition to new software.
Protect Your Data
Your number one priority should be minimizing data loss and migration errors. Even with an experienced team of professionals, expect the unexpected! If transferring everything in one shot isn’t realistic, determine what information needs to be transferred first so your business is able to maintain continuity during the transition. Let the less essential data wait in the batter's box until you’re ready for it.
Judge Pro Tip: Anticipate how the new software will affect the current way your data is organized and make a plan to work around any inconsistencies.
Visualize (and Formalize) a Software Migration Strategy
Once you determine which software you’ll use, it’s time to map out the transition! Depending on the task at hand, there might be a lot to consider: your budget range, your timeline, staff onboarding, training, and more. Don’t forget to leave space for unforeseen errors, even if you did a good job of anticipating challenges in advance.
A well-oiled team is your best bet for avoiding problems, so delegate roles and set milestones to motivate. A carefully designed plan will help you determine a target date and avoid putting undue strain on your staff and budget.
We can’t stress the importance of proper training enough. Training sets the foundation for future success, so be patient during this phase. Keep in mind that some of your staff might have used your current software for years, or even decades! They may be anxious about how the upcoming changes will affect their productivity. Try easing the stress by training staff in phases. This way, team members will slowly build knowledge through multiple sessions, rather than feeling overwhelmed once the software is introduced.
Judge Pro Tip: Create a cheat sheet (or tutorial video), exploring the new software’s key functions (for example, logging in, pulling reports, assorting data). Allow staff to refer to this whenever they get stuck.
Communication is Key
Don’t shortchange communication, even if it feels overboard. Keep your employees up to date and communicate with your internal and external points of contact. Your software migration plan has a much better chance of succeeding if you detail your expectations, training, and deadlines clearly.
Consider an Implementation Partner
Depending on the software you’re transitioning to, the vendor might already be providing a training or implementation consultant. However, if it’s a large shift and your internal support is lacking, hiring an outside implementation partner can be a smart decision. It might even be something to think about when negotiating a price with the vendor provider.
Conclusion: How to Create a (Smart) Software Migration Plan
Expect some difficulties along the way! If changes were easy, we’d adapt all the time. Though the shift will take time to fully realize, don’t rush the process or you may need to contend with costly consequences. Instead, put your energy into planning and communicating your software migration strategy. Your company and your employees will thank you for it!
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