Over the past 5 years, nearly every Community IT infrastructure project has included some cloud document management component. As we have helped clients plan and migrate their platform for managing documents to the cloud, several trends have started to emerge.
In this new series of posts we’re going to cover different aspects of a migration project and how to be successful. As you think more seriously about migrating to a cloud based document management solution please consider our tested and proven methodology:
- Outline your requirements to build your business case – tips found in this post
- Define your project scope using research and due diligence
- Set expectations and educate users and management early with regards to what the system can and can’t do, and the extended time and investment of time required
- Focus on usability, usability, and usability
- Engage senior management as champions
- Expect your implementation to take time, and plan accordingly. This is a major investment you are undertaking, and needs planning and attention to succeed.
- Checklist of questions to ask your IT provider before migration
Outline Your Requirements
There is a myth that the many benefits of a cloud solution will, by fiat, solve most of an organization’s IT problems. To ensure the success of a cloud information system project you need to start by clearly defining the business case for this specific project. Nonprofit organizations are often well suited to analyzing their own business case – when they apply the same scrutiny and diligence that they would to designing a program or applying for a grant.
What set of problems do you want to solve?
This first step is to get a clear understanding about the business context for this project in your organization. This will enable you to develop a list of business requirements. Some good questions to answer as part of this exercise are:
- What documents do users need to do their daily jobs? What daily processes (such as volunteer management, client intake, editing, or marketing) require users to access shared documents?
- What are some of the challenges users are facing with current system?
- What types of documents are stored in your current system?
- Who needs access to which documents? Does your organization have documents that need specific security or restricted access, such as HR, SSNs, or HIPAA?
- What are the most important document use cases at your organization?
- Are there any business processes that can be simplified?
It is also important to understand and inventory your content. What files does your organization generate? Draw up an outline of the content types in your organization. At Community IT we use a variety of techniques to better understand content:
- Perform a content inventory. We currently recommend Treesize Pro from Jam Software, and there are other tools. For migration to Sharepoint specifically, you can try the many tools on the market such as Sharegate or Avepoint
- Focus on recently modified files.
- Separate documents from images and databases. If your content contains a large amount of image files you might want to look for a digital asset management system (DAM). There is a basic set of features within Office 365 – SP Online that helps with the storing of media, but if more sophisticated features are needed, go with a full DAM system.
- Interview stakeholders on how content is being used, found, and accessed.
- Shadow stakeholders for a few hours and observe/discuss the content they use and need access to.
Understanding the key technical and functional requirements of the new system is also an important part of the process. The following questions can help to identify critical requirements.
- Are you trying to replace a file server that has reached end of life?
- Do you need a new file sharing solution to meet new compliance needs?
- Do you need an easier way to remotely access data while outside the office?
- Do you need a system that makes it easy to share data with external partners, field offices, or remote users?
- Do you need larger mailboxes?
- What systems currently integrate with your document files? Perhaps more important, which systems will need to integrate with the new system?
Keep in mind any integration needs that might come up as part of this transition. Except in rare circumstances, it is unlikely you will be replacing all your systems at once. You will need to build integration capacity into your requirements between any systems you keep, that need to interact with your new document storage. Some common examples of this are Salesforce or Docusign.
You will also need to pay attention to compliance requirements. For instance, if your organization’s work involves healthcare you might be required to keep certain files for more than 5-7 years. Developing these requirements will help you narrow down your choices between different solutions.
If you’ve missed any of our past webinars or posts on cloud document storage platforms or planning, you can find more resources here.
In the next post we’ll describe how to define your scope, and set realistic expectations among your staff and champions at your organization.
You can download a pdf (1.2MB) or share this entire series online here.