Businesses often grapple with cluttered IT landscapes, with separate archives for accounting and HR, multiple file directories, and varying workflow applications dispersed across different domains.
This may sound chaotic because, well, it often is! These structures create increasing development and maintenance costs, introduce uncertainties during updates, and make it arduous to manage information and business processes. Simplifying these landscapes via Document Management System (DMS) migration is therefore a strategic objective for many enterprises.
The Need for Consolidation
Despite the seemingly operational chaos, it’s essential to understand why organizations value system and information consolidation. Large corporations could be juggling 10, 20, or even hundreds of systems. These arrangements usually occur in companies with multiple subsidiaries or those in a post-merger phase.
A disorganized IT landscape not only increases maintenance and personnel costs but also detracts from innovation by reducing the budget margin. Over time, outdated DMS and workflow solutions fail to meet the requirements of contemporary information management systems. This failure becomes particularly glaring as the number of managed documents, business processes, and users grow.
Consequences of Heterogeneous IT Landscapes
Disorganized IT landscapes have their unique challenges. Redundant data storage and complex filing structures result in significant time loss. It becomes challenging to provide fast, intelligent information and process management due to numerous system boundaries and ensuing automation difficulties. Consequently, the company’s potential to innovate and its technological prowess suffer. Also, the risks of non-compliance, such as data protection violations, increase due to incorrectly stored or unidentifiable information.
Breaking Free from The ‘Never Change a Running System’ Motto
While the ‘never change a running system’ motto might seem comforting, it fails to account for the internal crumbling of the system. The need to act only becomes apparent when support for legacy systems expires, business operations grind to a halt, or when compliance sanctions become a reality. The trepidation about migration often revolves around the potential for data loss, compliance gaps, and operational disruption. However, with a well-structured migration plan, these concerns can be mitigated.
The Four-Step Plan to DMS Migration
Taking the leap from an existing system to a new one doesn’t have to be a daunting process. Here’s a step-by-step guide to migrating your DMS smoothly:
Step 1 – Transfer Metadata
The migration journey starts with transferring only the metadata for the documents. The bulk of the data remains in its original location, allowing legacy systems to begin shutting down gradually, hence eliminating costs for maintenance and operation.
Step 2 – Access Legacy Systems
During the transition, users can access pools in the legacy system as well as documents already stored in the new DMS using the migrated metadata. This seamless transition means automated processes and assessments using AI continue to run without interruptions.
Step 3 – File New Documents in the New DMS
During the migration phase, users can store new or incoming documents directly in the new DMS. This step allows users to proactively use the new system for their daily work.
Step 4 – Full Migration Without Downtime
Finally, the documents from the old system are gradually moved to the new DMS in the background, without any loss of performance. This process ensures there is no downtime, maintaining uninterrupted business operations.
Ensuring a Future-Proof Information Management System
While consolidation of documents and data is one side of the coin, the new system also needs to ensure consistent and intelligent management of all information and processes in the future. The system should not repeat the same mistakes as legacy systems or encourage workarounds. To achieve this:
- The new DMS should be scalable, accommodating the company’s growth and its evolving functional and technical requirements.
- The system should allow employees to access and share information quickly from anywhere at any time, eliminating the need for duplicates or excessive emails.
- Incorporating standard interfaces and open APIs can prevent the development of new information silos, enabling consistent compliance management.
- Cognitive services integrated into the DMS platform can provide intelligent information and process management across the enterprise.
Migrating to a new DMS is an initiative deserving a healthy dose of respect. However, the advantages of consolidation outweigh the risks associated with legacy systems. With a systematic approach, proven procedures, and the right technology, migrations can be predictable and secure. It’s time to clean up your company’s information management system and prepare for the future!