How to Avoid ‘Scope Creep’ in Email Migration Projects

As noted in our data migration risk assessment, establishing clarity on the precise details of your migration project is key to success, and exact parameters must be agreed upon before you move anything.  

While this may sound like an obvious statement, years of experience have shown us large organizations – with inherently complex requirements – frequently fail to spend enough time planning, resulting in goalposts moving and additional needs creeping in.  

However, last-minute changes risk derailing your project, costing additional time and money that hasn’t been accounted for. Thus, so it’s crucial to iron out your roadmap before embarking on your journey.  

Here’s how to avoid ‘scope creep’ in the world of email migration. 

Mitigating Email Migration Risks 

In the past, we’ve been approached by customers adamant they only want to do email archives migration for live users. Yet, halfway through the project, they’ll decide they need a journal migration as well. And then they’ll realize they need to migrate leaver data, too. 

Now, all of a sudden, you’ve got additional license cost, and the extra tasks are going to prolong timelines. 

This is a classic example of ‘scope creep’; you start with one idea of doing one thing, and then people are like, ‘Oh, that’s kinda cool. Let’s do this as well,’ and it completely changes the trajectory of the whole project. 

Thus, it’s imperative to be on the same page, knowing exactly what resources you have, who will take care of what, and how.  

Managing your migration 

At Quadrotech, we offer managed Office 365 migration services, and the assumption can be our team takes control of everything. However, in reality, collaboration is essential, with roles shared between us and the customer. 

For example, in a managed migration versus non-managed migration, the frequency of managing, monitoring and reporting is key. Do you have the resources for somebody to be looking at this and manipulating it multiple times a day? 

Are you going to dedicate a resource or – depending on the size of the project – multiple resources (individuals) to spend their whole day running the project to make sure it’s going smoothly?  

Checking a migration once a day increases the potential for downtime because it could easily stop immediately after you check. Wisely monitoring holistically while performing regular smaller “status checks” to make sure it’s flowing will help ensure you meet project expectations. Anything less introduces risk.  

It can be easy for migration teams to configure everything, get it going, and then check-in once a week. However, that means if issues occur, the migration could be down for six days with no progress. 

So scoping clarity doesn’t just mean thinking about how you’re going to migrate, but understanding what you’re going to do if it falls. What resources and how much time do you have dedicated to it? What are your expectations in terms of speed and the amount of data being transferred? How frequently are you going to report the progress of the project and to whom? 

Special Considerations 

Each data migration project is unique. Let’s say you only want three years’ worth of data; the task isn’t simply ‘Migrate this archive from A to B’ but ‘Filter three years of data and then migrate it’. This is an important distinction to make and something you need to clarify from the outset. 

Is the Target environment appropriately scaled to accommodate the increased usage? If not, will this project be dependent upon the scaling of the target? What do you want to do with large archive items that won’t fit? Do you want to lose them? Do you want them in a PST? Do you want to adjust your limits and try to move them again?  

How about legal requirements? For example, due to GDPR regulations, do you require separate tenants in US and European datacenters? 

These are just a few examples, and there’s a gazillion within email migration, and a kazillion within wider business transformation projects. Scope creep is a real thing, and arguably one of the most detrimental barriers to effective project management. It’s a beast on any project, and I’m sure everyone reading this will have experienced it at some point in their career.  

Following the steps outlined in our data migration risk assessment will help you take stock, ensuring you ask the right questions before moving your data. The areas we cover are: 

  • Scoping clarity
  • Understanding the source 
  • Understanding the target 
  • Understanding the environment 
  • Collection and comprehension of constraints 
  • Ability to monitor and manage 
  • Communication

Taking time to thoroughly work through each of these risk zones will help ensure success, capturing the “Gotchas!” before they slap you in the face. Well, most of the time.

Occasionally we go through this entire process and a prospective customer will say, “I want a llama with my migration as well,” and we’ll try reasoning with them, but they’ll insist on it, and we’ll agree to contact llama distributors before proceeding with any deal. 

About the Author

Jason Jacobo

Jason is the Product Owner of Archive Shuttle, Quadrotech's industry-leading email archive migration software. He has vast experience in the data migration sector and has paved the way for organizations that need to upgrade archive content to Microsoft Office 365 in a fast, efficient and secure manner. You can connect with him on LinkedIn.

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