No one ever said that migrating a new platform was easy. In fact, the road to a successful platform migration is difficult and long—for some, a little too long. But in the words of the visionary modernist T.S. Eliot, “Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.” Though it will be tough, it will be worth it.
Migrating, or upgrading, your software solution often comes with great rewards in the form of new features, better functionality, delightful user experience, and additional tools and support. The benefit is there, but so is the risk. Organizations moving their data from one storage type to another face challenges including periods of downtime that can disrupt daily user activity and add strain on IT departments.Transferring massive amounts of data is a risk for any enterprise environment since any interruptions or issues with data storage compatibility can expose sensitive data.
Smart teams prepare and plan accordingly. The first item on your list is developing a migration plan that describes the overall scope, approach, assumptions, strategies, realistic timelines, and processes that will be used.
Let’s take a look at what this plan should include. Below are some of the best practices that, when followed closely, will result in a smooth, painless migration.
Strategic workforce planning
Great teams within a software testing company don’t just occur naturally—they are planned, developed, and cultivated. Strategic workforce planning is a term that encompasses attracting, recruiting, managing, retaining, and re-deploying talent to ensure that the team is effective according to current and future business priorities.
Sound complex? Not quite. Here’s a breakdown:
Diagnose and respond to any gaps in IT QA development
- Assess existing staff for skills, training, and interest
- Measure skills that need to be externalized, and when the skillset is needed
- Weigh the time to train a new hire versus the need for their skillset
- Assess risk of entering market without the required skillsets
- Determine how much non-functional or functional testing is required
- Align with teams on process development—which approaches make the most sense?
- Retain key team members who know the legacy platform well—they will come in handy
- Analyze what works well and what needs improvement
Skills gap closure
- Train existing staff on new or expanded skills
- Hire new staff with needed skills
- Contract contingent labor with needed skills
- Outsource with a partner
Things to keep in mind when closing skills gaps:
- Availability of skilled resources, such as domain experts
- Flexibility of skills, schedules and team size—can they ramp up and down quickly as priorities shift?
- Scalability to meet project needs
- Ability to control costs—do they meet your budgetary needs?
QA process evolution
Before you migrate, it’s best to take a close look at the processes that you have in place and decide how they’ll need to change. A key question to ask yourself is this: what is the focus and goal of our current QA process, and what will it be in the future? Determine where the shift in process will occur in these areas:
- IT solution composition
- Project duration
- Testing lifecycle
- Integration, performance, security, data migration, and automated testing
- Maintaining legacy applications
- Analysis and maintenance of the existing test suites
- HIPAA compliance procedures
- Data profiling and governance
Tools required during migration
This is one of the most important steps during migration! Ensure that you closely analyze all of the tools that you use for your QA process, as some may not be compatible with your new platform. Don’t just stop at the ones used for data migration and integration, but also for test suite management, capturing business requirements, bug reporting, planning progress analysis, reporting, and more.
Remember to communicate
A smooth migration is not possible unless everyone is well aware of what’s happening. Open communication between teams is key here. Ensure that all stakeholders, technical teams, and other organizations within the business understand why you’re migrating and how it will impact them directly. Also, it’s helpful to give teams throughout the business a voice in this process — this provides valuable insight about how they interact with the platform and transparency throughout the migration.
Always remember the customer
It’s never a good idea to embark on a sweeping platform migration without getting customers involved. To start, you’ll want to create some content around the benefits of the migration. Let the customer know how this move benefits them in ways that are clear and compelling. How will it improve their experience of the product? Some customers care about features, but all of them care about benefit.
Be specific about the end-of-date of the old platform and address any concerns directly. Provide training on the new platform if necessary, or train your customer support team to field inbound requests. Also, remember that a small number of users can generate a large source of your revenue—try reaching out to them directly and ask for their feedback on your plan of action.
In closing, your platform migration will add great value to your organization. But the preparation that you do prior to the migration is what really counts—it’s the work that will carry you through to success.