6 major pitfalls to avoid in your content migration

Part II/II

Thumbnail | Blogpost | 6 major pitfalls to avoid in your content migration - Part 2
Heroshot | Front top | No shadow

Thomas Berger
Project Leader @ fme AG

December 4, 2023

As we discussed in our first episode of this blogpost series, content migrations have a reputation for being a complicated task. Let’s talk about another three very common challenges we’ve encountered over the past 20 years in a wide variety of migration projects involving different requirements, data complexities, industries, and customers.

Common pitfalls with content migrations – problems 4-6

4.) Poor meta data mapping

Again, meta data. This time we are mainly referring to the attribute mapping from the source to the target system. This seems simple at first, because how difficult should it be to map one attribute to another, for example: “object_name” to “name”. But a closer look reveals that it can be tricky: System limitations of the corresponding platforms can already make it complex. But a variety of business-related requirements can also be the salt in the soup.

To overcome this, mapping must be planned very well from the start to avoid time-consuming change requests and hiccups during migration. Not only the data quality or the result is important, but also the outlook in the new system. Business processes need to be already tailored to the new system and possible special cases (missing data, different mapping requirements and system constraints) must be declared so that the transformation and mapping rules can be manifested in the migration strategy.

Illustration | 17

Data mapping steps to consider.

We talked to our migration specialists about their experiences with data mapping requirements and system limitations. Here are insights they shared with us:

  • Classifying legacy data can be a huge task. Remember, when eating an elephant take one bite at a time.

  • Even with the most sophisticated migration software, there may be exceptional use cases where the product does not provide all the functionality needed to migrate specific data from point A to point B. Certain scenarios may require writing custom code and/or scripts to achieve the desired results.

5.) Undervaluing IT, data privacy, and security

This pitfall is about securities and misunderstandings or miscommunication between the relevant business units. This is perhaps the most unpredictable pitfall of all, but usually only occurs in large enterprises. Stakeholders for data privacy, security, or other related topics are often not well informed and react late in the data migration process which may lead to a disruption of the entire project.

Obviously, it’s best if all possible stakeholders are involved in a migration project from the beginning. Of course, this costs time and money, but it pays off in the end. The simple key is to think of them when a migration project is coming up.

Our experts reveal:

  • A common pitfall is the underestimated and increasing pressure of IT security and privacy due to growing regulation and hacker attacks.

  • We noticed a disconnect between IT, document control, and end users. Often IT thinks they are doing what the document controllers or users want, but when asked, the gap is often much wider than expected.

6.) Improper time planning

A migration project often tends to take longer than planned. Different steps in the project might end up exceeding the scheduled timeline and this can lead to frustration. Sometimes there is nothing you can do about it…

In every project, time planning is important. However, in migration projects, time planning is crucial. That’s because, as mentioned earlier, migrations affect many, if not all, employees in different ways. To be as accurate as possible, it’s best to have a good understanding of the company structure, processes, and communication channels. Unexpectedly, it is not the technical process of moving documents, but rather the overall coordination around the migration project that takes a lot of time and requires proper scheduling and realistic deadlines.

Illustration | 18

Don’t underestimate the importance of a realistic road map and consider ongoing coordination efforts.

The advice of our experts:

  • Beware, migration projects always take longer than management thinks.

  • Decide early: Do you plan to migrate in delta steps or with a “big bang” switch from the old to the new system?

  • If you have multiple sources and destinations, prioritize what needs to get done first. Ask yourself where you can make the biggest gains with the least effort.

  • Many times, it is up to the customer to build and support an environment for the migration to take place. From our perspective, we must rely on these environments to be stable and any issues that arise to be resolved quickly, which is not always the case. And we may not have sufficient access to the environment to help troubleshoot, even though we have the necessary expertise.


Although every content migration project is unique, we hope that our lessons learned will help you avoid some common pitfalls and achieve a secure transfer of your data assets. No matter what challenges you might face, you should view your migration not only as a necessary and highly complex project, but also as a modernization opportunity that will help you improve your (meta)data quality and corporate application efficiency.

Still overwhelmed by your upcoming project?

No need to panic! Our migration team and our migration-center combine over 100 years of migration experience from the most diverse and demanding projects and will also have advice for your individual migration challenge. Just contact us!