Best practices and advice that focus on the implementation of a content management system are numerous -- much of this body of knowledge is focused on tool selection and the technical implementation. What is often overlooked -- or at least under appreciated -- is the work that needs to go in to migrating content from legacy sources, into the new system. Whether you are migrating content from an existing CMS, a file structure or a blog, there are a number of things you need to think about, plan for and decide upon. In this article we've collected some thoughts and guidance from a few people who know a thing or two about content migrations.

Kyle Short: They Are Industry's Dirty Little Secret

CMSWire guest blogger Kyle Short , co-founder of EndState Solutions, a company that specializes in content migrations provided our readers with a solid overview of the tasks associated with migrating content. Things such as developing a detailed content inventory, paying close attention to hyperlinks and metadata are key components of any migration plan.

Tony Byrne: Brush That Metadata, Mind the Automation

CMS Watch's Tony Byrne likens content migrations to taking a trip to the dentist. Nobody likes them, but they are inevitable. He points us to a whitepaper written by James Robertson of StepTwo Designs. Tony also notes the importance of metadata in content migrations and says that, "Someone knowledgeable needs to add all those tags -- at least as part of the final migration QA process." He also indicated that automated classification tools are a "mixed bag at best".

James Robertson: They Are Large, Ugly and Unavoidable

James Robertson has written a comprehensive article about this content migration business. He indicates that in most site redevelopment or relaunch projects, "The project management challenges start early, and it is easy to overlook the time (and effort) needed to migrate the content from the old to the new site." The problem is, the content migration process tends to be the biggest activity. He talks about three approaches to content migration: automated, manual and partially automated. There are strengths and weaknesses to each option and the article covers these in depth. For example, he indicates that an automated approach is usually the preferred approach, but generally not achievable due to the quality of the content and how it may currently be structured and stored. That being said, the manual approach may be the simplest, using the cut and paste approach, but it is very labor intensive. The final section of the article outlines some suggestions for content migration, many we see in Kyle Short's article noted above. Notable ones include: supporting your content owners and making sure all content has an owner, proper planning, cleaning the content as you migrate and outsource sparingly.

Adriaan Bloem: Chew on Some Manual Considerations

After reading James' piece, Adriaan M. Bloem of Radagio - Content Management Strategy posted an interesting discussion on how a manual migration may occur and the challenges associated with bringing in outside resources to help. His suggestion is to get the in-house editors to make all the decisions about what content goes, where it goes and what needs to be rewritten and then get some really good cut and pasters to come in and do the tedious work.

Key Points to Take Away

There's lots of good advice and suggestions in these posts. Things we know as content management professionals need to be considered carefully. So what are our key takeaways? * Plan, plan, plan * Look into automated and semi-automated, but don't expect miracles * Inventory first * Never migrate content as is -- always expect changes * Keep metadata top of mind * Consider outsourcing for the simple tasks like cutting and pasting So, as you start to think about moving to that really great new CMS product everyone has been blogging about, just remember that the technology implementation may be the easy part of the redevelopment. The content migration, if not planned and executed carefully could go from a simple teeth cleaning to a major route canal.