ECM Document Migration – Part 1: Prologue

Ah, the kinder and gentler times - the days of our predecessors before the dawn of the ECM migration era -we had no worries about upgrading our ECM environment and moving our documents and business processes from our existing solution to this new-fangled one.  But alas, times change, and so must our ECM solution.

For purposes of this series of blog entries, I will focus on how to evaluate, plan, and execute the migration of electronic documents and the metadata describing those documents.  Details of migrating physical (paper) documents, business applications, workflows, and other processes surrounding the use of electronic documents must be left for another time.

Document migration means simply the process of moving document images and metadata from an existing repository to a different repository.  The process may involve reformatting of images and normally includes mapping of classes and data between the repositories.  Other terms for document migration include document conversion or back file conversion.  A successful and cost effective document migration project involves squeezing high volumes of documents into short schedules, with fully documented results.


ECM – Electronic Content Management. 

Migration Framework – an integrated set of applications and processes designed to efficiently, accurately, and reliably move documents and data between repositories; a key component to a successful migration.

Repository – a very broad term which can run the gamut from basic local magnetic disk or optical storage (CD/DVD), to a departmental level network based solution, all the way to a full blown Enterprise implementation with multiple servers, databases, and hierarchical storage.  The source repository (or repositories) refers to the current home of the documents and data, while the target repository refers to the place where the documents and data move to.  Depending on the ECM software, this may be called a library, object store, resource manager, cabinet, volume, etc.

Document Taxonomy - refers to how documents are named, organized into classes, indexed, stored, and archived.  The taxonomy should align with a company’s Compliance, Governance, and Records Management framework (see below).

Document Features – the functionality available for working with documents and data.  Things like annotations, versioning, linking, publishing, security, auditing, searching, and so on.

Document Media – magnetic or optical storage holding the document images.  Can include tape or microfiche, disk based (DASD, NAS, SAN, fixed content), or optical (CD, DVD, magneto-optical)

Fixed Content Storage / Content Addressable Storage – a storage technology well suited for regulatory compliance where files are given a unique identifier based on the file’s content. This provides the ability to protect original copies from changes and to control when files can be deleted.

Hierarchical Storage – occurs when a system utilizes multiple media types designed to achieve a combination of performance, long term archival, regulatory compliance / retention, cost effectiveness, security, and so on. 

Compliance, Governance, Records Management – maintaining and using the records of an organization during the full life cycle from the time of their creation to the time of their destruction.  This generally covers categorizing, storing, organizing, tracking, securing, and disposing of the entities – both physical and digital – that the records represent.  The goals include: aiding in risk management, enabling legal protection and discovery, adhering to laws and regulations, protecting and sharing information, and corporate governance.  While these functions can be split up into multiple and (hopefully) integrated solutions, Records Management is the core idea and can be used as an umbrella term.

With the basics out of the way, how do we approach and make sense of document migration?  Like other complex projects, we need to go through the phases of Preparation, Analysis, Design, Project Planning, Execution, and Acceptance.  In subsequent articles, we will explore in depth how to go about executing these phases of an ECM Document Migration.


Imagine Solutions ECM Migration Services  can help make your next ECM Migration project very successful!

About the author

Sean Leino, Senior Systems Engineer

Sean Leino works for Imagine Solutions, Inc. as the Principal Conversion Specialist.  He has over 10 years of experience planning and executing document migrations for dozens of clients, ranging from small departmental repositories up to high volume, Fortune 100 enterprise systems with counts of a billion images and more.  Imagine Solutions, maker of Encapture: Distributed Capture System and an IBM Premier Business Partner, provides the full range of ECM services including migration, software, consulting, solutions, and platform services.