7 Best Practices for Migrating to Cloud-Based CCM: Essential Guidance

Legacy CCM to the cloud 7 best practices ebookCloud-based CCM offers opportunities to be faster and more flexible, while also converting from a predominantly fixed cost structure to a variable cost model. In this guide we present migration challenges you should be prepared to address, and best practices for migration success.

Not to be outdone in the ever-changing technology space by ERP (enterprise resource planning) and ECM (enterprise content management) vendors, CCM (customer communications management) vendors are following suit and building software-as-a-service and platform-as-a-service environments for customers. Customers are taking notice and beginning to think seriously about the cloud as a viable platform for CCM. For IT and Operations executives challenged to reduce operating and maintenance costs, this may just be the right solution.

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By now, most of us know the fundamental benefits that cloud computing can bring, including:

  • Shorter implementation time
  • No / reduced capital expenditures
  • Flexible operating and service delivery models
  • Improved security (in many cases)
  • Platform availability
  • Scalability options
  • Potential cost reduction

CCM systems have historically been very costly on-premises environments that require multiple development, test and production environments, a high level of backup and failover capacity, and – as much as we hate to admit it – a fair amount of shelf-ware and unused licenses. Bottom line – you’ve got heavy upfront investment with fixed recurring costs, complex infrastructure, and a slow and costly publishing process. Your business partners and senior leaders are demanding better.

Challenges to Address – With Any Migration

Any migration presents challenges. You can group the CCM migration challenges into two primary buckets:

  1. Cloud migration challenges
  2. Document content migration challenges

Chances are your firm has addressed most of the data security and technical challenges associated with moving to the cloud, so for this guide, we’ll focus on the document and content migration challenges.

2 types of CCM cloud migration challenges

It’s fair to assume that if you’re going to migrate your CCM environment to the cloud, you are also either doing a significant version upgrade within your toolset or changing CCM tool vendors. That said, you’ll find that the migration is very similar to an on-premises upgrade or migration. Some of the key challenges include: 

  • High volume of content and templates to migrate
  • New integrations of source systems and backend systems
  • Integrating workflow across business teams as well as on-premises and cloud domains
  • Learning curve on the new tool
  • Reducing legacy content baggage
  • Migrating authoring and design and/or generation and delivery (this one is primarily cloud-centric)

Best Practices for a Successful CCM Legacy Migration

Now that viable alternative solutions are available, are you ready to migrate to a cloud-based CCM? Are you even ready to perform a fair assessment?

Consider these important best practices, which are also key steps in doing your due diligence before a CCM legacy migration to cloud:

  • Know your enterprise strategy for cloud computing.
  • Understand the security and data privacy do’s and don’ts within your firm.
  • Map your key integration points and data feeds (some of which may be in the cloud already).
  • Define your target CCM operating model, but be willing to adjust.
  • Understand your must-have capabilities (and the nice-to-haves).
  • Know your content.
  • Know your existing all-in cost for the current CCM environment.

7 CCM Cloud migration best practicesLet’s look at what’s involved in each of these items.

Know Your Enterprise Strategy Relative to Cloud Computing

Your enterprise has likely already developed a strategy and position on enterprise applications in the cloud. Leverage that as much as possible. Trying to change the approach or get an exception is just a delay waiting to happen. Wherever you can, follow the trodden path; be that AWS vs. Azure, Single Tenant vs. Multi-tenant, or other data persistence options.

Understand the Security and Data Privacy Do’s and Don’ts Within Your Firm

You likely have a full set of data security and data privacy standards and checklists that must be completed and validated for every cloud provider you assess. Engage your appropriate security/privacy team to leverage their expertise and methodology. Don’t try this yourself. Without their blessing you’ll have no shot, no matter how sound or attractive the opportunity.

Map Your Key Integration Points and Data Feeds (Some May Be in the Cloud Already)

One of the biggest migration costs you’ll encounter is the integration from your source systems to the various output and delivery systems used. Make sure you know all the integration points and have the ability to estimate the costs of changing those. With luck, some of your source systems or delivery systems may already be in the cloud.

Define Your Target CCM Operating Model, but Be Willing to Adjust

Going into the assessment you should have an idea of the target operating model. Do you envision a hybrid model? Are you looking for just the authoring, development, and test environments to be in the cloud, while the communications generation platform remains on-premises? Or are you comfortable with the entire communications ecosystem residing in the cloud? Much of this will be impacted, if not determined, by your data and privacy policies. Note that you may be surprised by the vendor operating environments, so be willing to adjust your approach if supported by economics and security.

Understand Your Must-have Capabilities (and the Nice-to-haves)

This item is not vastly different from a CCM platform analysis for an on-premises solution. Vendor tools and capabilities don’t differ greatly based upon the on- or off-premises factor, although other items mentioned above may. In addition to the tools’ usability and production capabilities, be sure to assess available APIs for integration.

Know Your Content

While this sounds simple, you’d be surprised at the number of “unknowns” that exist in many CCM environments. We generally find that the greater the number of CCM tools and the more decentralized the ownership and stewardship of the process, the more unknowns exist. Examples of unknowns include seemingly basic metrics: total documents, total templates, number or percentage of reusable content fragments, tagging discretionary vs. regulatory content, production volumes by document, and sometimes even content ownership. While there may be plenty of history and solid reasoning to explain why, that’s mostly irrelevant. It is critically important to close as many of the gaps that exist in order to perform a migration efficiently and effectively.

Know Your Existing All-in Cost for the Current CCM Environment

Ultimately the decision will come down to economics, and history has shown us that many firms don’t have a firm grasp of the all-in cost of their CCM infrastructure, authoring, and development processes and their review and approval processes. Many firms that think they know this, but vastly underestimate the total all-in costs. This makes for a tough business case and often a “do-nothing” decision. If you’re serious, take the time to determine the all-in cost and get alignment with your business partners.

Conclusion

If you still want to take advantage of the opportunities of cloud-based CCM in order to be faster and more flexible, while also converting from a predominantly fixed cost structure to a variable cost model, then now is the time to begin that assessment. Your partners and neighbors in the ERP, ECM and other source systems spaces have provided a path, and it’s time for CCM teams to get on board.

If you're considering migrating your legacy CCM system to the cloud, Doculabs can help you develop your strategy and avoid common mistakes. 

Yes, I'd like help with my CCM planning.

Rich Medina
Doculabs Vision Team
Our blogs are a group effort, from writing to editing to brainstorming topics. We collaborate to provide you with our best thinking that will help you use technology to improve how your organization operates. The Doculabs blogging team is Richard Medina, James Watson, Marty Pavlik, and Tom Roberts.