Few IT leaders want to believe their migrations could fail, but a recent survey shows that an increasing number are indeed failing, and that lack of preparation is the main cause.

In a survey of 2,000 IT executives, just under half (44 percent) stated that their organizations had failed at some type of IT migration in 2015.1 That’s a 22 percent increase over the previous year’s 36 percent. In addition, among IT leaders surveyed, about 70 percent noted that they were not prepared for downtime and additional costs associated with migration issues.

BY THE NUMBERS_1200Migrations have always been a time of high risk and high visibility for IT leaders. But, in today’s technology-dependent enterprise, poorly planned and hastily executed migrations deliver more than inconvenience—they can become costly errors that damage credibility and stifle productivity companywide.

Chances are that your organization will be embarking on a migration soon, if it hasn’t already begun one. Gartner recently predicted that 50 percent of businesses will begin Windows 10 deployments by January 2017, making the new operating system the most widely installed ever. Recent news is turning the research firm’s predictions into reality:

  • On March 30, Microsoft announced that Windows 10 is now running on 270 million devices, and that the company is going full speed ahead with its goal of 1 billion devices.
  • Even the U.S. government—which historically has been a straggler in terms of updating its technology—is migrating. In February, Microsoft announced that the U.S. Department of Defense would be upgrading 4 million devices to Windows 10 within 12 months.

No matter what size your organization is, migration failure is not an option today, nor is delaying critical system upgrades.

Respondents to the recent survey noted a number of migration challenges, including system downtime, staff working overtime on weekends, validation of data integrity on the new system, and lack of staff expertise and training. The survey also identified the top two reasons cited for migration failure: An inability to start applications on the new server in the required timeframe (55%), and late discovery of issues due to a lack of testing (38%).

IT leaders noted a number of migration challenges, including system downtime, staff working overtime on weekends, validation of data integrity on the new system, and lack of staff expertise and training

The one word to take away from this survey is “preparation,” and the steps to take to ensure your next migration is successful are as follows:

  1. Consider every technical scenario. Unexpected migration problems can trigger spikes in call volume and overwhelm IT staff, who are already handling deployment issues and regular, non-migration support calls. Design a migration solution that is easily scalable to keep call flow stable and minimize IT and end-user downtime.
  2. Appoint a watchdog. Designate someone who is focused on ensuring the migration is smooth and seamless—someone whose job is to see the forest, not just the trees. By keeping a focus on feedback and analytics, and coordinating critical migration messaging, you ensure issues are identified and corrected immediately.
  3. Involve end-users. In order to realize the benefits of new technology, you need to adopt an approach that places heavy emphasis on end-user adoption. Start early with efforts to increase end-user proficiency with their current tools. Sustain the momentum with relevant, engaging training and ongoing support—during the migration and well after.

Even without major disruptions, migrations are high-risk, high-visibility and costly endeavors. By planning ahead for both technical and end-user adoption issues, you increase your chances of executing a seamless migration, and decrease the likelihood of becoming a statistic.

1.Survey: Tech execs under-prepared for downtime and extra costs during IT migrations,” CIO Dive, March 11, 2016.

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