Beating the odds on a challenging migration project

When I rang in the year 2020, I had no idea that the year would bring with it one of the most challenging projects of my career. Our client, one of the largest banking institutions in the world, was on its way to migrate huge stockpile of data from legacy Lotus Notes to SharePoint. The project was in the works for nearly six months with several vendors before I was brought onboard.

What followed was a learning experience. The team was working on a prototype without an existing architecture. Many decisions were made on the go, often without data at hand, and naturally, the prototype was rejected by the client. There were initial challenges on size of data within the client’s team, which meant that we simply had no direction in terms of what data from 30 years’ worth of archives were to be migrated and what we could delete.

I had my work cut out for me

From day 1, I knew what I needed to do to get the project on track. This included three key tasks –

  • Introducing structures, architecture, and processes to the way of working
  • Building confidence in the client so they could give us clear directions and we could be on the same page in terms of scope of migration and everyday decision-making
  • Bringing the team across different vendors on to a common ground instead of operating independently. We also needed to ensure cohesive and slick operations and collectively come up with out of the box ideas to address project challenges

I started with a firm solution architecture for the next prototype we were to present to the client. Weeks were spent on deciding and performing data analysis to define the threshold for archives to be migrated. It was eventually decided that no data would be purged and we had a new challenge – migrating 30 years’ worth of complex data on to the SharePoint. We knew we needed to think of out-of-the-box solutions to address this. So, we created a retention & archival policy and much of the dated data was archived with limited access. Ultimately, the prototype was approved and we moved to production stage.

Building confidence in the client was critical. I took up the task of getting everyone on the same page in terms of scope of migration and convincing the customer of our approach. Seeing the focus on structure and processes won the trust to a great extent.

Team building was an important part in success of the project. Operating on a lean team, I ensured that we worked cohesively and took on our share of ideation as well as execution. This ensured that we collectively came up with many unique yet effective ideas to address challenges that cropped up in the migration project. Some examples include:

  • Efficient use of OOB SharePoint features such as Search, User Profiles and Groups & Permissions
  • Source data analysis – We accomplished data sizing based on the content in Lotus Notes for each environment.
  • Auto publishing of documents using custom actions for publish which enforced business validation before publishing
  • Addressing Content Organizer Rule limitations for document set routing during archival with appropriate version as per business needs
  • Performance optimization of logs at a document level
  • Optimized migration process by building automated tools, eventually reducing the migration timeline

We tracked some significant challenges together, ultimately delivering a collaborative and fully functional SharePoint for the client. The project was challenging, as we tackled its complexities along with a raging pandemic. But the objective to achieve client success never left our minds.

A year later…

I look back with great happiness and satisfaction on a job done well despite all odds. The challenges and course corrections have prepared me better for future projects, both in terms of earning the client’s trust from the get-go as well as technical processes and structures. A huge shout out to the team (special mention to Shibabrat Bisoi) that stuck together and sailed through the surges and ebbs. Onwards and upwards!


Author:

Raghavendra Hari Shanbhag
Technical Architect,
ITC Infotech


 

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