Over the past two months we have looked into some reasons why a migration to a new release may be warranted and wanted. Then we listened in on a fictitious conversation between Larry and Sam about large firm and small firm issues surrounding migrations. Now we turn our attention to how to make a move.
When the settlers started moving West in the great migration to California and Oregon in 1849 they first needed to prepare for the migration. They just didn’t get up one day and jump in the wagon and set out. They had to prepare for the journey of several months over rough terrain. A software migration may mimic this type of journey in several ways.
We start our planning long before we move so this month we will look into the areas we need to think through before we start off. There are several areas of review and focus that can be thought of in terms of organizing for a migration. An organized plan helps you to think through all of the issues and step through them once thought out. Get out a large sheet of paper and start jotting down notes as you go.
The three areas of reflection are:
- What to do before the migration
- The actual migration event or period
- What to do after the migration
We should first stop and categorize the areas that may be a concern before the migration begins. Here is a quick list of things to think about before you even consider starting a migration, before you go to management and ask for the money, and before you purchase the upgrades.
Before you migrate – prepare for the journey
In the words of one Oregon emigrant:
“In procuring supplies for this journey, the emigrant should provide himself with, at least, 200 pounds of flour, 150 pounds of bacon; ten pounds of coffee; twenty pounds of sugar; and ten pounds of salt.” A family of four would need over a thousand pounds of food to sustain them on the 2000 mile journey from St. Louis to Oregon. They needed to take time to prepare for that kind of need.
Let’s start thinking about what we need to do to get ready…
Your desktops and laptops: Are your current systems able to effectively run the new release? Autodesk products are requiring better and better hardware to get the job done. Building Systems “requires” 2 GB of RAM. Can you machines handle the stress.
Your server: Do you have enough space for shared content? Does file size matter? Can it run network licensing software?
Third Party Apps: Do they work on the new software release? Have you upgraded them yet? Have you budgeted for the upgrades? Will you get approval to purchase upgrades for them also? Often one critical application can stagnate a firm from moving ahead. Make sure that your tools all work together.
Output devices and drivers: Will your old plotter still work with the newest versions? Are the new drivers ready? Is now a good time to make an upgrade to your plotting output devices also? I have found that most firms do not want to spend money and are slow to approve expenditures. But once they decide to purchase, they want to get it all done and get it right. Try to include purchases of hardware with the software at the same time. Don’t continually go back and ask for more money. Management does not like it and it makes it look like you failed to plan.
Existing CAD files: Hopefully this should not be a problem, just open them in the new release and they work fine. But have you tested it? Have you defined when the old files will be migrated? Do you just move all of them or do you take them one project at a time? Do you switch software release in mid project or only start new projects in the upgraded release? Don’t let your environment become chaos. Make sure the users know when to move the files.
CAD Standards: In need of review and updating? Does the new release affect your existing standards? Should you update them before the move or after? Have you defined how you are going to use the new features that will be embraced once you move? Don’t get caught off guard with new features being used in several different ways. Sheet Sets, Project Navigator and more. They can be used in several different ways. Control their use creatively and you will succeed.
Prepping the people
Management: Have you been discussing the issue of migration with your upper management? Are they aware of the impact to production that a switch in software creates? Hopefully they are convinced (as you are) that the new software will eventually make them more productive. But the short downturn in efficiency that a change creates will impact projects. Let them know it is short term.
User: Are they ready to make a move? Do they want to make a move? Start feeding them information and create a sense of expectancy. Start generating a little positive PR about the new software. Have quick lunchtime demos of the new features. Get excited – it is contagious.
Support Staff: Are they up to speed on the software? Have they been trained? Are they ready to move? Have they tested the software? Beta? Final version? Make sure that your staff and yourself are ready for the move. You don’t need to know every last thing about the new software but you do have to have a “beyond the basics” knowledge.
Clients: It might be a good idea to mention your migration to your clients to get their reaction. They may applaud or abuse you based on their perspective of the new features. It may be your client that is driving you to upgrade. Let them know when you are moving.
Customization: Big changes in this area may keep you handicapped if you have heavily customized older versions. It is a whole different game now. Do you know how to migrate all of your settings, profiles, menus, LISP, VBA, etc.? Have you done it yet? Have you tested it?
User Training: Are you set for it? Are you going to do it or your reseller or someone else? I would suggest that you train your folks as soon as they can get their hands on the software. Train before you move production into the upgraded world. Either train right before you deploy or train as you deploy, but get some training material, get times and dates set and start training.
Well, it may seem like a long list but if you take the time to ponder the issue you may even come up with others. Share them with us via the forum on this article.