Nov 18, 2016 - Arianna Harrison

Planning a global digital replatform to Drupal 8

Since Drupal 8’s release in November, Third & Grove has launched some of the first major brand sites on the platform. We are also working with several different companies on building some of the largest Drupal 8 platforms in existence: Platforms that will power multiple sites in multiple languages and become the global digital platform for the entire organization.

Whether we are moving the client from Drupal 7 (or 6!) or another CMS entirely, the migration planning process we follow is very similar.

Step 1: Identify high-level business goals and requirements from all stakeholders

We usually go on-site for this crucial first step. Large companies have lots of stakeholders. While a large number of stakeholders is a common source of disaster for projects with poor project management, strong digital PM leadership makes large stakeholder groups an opportunity for learning and improvement rather than a liability.

In this phase we meet with every stakeholder we can and understand their objectives, how they measure success, how their leadership measures their success, and capture high-level requirements.

Once you understand then you can step back, pause, and ask, “how can we do this better to support what you actually need to do?” Too often that question is never asked and the new platform contains all of the baggage and none of the learning from the previous solution.

Step 2: Conduct a digital inventory

In this first step we identify every needed third-party system integration (internal and external to the client), all of the digital properties that will run on Drupal 8, and any data flows like analytics and custom reporting.

Step 3: Identify the editorial workflow

Every organization manages their content differently. Some organizations are nimble and editors publish directly on production, others want a staging environment to experiment, refine, and review, and many have complex approval processes with multiple layers. Still others have complex translation workflows that integrate with third-party translation systems and internal language reviewers.

Whatever the process, the current approach needs to be understood so that an appropriate (new or improved or the same) workflow can be thoughtfully architected.

Step 4: Perform a content inventory

Content strategy and creation will come later in the project (ideally the client is working in parallel with our digital strategy team), but to properly migrate you need a high-level sense of what content is being migrated as is, what is being changed in transit, what is being abandoned, and how the information architecture is going to change.

Step 5: Prepare the migration roadmap

The migration roadmap is a detailed project schedule detailing critical milestones and control points, a detailed approach to data migrations, and a detailed technical architecture heavy on the Drupal 8 details (modules, custom/contrib, content types, entities, etc).

Step 6: Prepare a resource plan

On many of our projects TAG is implementing large scale projects with a combination team of TAG resources (engineers, PM, architects, designers) and client resources (engineers mostly). This is a great way for an organization new to Drupal (or Drupal 8) to cross-train with our team, learn best practices, and transfer knowledge internal to the organization.

Wrapping up

Moving your global digital infrastructure to Drupal 8 is a large, complex project. With some planning effort and platform technical expertise you can ensure project success and a great return on your investment. Without this work it’s going to be hard to be successful.