How to audit content for migration, part I: The what, why, and how

What is a content migration audit?

  • By Team CSI
  • |
  • Apr 3 2018
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  • Categories: Articles

You’ve made the decision to move to a new platform. Your content strategist may have already audited your content for quality, and prepared a migration framework. What’s next?

It’s time to take out the magnifying glass and take a close look at your content by conducting a content migration audit.

Why should you audit your content before you migrate it? The same reason you purge your closets before you move to a new home. You’d be amazed at how much clutter you’ve accumulated over the years. Nobody wants to spend energy moving useless junk and with the clutter gone, it’s much easier to see and use the pieces that remain. 

Migration audits are a great way to take stock of your content, decide what to keep, and get an idea of how much work you’ll need to do before and after the migration.

If you’ve never done a migration audit before, here’s an overview:

  • Create a list of every piece of content you might want to migrate.
  • Write a list of rules you’ll use to make decisions about the content. These rules will help you decide what to get rid of, what to keep, and how to assign the right content type.
  • Look at each item on the list in turn, recording key details and noting your decisions about what to do with the content.

It might sound tedious, but the more effort you put in during the migration audit, the less work you will need to put in later on. The results of your migration audit become a to-do list for content development and maintenance on the new platform, and you’ll thank yourself for eliminating clutter early on.

When planning your migration audit, it’s a safe bet that some of these questions will come up:

  • How long will the audit process take?
  • How much content are you going to keep?
  • How much content development will you have to do before or after the migration?

To answer these questions, you’ll need to keep track of a lot of data.

Deciding what to track

Since you’re going to touch all of your content during the migration audit anyway, it’s a great chance to collect and track data about your content.

How do you know what’s important to track? It depends on the type of content you have and what kind of information you’ll need for a successful migration.

As a starting point, we recommend you track at least the following:

ID Titles and locations can change. Give each piece of content a unique ID.
Title This is the easiest way to identify a piece of content at a glance.
Location Usually an intranet URL or network drive location.
Audit status “Complete” or “Not started”.
Audit date The date you audited the piece of content.
Current content type Think “training”, “process”, “concept”, “article”, or “product description”.
New content type Where it fits into the new content framework.
Action What should happen to this during the migration. For example: keep, rewrite, delete, split into multiple items, or merge with another piece of content.
Notes This is a good place to support your findings, flag entries that will need further attention, or record any other impressions. Optional.

Of course, the possibilities don’t end there. Every organization and migration is a different, so spend some time identifying your unique data needs. Here are a few more ideas for you to consider:

  • Quality metrics
  • Post-migration title
  • Post-migration location
  • File type
  • View count or frequency of use
  • Auditor
  • Number of articles to write (for content that will be split apart during migration)

That’s a lot of data. What’s the best way to store all of that data? In a good, old-fashioned spreadsheet. See the part II of our thoughts on migration audits, where we share our content migration audit template!

Further reading

How to audit for content quality

Weeding the worst content: Learning from librarians

Our content strategy services