The Dos & Don’ts of migrating data to the cloud

  • Paul Milmore
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The Dos & Don’ts of migrating data to the cloud

The public sector is dominated by large, strategic applications that are based on large scale and expensive infrastructure and no longer support the delivery of effective services. 

The business case for migrating to web-based applications with new suppliers – the opportunity to save money on license fees and infrastructure costs AND improve staff productivity with a modern system that supports flexible working – is very appealing.   

But what do you do with all of that data and all of those documents in the legacy system? 

Much of this data has to be kept, for business reasons and to fulfil statutory obligations – and this is where many of these cloud migration projects can enter difficult waters, often de-railing projects entirely.  This huge data migration can end up costing so much, or taking so long, or requiring the legacy application to be run alongside the new software, that previously valuable projects become unviable.  Which is a great shame as it stops the organisation from gaining the many benefits that the latest cloud technology platforms have to offer.

So how can you avoid this and prevent data migration from de-railing your project? 

Don’t worry, help is at hand.  You can overcome the data migration requirements, these are a few pointers from our experience of delivering several of these alongside our clients in recent times.  

  1. Put a proper plan in place and run the data migration as a separate and dedicated workstream – this is an important element and requires a dedicated lead and specific plan to ensure success.
  2. Start early – begin conversations with your service users and managers on what data and documents they need to migrate from the legacy system.
  3. Discuss with suppliers at the procurement stage of your project – drill down into data migration during procurement, supplier approaches and experience could well be a differentiating factor in which one you select.
  4. Challenge service colleagues – often the default position is “we want to migrate everything”, this isn’t always required when you look at statutory requirements and ask how often this data is actually viewed and used.  Reducing the size of the task is always a bonus.
  5. Be flexible on your approach and solutions – often certain documents and data can be archived in an off-system solution like SharePoint or use a digital archiving solution.  Not all data needs to be migrated to the new platform to be usable and searchable in the future.
  6. Be really clear upfront what data is to migrate – print out screenshots and circle the fields that service colleagues want to migrate, and triple-check back with them!  It is hard to add in new fields and data points at a later date.
  7. Be prepared for multiple data cuts – this isn’t a sign of failure, more a desire to get things spot on and it will take several runs to get things right.
  8. Contract with your supplier – where possible sign an agreement with your new supplier to migrate an agreed scope of data, this is then easier to manage, but be prepared to be flexible if it takes longer than expected and an off-system solution may be required for some aspects.
  9. Rigorous approach to data testing and sign off – document what data you are migrating and set up a rigorous testing plan, ensure that you go back and test previously sign off data checks after each cut of data, things can move around between and within data cuts.   


Want to find out more?

These are just a few of our learnings from recent experience.  31ten are happy to discuss any aspect of data migration or digital transformation, regardless of where you are in your project.

To book a free no-obligation discussion, breaking down any of your digital pain points, just send us an email to

To read more about the key outcomes delivered and the role we undertook migrating data to the cloud at Be First, check out the case study. Or alternatively, you can listen to ‘Learning the lessons of transformation in planning & building control services’ – a discussion with Chief Planning Director Caroline Harper via the link below.