The Four Pillars for Delivering a Successful Migration

For most people, the idea of championing a digital migration as part of a large-scale acquisition might trigger night sweats. For Jill Porubovic, global vice president of technical workforce for Discovery, this was a challenge to face head on.

When Discovery closed its $14.6 billion acquisition of Scripps Networks Interactive, Porubovic oversaw the successful Active Directory (AD) and email migration of over 6,700 Scripps Networks employees using a four-pillar framework for effective change management. Each of the four components of the framework are designed to drive the success of the project.

1. Identify the type of change

When it comes to how they affect end users, technological changes can be defined in two ways: “do nothing” or “do something”. It’s important to identify which type of change you’re dealing with, as that will determine how early and how often you need to engage and get buy-in from your end users.

A “do nothing” change is something that doesn’t noticeably benefit the end user, such as a software patch or an email migration. In some cases, these may happen without user knowledge; in others, they may disrupt users’ day-to-day workflows. For these changes, IT has to do some additional work to highlight the benefits and engage users to ensure a seamless implementation.

A “do something” change, on the other hand, can be transformational. It provides tangible value that helps people do their jobs better. Such changes might include examples like streamlining the ad sales system so employees get better commissions, or implementing new conferencing software that simplifies booking, hosting, and recording meetings. In these cases, users will already be invested in the success of the project, and will only require a communication plan that outlines key dates and procedures.

2. Create a playbook, and constantly iterate on it

No two migrations are ever exactly alike, but they often share similarities. By creating and maintaining a playbook, you can save time otherwise dedicated to searching for a solution or conducting administrative tasks, and you can keep track of any lessons learned in past migrations so as to not repeat mistakes.

Porubovic’s team tried out a number of different tools before selecting the ones that were best suited to their needs for keeping track of tasks and deadlines. Now, when they’re tasked with a new migration project, they use best-in-breed automated tools to copy task lists, and then adjust based on the specifics.

3. Build your Trojan horse

Spearheading a migration in a global company like Discovery is a massive undertaking that requires unapologetic leadership. The parameters for making any decision revolve around whether it’s the right thing for the user, for IT, and for the company as a whole. As the project leader, Porubovic used these tenets to prepare for the Scripps Network AD/email migration and to advocate for the project across the organization.

Ultimately, a successful migration requires a parallel marketing and communications strategy that drives user engagement. This starts by recruiting early adopters across various departments, who will also become your subject matter experts within their teams. Leading up to the migration, Porubovic’s team prepared and distributed various materials—from posters to emails to landing pages—to ensure employees were prepared for the change. They also provided ample documentation, hosted in-person support in the form of an interactive “TechKnow Bar”, and gamified the process by giving prizes to early adopters.

4. Finish the job

Finally, the big migration may have come and gone, but the work is far from over. In fact, a large-scale migration could take well over a year before it’s actually finished. To avoid dropping the ball, make sure you’re tracking all the small tasks that still need to be completed, and iterating the playbook as needed.

Finally, have fun with your team! Celebrate their successes, share their wins with the rest of the company.

To learn about how Okta can support you in your AD migration, read about how these three other companies increased their M&A agility with Okta support.

To see and hear more about Jill Porubovic's migration journey at Discovery Communications, check out this video from Okane19.