5 Mistakes That Can Drive Up User Migration Costs

If you’re upgrading to new company software, a new operating system, or even moving from on-premises systems to the cloud, you’re thinking about user migration. User migration projects are rarely quick, nor easy, as they demand meticulous planning and attention to detail. However, with proper foresight and preparation, user migrations don’t need to be so stressful. Avoid making these five mistakes, and you can ensure your project preserves your data integrity, keeps your users secure, and succeeds in making your organization more efficient.

1. Migrating incomplete or incorrect information

Before you start, you need to know the state of your user profiles. Their various storage locations, levels of access, and credential details are all vital pieces of information. You should also ensure that every user record is accurate and up-to-date. Contradictory or incomplete data can result in the failure of system searches and automated reports, so reduce that risk by confirming the validity of all user account details. And there’s another benefit to this adherence: standardizing your user accounts upfront saves you administrative overhead down the line.

2. Not considering the user experience

Determine which services are potentially affected by the user migration and how it would impact user experience. For example, if your project involves importing accounts in bulk but requires every user to reset their password, it may strongly inconvenience your end users and strain your support team. Consider and plan around delays that could occur when all users access the new system for the first time.

3. Testing only at the last minute

To ensure a successful user migration, test at every phase of your migration project—not just the last round. Early testing can help you validate your user profiles, ensure the migration approach you have chosen is correct, and identify any support issues. It is vital that you detect as many problems as possible before migrating the bulk of your users. To do so, consider testing a pilot group before the big move. The users in your pilot group should come from every department and role in your organization, making sure you cover as many scenarios as possible.

4. Neglecting security

User security should always be your highest priority, so secure your user accounts before, during, and after a migration. Encrypt all data—especially passwords—and never expose your profile directories or databases to the public internet. Your migration process should also respect the confidentiality of user data. For example, it may be easier to reset everyone’s passwords or migrate them in plain text rather than encrypting them, but this would be a significant security risk. Also note that providing the migration team unfettered access to users’ profiles and credentials breaches the integrity of the data and infringes on privacy regulations.

5. Not preparing for downtime

If you’re migrating users to the cloud, make sure you have a coverage plan in case of network or software outages. Downtime puts a roadblock on user productivity, and can result in a financial hit—81% of businesses report that just one hour of outage can cost over $300,000. User access to apps and services could be affected, if not blocked entirely, during a user migration, so it’s wise to create a backup environment from which users can access the applications they need. If it’s not possible to avoid downtime, try to minimize disruption by scheduling the user migration outside of regular working hours.

Migrating user accounts can be a time-consuming and costly exercise. However, if you perform the proper due diligence, plan appropriately, and follow these best practices, your migration can be as seamless as possible—for you and your users.

Still not sure which approach to take with your user migration project? Check out our Okta User Migration Guide infographic!