WCMS Migration – A how-to Guide (part 2 of 2)

Welcome to the second episode of the Web Content Management Systems (WCMS) migration article. As mentioned in the first episode on WCMS Migration How-to-Guide (part 1 of 2)whatever the reason to initiate a migration, migration isn’t just a copy and paste or lift and shift activity but rather a more engaging operation that requires commitment and championship from top management to achieve any level of success.

This episode focuses on WCMS factory/automated and semi-automated migrations. And presents situations that determine factory/automated migration including use cases, key concerns, and suitable implementation options.

WCMS Migration: Web Content Management Factory Migration Phases

Automated/Factory Migration from Source to Destination WCMS

Automated (aka. factory) migration uses programming interfaces (API) or scripts assisted by ETL tools (extract, transform, and load) to move content including media assets from source WCMS to destination WCMS. Although this approach may appear straightforward, it normally isn’t that simple, particularly when the source and destination web content management systems are different (not from the same vendor).

Use Cases for Automated/Factory Migration:

  • Organizations that want to migrate from an old and not supported version of a WCMS to a new version from the same WCMS vendor
  • Organizations with core competence in the digital space and solid team of expertise knowledge of source and destination web content management systems.

Key Concerns with Automated Migration:

  • Content freeze on source WCMS for the duration of the migration run.
  • Identifying pages/content that haven’t been properly migrated.
  • Heavy post migration manual rework
  • Backlinks: Web pages may contain links to other internal pages known as backlinks. Because web pages often have a new URL when migrated to a new system, the backlinks on pages are broken (not linking to any resource). Automated migrations; therefore, need to capture and update all links to migrated content to the new format to avoid broken links or page not found errors.

WCMS Migration: Web Content Management Migration broken links issue

In the above example, the target WCMS manages pages internally with content IDs, thus all the references (links) on a migrated page need to be updated with the corresponding content ID to resolve correctly.

To fix the broken reference issues, one needs two migration runs on the same website. The initial migration creates Content IDs for each URL from source WCMS and a second migration performs a lookup of URL (source WCMS) and available Content ID (target WCMS from first migration run) to replace page references within a page as illustrated below.

WCMS Migration: Migration Transformation Process


In the migration factory image above, the second migration (final transformation) uses a lookup file (output from the first migration run) to associate source WCMS URLs to target WCMS Content IDs.

Having the content in the target system and the page references working properly is just one step to a successful migration.  A user/stakeholder expects to view a working website with all functionalities and an intuitive design for a better user experience.  However, automated migration normally doesn’t migrate functionalities and features including design and other third party integration. Organizations that haven’t taken the time to develop the required features and functionalities prior to a migration run, end up introducing expensive changes late in the migration phase.

Semi-Automated Media Assets Migration

Digital media assets in the form of images, documents, text files, and videos may be migrated separately. These items could be batch imported into the digital assets management repository of the target WCMS. However, imported media assets are not automatically linked to their respective web pages, the embedded links within content pages need a further update to reflect the new location of the media assets. Updating the media assets links on all pages to reflect the new media assets location may take one of two forms a) updating a configuration file or b) performing a full content search and replace operation.


Finally, WCMS migration isn’t merely an IT exercise, but rather must also include key business stakeholders in establishing priorities, considerations, and approaches. There isn’t a one size fits all approach to performing a migration, thus organizations need to ensure the approach they select should best fit their needs. To succeed with a migration and achieve a greater value in a migration exercise, migration approaches should align with organizational objectives and priorities.

Carlson Ngwa

Dr. Carlson is certified in Enterprise Content Management, Information Professional, Scrum Master and Project Management Professional with profound technical and business skills. He serves as advisory in business and IT engagements leveraging on best practices to facilitate alignment of enterprise content management solutions to organizational strategic goals.
Carlson Ngwa
WCMS Migration - A how-to Guide (part 2 of 2)
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WCMS Migration - A how-to Guide (part 2 of 2)
Automated Web Content Management Migration (WCMS Migration): although automated approach may appear straightforward, it normally isn't that simple...
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Atos Consulting CH
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