Replatforming Series: Phase 4 - Risk Assessment

REPLATFORMING SERIES: Phase 4: Creating a Risk Assessment Plan

This is the seventh part in a 10-part series by Coalition Technologies on replatforming.

risk assessment plan

Whether you need to implement a new system or move valuable information to secure storage locations, data migration is an integral and routine part of your business. Unfortunately, the majority of data migration projects are poorly executed by going over budget, taking longer than anticipated, failing, and not following a risk assessment plan. Developing a risk assessment plan can help you determine how replatforming may affect your budget, timeline, and success. 

How to Develop a Risk Assessment Plan

When creating your website risk assessment plan, ask questions and gather information about data concerning your products and customers before the migration. For example: 

  • Is the data clean? Will it need to be cleaned before the data migration?
  • Where is the data coming from (i.e. a single source or multiple sources)?
  • What data will you migrate? Everything? Active transactions? Historical data?
  • Did you review your RFP documentation and initial discovery? 
  • Are you following your initial project and business goals?
  • How will replatforming impact your SEO efforts?

Once you answer these questions, take a look at the # of ways replatforming can impact your SEO endeavors. Determine how these can negatively affect your timeline, budget, and project success, and what your overall risk is.

10 Things to Consider when Creating a Risk Assessment Plan

1. Create a Detailed Project Plan

A detailed plan helps stakeholders work towards the outlined goals by a given deadline. A good website risk assessment plan has escalation processes and updates when the project shifts.

2. Make a Contingency Plan

Contingency plans include a budget set aside to address unexpected issues that may arise and time blocks to cover project delays.

3. Commercial Sponsorship

Commercial sponsorship provides resources and has authority over project decisions. More than one sponsor will likely delay the project and create roadblocks.  

4. Select Your Project Manager

Project managers prevent delays, stay within budget, and ensure that the project meets high standards.

5. List Project Roles and Responsibilities 

Define project roles and responsibilities to decrease the chance of bad decision-making and misused time.

6. Add Project Scope Details

Decide what should be included in the project scope. Explain the project fee and go over each item to make sure it is understood.

7. Understand Business Plan Requirements

Know what you have agreed to and the priority of each requirement before the contract is signed. 

8. Review Your Contract and Documents

Have a legal resource review your documents, including your contract terms. Review obligations, break clauses, and rates listed in the contract.

9. Set Up Support and Maintenance

Specify who will support the platform after it goes live, including initial bug fixes and ongoing maintenance support. Clearly list if this is included in the project or billed as an additional cost.

10. Maintain Internal Communication

Take part in regular project alignment meetings where the team gives updates and decides the next steps. Be transparent and use communication tools to touch base on the project. 

SEO Factors to Consider When Creating Your Risk Assessment Plan

Keep Unique URL Structures

Replatforming will likely affect SEO efforts at first, however, you can reduce the long-term effects by utilizing paid marketing while organic search builds up new traffic, and keeping unique URL structures. Use comprehensive 301 redirects to map every old URL (listed in Google Analytics) to the comparable new URL. This ensures Googlebot ranks your pages and you don’t lose about 15% of your website traffic. 301 redirects can also be applied to old image and video URLs bringing in a good amount of traffic.

Wait to Remove or Consolidate Content

A failed redesign for a charity resulted in a 90% traffic drop. Refrain from removing or consolidating content until after the data migration. Traffic and revenue may go down if your overall unique content is significantly lower after the replatform. Similarly, consolidating pages for a cleaner look and minimalist appeal removes the amount of unique content across your website, making it hard to rank for the same terms as before. 

Reuse Metadata from the Old Site

Transfer metadata from the old site to the new one to make sure no page is without title tags, H1 tags, and meta descriptions. Reusing metadata also helps keep tasks on track to avoid being a part of the 73% of migration projects that take over a year to finish.

After a couple of weeks pass without major issues, you can consider updating title tags, H1 tags, and meta descriptions on pages that can perform better. Avoid updating everything at once and work in batches instead. 

Don’t Discard Redirect Mapping Files 

Redirects are permanent in the eyes of Googlebot as it continues to crawl old 404 and 410 URLs. In the event, you have difficulty with 404 errors after a replatform, examine the recent URLs crawled by Google (or other search engines) to identify problems and complete redirect maps.

Why Including a Risk Assessment Plan is Invaluable

To some degree, project risk is inevitable. Being cognizant of potential obstacles and issues can prevent a project from failing and mitigate the potential pushback in order to stay within your project’s budget and ensure it is completed on time.

A thorough website risk assessment can help ensure that your project goals are met, your team knows their roles and responsibilities, you have communication lines set up, you have support and maintenance, and a contingency plan in case an unforeseen event occurs.  In gist, a risk assessment plan will bring you one step closer to completing the replatform with confidence and direction.

In the next part of our Replatforming Series, read about creating a data migration plan for your business.

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