Project Management Institute

Mass migration

When its mainframe becomes obsolete, a city must instigate a program to move its departmental IT systems to a new server

City officials in Inglewood, California, USA, realized their governmental systems, including the one that handled emergency responses, were dependent on a mainframe that was rapidly becoming out-of-date. As the mainframe aged and old-school programmers and analysts retired, it became evident that migration to a new platform was imminent. This article discusses the US$4 million strategic program to evaluate each line of business application that resided on the mainframe, which was going to be migrated to a new platform. In doing so, it overviews the project's scope: The mainframe decommissioning took over five years and involved a host of internal resources, as well as dozens of contractors and consultants. Each application was evaluated and a project was created for each. The article explores the library system, the parking ticket system, and the residential sound insulation system. It describes the enterprise-wide system upgrade program and identifies the biggest lesson learned--the need to always evaluate how a change might affect end-users before making a decision. It also summarizes the significance of facilitating and supporting the project as a team effort, both internally and externally. The article concludes by discussing the role of the strategic account manager. Accompanying the article are two sidebars: The first one provides a seven-step roadmap for successful migrations; the second sidebar overviews what happens when a mission-critical project fails. A timeline for the migration project also accompanies the article.
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