Mention a platform migration in a room full of publishers, and you’re likely to notice a ripple of shivers through the crowd – PTSD from previous experiences and colleague horror stories. But on the ground, that’s no longer the story.

Demystifying Migrations Part 1

Since launching the Silverchair Platform in 2010, our team has performed more than 30 migrations, and our technology now hosts 9 million articles, 60,000 books, and myriad other content types, all with 99.99% uptime. In the last decade, platform technology, industry standards, and development processes have come a long way, all of which mean that migrations are no longer the migraine they used to be.

As a company committed to Agile practices, Silverchair believes in a constant cycle of learning and adapting, which means ongoing process & technology improvements. Below are some of the things we’ve learned over the years, as well as resources to help ease your nerves for your own platform migration:

  • Dedicate resources to migrations: Silverchair has dedicated staff that is fully focused solely on new client implementations. These cross-functional teams have the management, communications, and technical expertise to deliver all phases of an implementation. They operate an implementation “playbook” that lays out a step-by-step process for a successful migration and is infused with the hard-won knowledge of over a decade of platform migrations performed by Silverchair. As we do 5-10 implementations a year and many of our customers are doing their first implementation in 10+ years, we fully embrace the project lead role and show our clients clearly up front when we will need output and decisions from their staff. We intentionally minimize publisher staff time commitments, as we know that publisher staff all have their current operational responsibilities to fulfill even while a migration or implementation is ongoing.
  • Pick a well-networked partner: Silverchair has deep experience integrating with industry technology for eCommerce, authentication and entitlements, analytics, and product/subscription management. We even formalized several of these partnerships by launching the Silverchair Universe, which provides easy access to common industry integrations. We’re also involved in key industry working groups, associations, and committees, staying up to date on key topics and driving change to benefit our clients.
  • Leverage the platform for cost effectiveness while maintaining your uniqueness: Publishing operations across our industry have many similarities that have become table stakes. Access, search paradigms, content layout, and reading experience are all well covered by the platform. Our automated initial standup covers the majority of platform features and functionality out of the box, allowing the migration team to focus attention on customizations to support specific publisher business needs. We encourage publishers to leverage the 80% of common features of the platform and focus on the 20% that differentiates the content from anything else on the market. The platform architecture has flexibility built into it at all levels, offering a multitude of configurable options to tailor the platform to a customer's needs.
  • Pair with a true partner: Silverchair takes pride in our ability to collaborate with our clients in a transparent manner.  This has been the key to our success in not only bringing new products to market, but also to building relationships for continuous product development over time. “I wish all of our SaaS vendors worked as methodically and transparently as you. This is my third site build with Silverchair and it was the smoothest process of all. We've been working with Silverchair since 2012, and you have come a long way in your client communication and resources.”Caroline Polk, AOTA
  • Future-proof your business: Moving to a new platform is the perfect opportunity to remove existing tech/process debt from the current ecosystem. They offer a optimal time to retire old/redundant systems and processes and streamline publisher technology and operations. This frees up time for other mission-critical publisher activities. The platform provides the raw materials – tools and ever expanding features – to give the publisher the ability to adapt and grow as the scholarly publishing industry changes.
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Migrations have come a long way. Here’s what members of our community have to say about it:

"Working with publishers for over a decade, I’ve seen a strong improvement in revenue results when the combination of standardization and awareness of business-critical requirements meets robust, SaaS-based functionality. It’s a powerful partnership that truly builds business value from day 1." —Craig Griffin, VP, Solutions Engineering, Silverchair

"There was a time when launching a migration was terrifying. Exhausted after months of work, you close your eyes, hold your breath, and wish for the best when launching. Now launches are almost (ironically) boring. The process is so smooth and laid out in advance that we can launch and celebrate with confidence." —Paul Sanders, Chief Delivery Officer, Silverchair

"Maverick has handled program management for the migration of several publishers to the Silverchair Platform, and they have been very pleased with the progress of the migration, the support from Silverchair, the team effort, and most of all the increased features and functionality of the platform. It has been a revelation to them. It’s very rewarding." —Rebecca Rinehart, Maverick Publishing Specialists

"The build of IWA Publishing’s Silverchair site has been an education in a very pleasant way. There have been complications, which are inevitable in a project like this. I am impressed by how the Silverchair team have applied themselves to find practical, workable solutions which still enable us to achieve our goals. At the same time, the team at Silverchair have been very good company on our journey. We have enjoyed developing the site with Silverchair and look forward to seeing the benefits it delivers to our business." —Rod Cookson, IWA Publishing

"All the time and energy that Silverchair spent in the week coming up to launch getting us the information we wanted to be able to communicate to customers and exposing us to the features and data we would need to support them is paying off in spades and librarian goodwill. It reflects well on Silverchair as well as DUP that we are able to respond quickly with good information, and librarians pay attention to that. Our customers appreciate our transparency, and I appreciate yours." —Allison Belan, Duke University Press

Click here for Part 2, where we review the stages of a migration, or explore these additional resources:

  • NISO Recommended Practices Around Content Platform Migrations: Silverchair was an active member of the NISO Content Platform Migrations Working Group and helped to write the NISO Recommended Practices Around Content Platform Migrations. The document provides an excellent roadmap for publishers and librarians, and closely maps to our own practices, established over more than 30 migrations. The Appendix also offers a customizable checklist template that you can download and follow with your institutional customers.
  • The Positive Side Effects of a Platform Migration: Our friends at Data Conversion Laboratory explore the positive side effects publishers can experience during a platform migration (including discoverability & accessibility), particularly around upgrading their content structure.
  • Platform Migrations: A Phased Approach: In the past few years, we've seen more clients approaching migrations not as a single massive undertaking, but as a phased, iterative process. This is due to many factors. One is certainly annual budgets and the ability to learn from projects as you go and take advantage of that learning in further migrations. Another is that for many publishers, journals, books, and news / member content exist in entirely separate silos within an organization, making it difficult to get a unified approach, timeline, and budget for the entirety of a publisher’s assets.
You can also hear about recent Silverchair migrations in our case studies, or get in touch for us to connect you with a current client.

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