IT Project Migration: How to Smoothly Transition Projects to a New Vendor

Scott Batchelor

Looking for a resource to track your project migration with the crucial questions to ask? Download our free project migration checklist (no sign-up required)

Companies face many uncertainties when it comes to project migration- and it’s not without good reason. Without a complete transfer of knowledge or the choice of a reliable third-party vendor, transitions can become drawn-out and pose significant financial risks.

Having worked on projects with everyone from SMEs to global brands, we’ve compiled this guide to ensure that your project transition goes smoothly with minimal disruption to your business, bringing the opportunity for substantial future growth.

Step one: Understanding Your Migration Motives

There are numerous reasons why migrating your software or IT project to a new vendor makes sense for your organisation. 

Common scenarios include:

  • The need for a different type of expertise
  • Increased resource requirements
  • Deadlines are being missed
  • SLA’s are not being met
  • Development quality is substandard
  • Poor communication

Whether you’re experiencing one, or multiple, migration factors, it can be useful to reflect on why the current supplier no longer fits your requirements and the impact of this on your business objectives. 

This will help you understand your exact requirements when it comes to selecting a new supplier. 

Step Two: Choosing a New Vendor

Choosing a new vendor is a long-term decision with significant consequences for your business. Whilst choosing the right partner can help you to reach your goals faster and ensure a competitive advantage, the wrong supplier can drain resources, incur unnecessary costs and even cause internal division.

Earlier this year, our Sales Director Rob Bellingham detailed the questions to ask when creating a new relationship with a third party supplier:

How can I protect my idea? Should we sign an NDA?

Before discussions begin, both parties should be comfortable signing a mutual NDA which protects them during discussions, even if they don’t decide to work together.

How long will development take? What will it cost?

This is a difficult question to answer in detail before a full specification has been developed. It’s very much dependent on both the complexity of the project, the speed at which any supplementary assets can be provided and the quality of third-party sources.

We typically provide development estimates after our Discovery process, in which a dedicated team scope your entire proposal, from commercial viability to timescales. You can find out more about Discovery here.

Do I own the intellectual property once the work is completed?

Your IP is important for subsequent raises and is an incredibly important asset to your business. Ideally, you should retain complete ownership of all intellectual property post-development and upon full payment of the agreed invoice.

It is important to discuss this from early on in supplier negotiations, and check verbally when signing contracts.

Looking for a complete guide to choosing a new vendor, with all the relevant questions to ask? Read our full article ‘How to Choose the Right Software Development Partner’ Here.

Step Three: Planning the Transition to a New Supplier

An important step in migrating vendors is ensuring that the transition has been planned to the fullest extent possible. If assets are not gathered and organised ready for the switch, you could face interruption to your service.

Information Gathering

Ensuring all of the relevant research and information is readily available to your new supplier is crucial to ensuring a smooth transition. If your new vendor is waiting for information necessary to proceed, lead times and financial cost are likely to increase.

  • Documentation 
    • Business Strategy
    • Initial Proposal
    • Initial Project specifications
    • Product Roadmap
    • Wireframes and Prototypes
    • Functional Specifications
    • User Research documentation
  • System Architecture Information
    • Deployment process
    • UAT plans
    • External and internal API documentation
    • Tech stack overview
  • Access and Security
    • Access to servers and databases
    • Access to analytics and/or data platforms
    • Access and details of code repositories (commonly on GitHub, GitLab or Bitbucket)
    • Access to project management system if appropriate (i.e. JIRA)

Defining the transition team

Managing internal resourcing as well as gaining a complete understanding of the third-party team responsible for the transition is vital to success. We’ve all heard the saying ‘too many cooks spoil the broth’- and this is particularly true in migrating IT projects.

Clearly defined roles and responsibilities give each stage of the migration process accountability and responsibility. This includes designating and introducing the relevant points of contact, broad task delegation and direction on internal prioritisation.

When dealing with such a complex process it’s important that the internal transition team have a complete understanding of their own role and responsibilities, as well as what the people on the vendor team do. This ensures a focused and meticulous approach to transition, and minimises the risk of scope creep, mis-communication or time budgets being broken.

Step Four: Ensuring a Smooth Transition to a New Supplier

Understandably, you want your transition to go as smoothly as possible. A good way to ensure that this happens is to put measures in place to ensure that expectations and requirements are fully outlined from the offset. The way we do this is by implementing a dedicated Discovery process

Discovery Process

Discovery is the phase of a mobile or web application’s development life cycle that happens prior to active building and is designed to ensure that digital products and applications do not fail. In it, business analysts, designers, developers and marketing teams collaborate over research pertaining to your target audience, competition and strategy.

In short, Discovery lays the foundations for a successful digital product, creating the project direction and minimising the risk of creating an application that underperforms.

To learn more about discovery and how it can be used to ensure a successful transition to a new vendor, read our full article ‘What Is the Discovery Phase & Why Do I Need It?’

Step Five: Post-Transition Growth Plans

As we’ve explained in this article, migrating a project to a new third-party supplier does not come without risk, but in choosing a reputable vendor and ensuring safety measures are put in place, you can provide significant opportunity for growth within your business.

Just as important as making the switch is ensuring that plans are in place to leverage new routes for growth. Your supplier’s team should be able to provide insight into the best avenues to take based on your new technological or resource capabilities. 

That being said, some relevant questions to ask may be:

  • After streamlining our processes, we now have additional available resources in our ___ team. How can we utilise this extra capability?
  • How can our new product or service be leveraged in our marketing efforts to attract new users or customers?
  • How was our working relationship with the new vendor? Budget allowing, would be happy to continue working with them?
  • Was our project more useful for our staff or our clients? Could we improve the experience further for either of these parties? How could we do this?

At this stage, your supplier should be able to discuss options for further growth contextualised by their own abilities and a complete understanding of how your business works.

Looking for an experienced technology partner who will work with you to safely migrate IT projects? Read about our product strategy services.

Looking for a resource to track your project migration with the crucial questions to ask? Download our free project migration checklist (no sign-up required)

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