March 27, 2014

​Introduction to Gimmal’s “Assessment, Transformation and Migration” Practice

4 minute read
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By Scott Bureau
Mar 27 2014

​This blog series will introduce, define and discuss Gimmal’s Assessment, Transformation and Migration, or ATM practice. In it I will provide an overview of our offerings; define relevant concepts and terms; and discuss the benefits, issues and concerns associated with content assessments and migrations. What is a content assessment? What’s eTrash? What does it mean to enhance metadata? What are the best SharePoint content migration tools on the market today? I’ll discuss these and other relevant topics in this and future blogs.

In this first post of my series I would like to introduce Gimmal’s Content Assessment offering. A content assessment is a technical, quantitative analysis of electronic unstructured content. That’s consultant speak for: we analyze content to reveal pertinent technical details about it, categorize the kinds of content present, report our findings and offer recommendations based on that information.

A content assessment addresses numerous important questions that inquiring minds want to know, such as: How much content is there? How many documents? What kinds of documents and in what formats? How old are they? Who owns them? Are there duplicates? Are there business records? Are there files containing sensitive information? Can any of it be deleted? Could it be better organized? Should it be managed elsewhere? Why should I care?

The scope of a content assessment is typically corporate network share drives and content management platforms such as SharePoint and Documentum. It’s not uncommon to extend that scope to desktop and laptop hard drives, e-mail archives and web sites; however, in my experience the biggest requirement is on share drives and SharePoint.

Gimmal’s content assessment offerings range from proof of concept (POC) to enterprise information management engagements. POC assessments broadly demonstrate the capability and process of our content assessment offering. POCs typically involve assessing a representative sample of content, ranging from 500GB to 1TB in volume, with a pre-defined set of categorization rules and deliverables. The content can be test content, copied production content or actual production content. Deliverables include a preliminary assessment presentation and a written final content assessment report detailing our findings and offering ‘next steps’ recommendations. POC assessments generally run 2-4 weeks, depending upon requirements and client level of involvement. POCs are great for clients wanting a better understanding of our offering or wish to compile compelling data and evidence on the state of information management in their organization.

The next level of engagement is a Pilot where Gimmal conducts a content assessment on production content for a single business unit or organization. The volume needs to be significant enough to test the process but not so large that it takes months to complete. I’ve found 1-2 TBs to be optimal. The assessment process is refined to meet specific client requirements and deliverables may be tailored to focus on particular areas of interest. In a Pilot, Gimmal will not just recommend next steps but take action on some of all of them. This is where Assessment ends and Transformation begins. Common actions include content clean-up (e.g. deleting eTrash), content reorganization and perhaps even content Migration, the final element of the ATM practice. Pilot content assessments generally run 4-8 weeks, again, depending upon requirements and client level of involvement. Pilot content assessments are often used as a test run for more ambitious content assessment, transformation and migration plans where volumes of content can reach into the hundreds of terabytes!

Finally, the scope of a content assessment can be expanded to multiple business units or organizations. The assessment process and deliverables are tailored to address specific business objectives and requirements and is executed consistently across the client enterprise. Content assessments of this scale almost always include elements of transformation and migration and are typically part of a larger information governance initiative.

To summarize, a content assessment is an analysis of unstructured content residing on corporate share drives, SharePoint and other locations where business files normally reside. Content assessments identify, categorize and report on the state of content in a given location. Gimmal offers proof of concept, Pilot and enterprise-scaled content assessments to its clients. Offering deliverables include a preliminary presentation and a final detailed report on all things content with recommendations on what clients should do next. An enterprise-scale content assessment is an integral part of an information governance initiative.

In my next blog post I will discuss common categorizations of content included in our content assessment offering with special emphasis on eTrash. There is that word again. What’s eTrash?

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