Customer co-operation in migration

We are working on a large project and as it has progressed I have become increasingly worried about the progress made. The legacy systems seem to be less well maintained and more complex in their interconnections than the client had said and things do not seem to move very far each week. We are contracted to do the in flight cleanse, transformation and upload but not the extraction.What do I do about the lack of co-operation from the customer side?

One simple answer to this complex problem is that your client appears underpowered in terms of large scale migration experience on their side of the contractual responsibility, but they cannot ask you for that help without further muddying responsibilities. They have agreed to share the problem but have no real way in which to deliver on that promise. What they need right now is their own migration guru, so that the joint responsibility in the contract is backed by joint knowledge and actual capability to act. Because this has not been happening so far you gave felt compelled to reach across the contractual divide to their side in an attempt to de-risk. In fact this just blurs the contract further and could ultimately place you in danger of looking responsible for the client’s shortcomings precisely because you tried to be helpful on things that were really for them to deal with. I think it will probably be better for you to keep a firm divide and invite them to “Bolster the Home Team” as described on our home page for both your benefits.

If responsibilities for action do become unclear and the project subsequently fails the client is likely to cause you upset with bad publicity and of course the personal professional disappointment of project failure. Equally, they are very unlikely to make a legal case for compensation stick because of the ambiguity or receive a delivered system either. This really is an “everyone loses” scenario that both sides would do well to avoid.

If you have been moved to write as an implementation partner the client is probably even more concerned at this point. A brief conversation with an independent data migration consultant, such as myself, may be enough to convince them to hire the help they need and minimise both their risks and yours at the same time.

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