Since the introduction of Magento 2, thousands of articles have been written about the technical details of migrating from Magento 1 to Magento 2. On one level, this is understandable. Because Magento is an open source platform, the Magento community has developed a thriving and extensive marketplace, offering customized extensions and creative solutions for just about any eCommerce operation. This network, and the myriad solutions it offers, is what draws many retailers to Magento in the first place.
But among the chatter of complex technical details, an important topic has often been overlooked. It is, in fact, the most vital part of any migration: planning and preparation. What must happen before a single line of code is written? How do you prepare your business for such a major move? How should you lead your team through this transition? What does the view from 35,000 feet look like?
Let’s dig in and break it down. I’ll outline the important questions and decisions you need to make now, so you can unpack this transformation and keep your business on the right track.
Determine Your Timeline
What’s Your Deadline?
Earlier this year, Magento announced that support for Magento 1 Community Edition (CE) will be discontinued after November 2018. What will that mean for CE retailers who haven’t completed a migration by then? The most immediate change will likely be the end of Magento-released security patches. Without these vital security updates, your store—and your sensitive customer data—will be at risk. Eventually, Magento 1 extensions and third-party solutions will stagnate as the open source community shifts its attention fully to Magento 2.
Rumor has it that support for Magento 1 Enterprise Edition may be extended past November 2018, but Magento hasn’t yet confirmed or denied that. For now, the safest course of action is to complete your migration before November 2018.
High Demand = Less Flexibility
If you started your migration today, you’d have 17 months to launch. That may seem like plenty of time, but it really isn’t when you consider two particular realities:
- How does Magento connect to your ERP, CRM, or other tools? Chances are, your eCommerce operation relies on extensions and third-party integrations to keep your systems running smoothly.
- The Magento 2 marketplace is still brand new.
Developers are still creating or tweaking the Magento 2 versions of many popular extensions and integrations. You’ll likely need some custom development work to get your Magento 2 site up and running correctly—and so will everyone else.
Magento 2-savvy developers and agencies who can do that custom work, like Gauge, are in short supply. They’re already booking up quickly. These are big projects in high demand, and production capacity is limited. The longer you wait, the less flexibility you will have. This will lead to longer timelines and higher costs, regardless of which agency or developers you partner with, so don’t delay!
Key Takeaways: Assess Your Needs & Consider Your Calendar
- Develop a rough time estimate for your migration, based on your specific setup and needs.
- Consider your calendar and determine the best time for you to focus on this project. Working around business seasonality (Q4!) and other major industry events is a must, so make sure to factor those into your estimate.
Sample Magento 2 Migration Timeline: Our Recommendations
At Gauge, we’re highly experienced in handling complex migrations. Here’s a step-by-step walk-through of our recommendations. Feel free to use this framework and adapt it to your specific needs.
Internal Business Planning: 2-3 months
Preparation is critical for this project. Do not underestimate the value of planning, evaluating project requirements and scope, and creating very clear roles for your team and your agency partner. You and your team must understand and document each, so you can work effectively with an agency partner. The way you prepare before the project starts and the way you conduct yourself during the project will be the biggest factor in how quickly the project is completed. There’s absolutely a direct correlation between your level of preparation and the length of the project timeline.
Questions to Answer
- Who will manage the project on your team? Is it you or one of your employees? Who will need to give input or approval for decisions along the way? Many delays can be avoided by drawing clear lines around the decision-making process and making sure everyone is kept updated and aligned.
- Does that person have the time to focus on a major project like this? If needed, move some responsibilities to other team members’ plates. This isn’t a project someone can manage on top of a full everyday workload.
- What business initiatives will need to be put on hold while you focus on your migration? What needs to move to your “stop doing” list? We can all be guilty of trying to accomplish too much at once. That can be a dangerous trap to fall into while working through a complex migration.
- Where will the capital come from? As you’ll recall from your last site build, these are not small projects. Planning for the expense is crucial to launching successfully and on time.Hopefully, you’ve already been setting aside some money for your next replatform project. Internet technology evolves quickly, so we advise all of our clients to start saving for their next store as soon as they launch a new store. If liquid cash isn’t an option, will you need financing or third-party investment? It takes a long time to acquire either of those options, so plan accordingly.
Agency Partner Selection & Contract Writing: 2-3 months
Unless you have internal development resources, you will need to work with an agency like ours to launch your Magento 2 store before Magento 1 sunsets.
Tips for Agency Selection
- Again, there’s no substitute for preparation. Doing your homework and documenting your goals, objectives, and requirements will smooth your agency selection process dramatically. One of the biggest factors we evaluate about potential clients is their level of preparation. If a new client is very prepared, we know they’ll be easier to work with. Prepared clients mean less risk and less overhead for us, so we can actually offer a more competitive price.
- After you’ve narrowed down your choices, meet with your finalists in person at their offices before making your final decision. This is a critical project for your business, and you need to get it right. There’s no better method for getting to know someone than spending time with them face-to-face, in their “home.” Seeing an agency in action will give you a feel for how they operate and whether they’re the right fit for your team.
- An on-site visit is also a great opportunity to go over your contract in detail. Communicating face to face can make it much easier to spot areas of ambiguity and technical misunderstandings, saving you time and money down the road. This reassurance is well worth the $300 plane ticket! Make the investment—you won’t regret it.
Ready to Find an Agency?
If you’re ready to find an agency, let Gauge be your guide. We can build and deliver a detailed Statement of Work with a fixed timeline and fixed price as quickly as two weeks after our first discussion.
Site Build: 6-12 months
Naturally, the time needed for your site build will depend on your site’s technical complexity and whether you’re integrating with third-party software to power your business. You’ll need to carefully discuss this timeline with your agency.
The minimum we plan for is 6 months. That can include some page design, data migration, training, development, a light integration. and plenty of time for testing and quality assurance. If you have a small company with a small team, chances are you can move quite quickly. But if you’re a larger organization with multiple stakeholders and multiple websites or store views, the timeline will lengthen accordingly.
Training Your Team: 2-3 months
At Gauge, we include training time with all site migration projects, but it’s so important that I want to highlight it here. Making sure your team is properly trained and that their daily processes are clearly defined and documented is a critical step.
Don’t overcomplicate the documentation process. Some tasks can be quickly defined in a numbered list on one page. Taking the time to create reference material on these new processes and tools will make the transition from Magento 1 to Magento 2 much easier on your team. And your customers will feel the benefit. Avoiding frustrating and costly customer service complaints, incorrect orders, or confused team members should be a very high priority.
The Time is Now
So as you can see, if you add it all up, these projects can easily take 12-20 months to complete. Depending on your store’s size and complexity, you could already be three months behind schedule!
Start now. Build your requirements, determine who will do what, plan for the expense, and don’t hesitate to call or email us. We can build and deliver a detailed Statement of Work with a fixed price and fixed timeline as quickly as two weeks after our first discussion. Let’s get started!