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Migrating off Windows XP -- the elephant in the room

Terry Chapman | Nov. 6, 2013
Microsoft's Terry Chapman writes this week on the tricky aspects of user requirements and application readiness when making the move off XP

This week we look at project stream concurrency, profiling your workforce, and — the elephant in the room — application remediation.

One of the challenges that we come across regularly is the length of time it takes to migrate to a new desktop. There are typically two main reasons for this: 10 (or more) years of neglected application lifecycle management (which we will come to shortly), and running the migration project like a large sequential task list of activities. Assuming that you have more than just one person assigned to your project, there are some key project activities that can be run in parallel. We will cover this as we look at each stream.

When Microsoft Consulting Services puts together a desktop modernisation project, we undertake five distinct streams of work: workforce analysis and design, application strategy and remediation, image creation, user experience personalisation and infrastructure preparation.

First off the rank is workforce analysis and design. Assessing and understanding who your project is designing for is undoubtedly the most neglected part of many Windows migration projects. Beyond simply collecting requirements, workforce analysis examines how your organisation's staff members work and use technology to support their day to day activities. Time spent doing this work at the beginning of your project is essential to ensuring that the right technology is deployed to the right staff in support of making their jobs easier.

The most common role types, or personas, that we tend to see are office based, mobile, task, contract and home workers. In addition each industry has its own distinct persona types with specific requirements — for instance, clinical nurse or airline pilot. The technology requirements to support each persona can be very different. Once the needs of different user groups are understood, we then document the overall project goals, sequence of tasks and design decisions across all streams of work in the form of a high level design. Importantly, start your design process with the end user of the technology in mind.

Now the hardest bit: application remediation. Without a doubt this is the most expensive and time consuming part of any Windows migration project. It is also the most common area where we see organisations struggling. These are the key problems: application 'sprawl' or years of limited application lifecycle management resulting in a huge application portfolio to deal with, lack of understanding from IT and the business of which applications are essential to keep the organisation running, historic decentralised application procurement and widespread administrative rights for staff to install their own favourite software. If your organisation ticks some or all of these boxes, don't worry, you are in good company.


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