So, the time has come for you to migrate your existing policy management system into a better solution that alleviates the headache of inadequate or insufficient policy management. As you are getting started with this project, it is important to keep in mind that the quality of a new system’s functionality will be directly proportional to the quality of information and documents used for the initial system implementation.

There are a few key elements to ensure a smooth and successful implementation when migrating policies into a new system.

1. Planning and Initial Decisions for Policy Migration

Importance of Planning and Initial Decisions in Policy System Migration

One of the most critical – yet often overlooked – steps in a policy system migration is planning and defining the scope of the project before the migration begins. Some of the questions that you will need to answer during the scope definition phase are:

  • What policies will be transferred over to the new policy management system?
  • What is the current location of, and can polices be easily extracted?
  • Will the new system house past, current and future versions of the policies?
  • Can current workflows, roles, and responsibilities be extracted in their current format or do they need to be configured during or after the migration process?
  • What is the desired timeline for the migration and will all key stakeholders be able to provide the necessary information for that timeline to succeed?

Once you have answered these questions you should be able to formulate a roadmap for your implementation that includes staffing needs, as well as records, documents, and components that will need to be included in planning and execution of your system migration.


2. Creation of Document Extracts


The key component of policy system migration is a complete extract of your existing policies, procedures and forms.

Note: while the majority of documents you will be migrating likely reside in your current policy system, make sure to also consider document repositories that currently might be managed separately. It often may be beneficial to have such documents included in your initial migration even though they were not managed in the original system.

When preparing document extracts, make sure the final directory of files is complete and well organized. You may want to pay specific attention to:

  • Consistent naming conventions (e.g. file names should correspond to policy names or policy numbers)
  • Organization of folders structure
  • Inclusion of previous (archived) versions along with current documents (if you decide to covert previous revisions as well).


3. Policy Meta Data – Document Listing Spreadsheet(s)

List document and policy meta data using spreadsheets to simplify policy system migration tasks.

The final component of a successful migration is a method to map your document extracts to policies’ meta data.

Typically, this is accomplished by providing your new vendor a report or a spreadsheet that contains the following information:

  • File name that maps to a document in the file extract.
  • Policy title (if different than file name).
  • Policy location which should map to a hierarchy of directory structure of policy document in the extract.
  • Important dates such as the version date, next review due date or the original effective date.
  • Relevant meta data such as references or links to regulatory standards.
  • A listing of parties involved in document management and approval broken down by responsibility (e.g. approvers, moderators, reviewers, editors). 

Hint: in order for scripting of information into the new policy management system, these names should be mapped to networks or system user accounts.


The document listing spreadsheet also serves the additional important purpose of providing a way to validate that the documents imported match those from the original system and that no documents or files were lost.  If importing archives, drafts or other documents it will be critical that you provide the vendor with reports that indicate what files these are as well as how many are expected. 


Various systems and vendors may require adjustment to the basic requirements listed in this article. Also, every implementation is different and requires attention to special cases and special or unique details. But as long as you follow the general steps outlined in this article and take the time to ensure the information and documents is complete and clearly mapped your chances of having a successful and painless implementation will be greatly improved.

Lastly, before you begin your policy management system migration journey, make sure to pick a vendor that is willing to assist you with the  process. At ComplyALIGN, for example, we work very closely with our clients to ensure source documents and records are as complete as possible to eliminate unnecessary steps, lower transition costs and shorten your implementation timeframe.