As of December 4th, 2016, at least 82,000+ sites are running Drupal 6. Since Drupal 6 is no longer actively supported by the Drupal community, a lot of people urgently need to migrate to a newer version! So, what if you have of those sites and want to move to the most recent Drupal version?
In this blog post, I'll talk about some things to take into account when looking for someone to take care of your migration project. I won't talk about budget, time frame or scope. I won't just tell you "Hire us!" either. I'll just give my personal list of suggestions for how I would choose among the Drupal companies that offer this kind of migration service.
1 - Avoid hasty estimates
If someone takes a quick look at your site, and immediately says "We can do it in 300 hours"—that's probably not who you should choose. Project estimation requires in-depth study of all the site's details to come up with a real estimate.
You can get a high-level estimate if you need, but always with the intention of doing a more comprehensive one before closing the contract. If you're worried about the security of your data while developers investigate your site, you can just give them a temporary account, which you cancel when they're done.
Just remember that you nobody can give a real estimate without really looking at the site—reading custom code, looking at the theme JS & CSS, exploring the site's modules & settings, understanding the the content architecture. Anybody who gives an estimation without looking into all of this will be lying on the estimation.
2 - Ask for proof of Drupal overall experience
By this I mean experience with different Drupal versions. Whether Drupal 6 or 7, your site needs to be studied in depth for a clear understanding. Additionally, Drupal 8 knowledge is essential to understand how features will be mapped form from one site to the other.
Companies who have been in business for years have probably worked with the last 3 versions of Drupal. Ask for evidence and references from previous clients.
3 - Drupal 6/7 to 8 migration experience
Drupal 8 was released more than a year ago. Experience running Drupal 8 migration projects is a real value. Don't be the client used for "experimentation"—ask about similar projects the agency has worked on. With a team that know what they're doing, you'll get more accurate estimates and better results.
4 - Drupal community involvement and Drupal Core contributions
The more a team is involved in the actual Drupal community, the more polished the decisions are when calling for components, custom coding and warranty of the solution.
Good software projects mitigate risk since the very beginning and anticipate to problems from the start. This will always result in good estimates and end result.
Drupal Core and module developers are aware of the actual status of major projects inside the "Drupal ecosystem" and the main issues regarding each one they work on. You'll want someone who knows how things work at the lowest level, at least to have a real idea of the amount of effort required to get it done.
You want to hire someone up to date with trending practices, real community involvement and evidence that won't end up spending hours coding PHP instead of using the real maintainable and flexible future proof approaches. At the end, that is the reason we all choose Drupal, right?
5 - Ask specifically about the modules you use the most
Even if you know which sections you or your "current site" clients use every day, you won't want to confuse or disappoint your audience the day after the "Migration" is deployed. Ask for alternatives to non-existing modules: "How will this solved on the new solution?" or "This section is vital".
"Since Drupal 6", if we can call it that way, some modules have merged with other in the long run, others have disappeared, forked or completely rewritten under a different name. Still, your current site works on top of it and those are features you want to keep for sure.
No matter what, your own personal site success is the main purpose of all of this. Just ensure to have all the elements, and more than all, that whoever takes care of your site, has all the elements to make the migration process succeed since the very beginning.
If you have more suggestions like these, I would love to heard about it in the comments section of this post.