How to Prep for a PDM Migration

By Keith Thompson on June 8, 2022

Moving CAD files from one location to another may seem like a simple task, and it can be if you have a small number of files to move. In this case, it may be as easy as copy and paste, or “Pack and Go”, in the case of SOLIDWORKS CAD files.

However, moving thousands of documents on the other hand can be challenging. This could take weeks, or months. How will you work with a third party (Migration Team) to get this done in a timely manner and minimize the impact to production while maintaining the integrity of your data?

PDM migration

The big thing to understand, you are not simply copying and pasting your data into PDM. Moving legacy data means dealing with years of intellectual property. This can range from one to 20+ years of CAD data that may need to be cleaned and conditioned (duplicates and references) within the new system.

Many times, the current people at the company are not familiar with the vast amount of historical data and simply want everything dumped into the system. It may be a while since the files have been touched, so this is the time to cleanup.

Five key things to plan for in advance when doing a PDM migration are:

  1. Point of Contact
  2. System Access
  3. Vault Configuration
  4. Data Structure
  5. Expectations

Point of Contact

The first order of preparing for a PDM migration is to appoint one person as the single point of contact to coordinate within the company and the contact from the migration team. You may also want to appoint another person as a backup, that is kept up to date with the migration needs and progress when the primary person is unavailable, to keep the project moving.

Having a primary point of contact will help in the following ways:

  • Eliminate conflicts and confusion.
  • Reduce time waiting for information.
  • Keep project moving.

System Access

The migration team will need remote (local admin) access to the PDM system (Server, PDM, SQL) with R/W permission to the migration data source(s), and upload and download capabilities to the PDM server. This may seem like a simple ask, but depending on your company IT Policy and red tape, it could take weeks, or months to setup remote access, which can delay the start and length of the migration.

key to success

There are two types of access that may be granted, UNATTENDED access, or ATTENDED access. Unattended access is usually preferred, as it allows the migration team to perform the required tasks during or after business hours to keep the project on schedule. Attended access requires additional project coordination and management, which increases the delivery time.

The migration team may also require access to live production files, not a copy, as this will help them test and validate steps at different stages in the migration.

Vault Configuration

The PDM Vault must be fully installed and configured in the way you plan for it to operate. This means defining and assigning the required variables to store the metadata for the files, setting up the Workflows to manage the lifecycle of the documents, defining and establishing the Revision Scheme(s) to use to assign to the files as they undergo approved changes, and deciding whether a Common Library or Toolbox will be used.

Once these items have been established, no changes must be made to this configuration during the migration process.

Back it up! How to properly backup your SOLIDWORKS PDM >>

Data Structure

While PDM is great at managing and finding files, it is a good idea to define a folder structure to organize your data ahead of migrating files into it. Using folders to organize your files is very useful, but you should also define a set of metadata to help catalog and describe your data.

The key items to consider are:

  • The folder structure to keep and categorize files.
  • The required metadata to describe your files.
  • The naming convention to establish and maintain consistency.


Make sure you and your internal team know what’s expected of you and them throughout the course of the migration. You also need to inform the migration team of you and your company’s expectations. Make sure to discuss and set the following at a minimum:

  • Preferred Method of Communication
  • Known Vacation or Time-off Plans
  • Potential Challenges and Mitigation Strategies

Need help with your PDM Migration? We have a team of experts who can help! 

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