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Make 2021 the year that you move to ArcGIS Pro!

How hard is it, really, to migrate from ArcMap to ArcGIS Pro? Let’s be honest: it requires effort. But rest assured, many customers have already made the switch and found that the benefits vastly outweigh the drawbacks. If you’re still trying to figure out whether the time is right for your organization, consider this: 2020 made us go through so many changes that migrating to a new GIS desktop application in 2021 would be a cinch in comparison. Could 2021 turn out to be the best year ever?

The best thing to do when starting to plan a migration like this is to know what to expect. Learning how ArcGIS Pro is different from ArcMap is key to being prepared. And if you’re prepared, you’ll avoid unwanted surprises once the new environment is in production.

There are a few factors to consider when you’re planning a transition like this:

  • Will our current hardware meet the new software’s system requirements?
  • Are we currently using any custom tools in ArcMap?
  • Do our staff members use any third-party solutions in ArcMap?
  • Do we have a detailed understanding of our most frequently used workflows in ArcMap?

As you can imagine, each organization has different answers to these questions, which makes every transition a little different. If you take the time to plan for your own needs, you’ll come out of the transition process more successful.

Making the switch will absolutely take effort, but the benefits are many. With ArcGIS Pro in production, your organization will:

  • Find efficiencies in this new web-connected environment.
  • Be able to provide users with faster and more streamlined workflows and save time.
  • Enable a new project-based structure, allowing you to organize maps, layouts and scripts more easily than ever.
  • Discover that some workflows are best moved to Web GIS solutions, which can in turn reduce the number of desktop licenses required and grant access to users anywhere, anytime.
  • And more!

Are you still overwhelmed and looking for guidance? Here are a few steps that organizations I‘ve collaborated with recently have followed to achieve a smoother transition.

Step 1: Get Primed

Have your team leads watch our “Getting Started with ArcGIS Pro” video series, then gather their comments, questions and concerns. My colleague Maggie has peppered tips for those migrating from ArcMap throughout the series.

  1. Getting Started with ArcGIS Pro: Installation and Licensing
  2. Getting Started with ArcGIS Pro: Making Data Connections
  3. Getting Started with ArcGIS Pro: Editing your Data
  4. Getting Started with ArcGIS Pro: Building a Layout

Step 2: Get Trained

Register a group of users to our instructor-led course Migrating from ArcMap to ArcGIS Pro. They’ll take a deeper dive into ArcGIS Pro and get their questions answered while working through the new workflows during hands-on exercises.

If you have a small team, everyone should complete as much of this course together as they can. This way, they’ll be able to collaborate on the transition equipped with a better understanding of ArcGIS Pro.

For medium and large teams, consider choosing power users from each group to complete this course, with a focus on looking at the migration through the lens of your organization. This should help identify things that could be harder to change or items that could go wrong in the initial steps in advance.

Step 3: Get Together

Regroup after the training to discuss potential issues as well as the benefits of transitioning to ArcGIS Pro.

Highlighting the benefits and using a positive outlook in your communications will help you better prepare other users for the change ahead.

Document the potential issues that have been identified, then address them and find solutions or workarounds. This could include doing some additional testing, upgrading scripts, re-evaluating existing workflows and redeveloping tools.

If you run into unanswered questions, prioritize them and contact your Esri Canada representative to figure out the best path forward.

Step 4: Get Moving

Once you know how to address your organization’s concerns, work at resolving them to get closer to your move to ArcGIS Pro.

If there are only minor concerns that can be easily resolved and all checklist items are good to go, you’re ready to move ArcGIS Pro to production.

At this point, it’s best to have your production users take our Migrating from ArcMap to ArcGIS Pro course too, but not for the same purpose the power users previously completed it for. The focus for production users for this step should be to learn how to efficiently use ArcGIS Pro in their day-to-day and get comfortable completing popular workflows in this environment.

If your concerns will require time and effort to resolve, adjust your transition plan, but keep the team moving toward a solution either on their own or with the support of our specialists. Tip: Consider the value of your staff’s time in the equation.

Bonus Step: Get Extra Help

Some key users might not be able to transition as efficiently as others because too many advanced details may be missing for them to see the path forward. For those users, consider having them take other training courses using ArcGIS Pro. They’ll be able to get started with confidence thanks to having an instructor walk them through the new streamlined way of editing features, the advanced mapping tools that will allow them to add complex annotations and meet standard requirements, and the new Python version required for scripts to run successfully in ArcGIS Pro. Consider the following courses:

It’s not a perfect science, but it if you adapt this step-by-step method for your own needs, it will do the trick!

One last important note: ArcMap can stay available for users until they are fully comfortable with ArcGIS Pro, so give your staff time to adapt. It will come naturally. As newly proficient ArcGIS Pro users have told me many times, they’ll never look back at ArcMap.

This post was translated to French and can be viewed here.

About the Author

Carole Arseneau is a Sales Representative at Esri Canada. She advises customers from all industries on how to use GIS technology to be more efficient in their daily workflows. Carole holds a GIS certificate from Florida State College in Jacksonville and a Bachelor degree in Kinesiology from Laval University in Québec City. Being by the water has always made her feel at home and has given her inspiration to keep a positive outlook in life.

Profile Photo of Carole Arseneau