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Should I migrate? 6 ERP Data Migration Considerations

Posted by Bob Kottmeier on May 20, 2013

When evaluating a CRM or ERP system, one of the considerations in the sales process should be the data migration effort required. In addition to the price of the ERP software and consulting costs, the cost of a data migration is yet another element to consider when moving from one application to another.  When asking yourself, should I migrate my existing data to my new database, consider the following six points:

  • Full Sail Partners Migration Process, Should I Migrate, Data Migration, Deltek Vision ConversionHow valuable is the data? You may assume that all of your existing data is valid and valuable, but many times the data that needs to be migrated hasn’t been updated in quite a while, and therefore may not be accurate. For financial data this is rarely the case. However, not all of the data in an application may have been maintained on a regular basis. This is especially true for CRM data. When considering whether to bring over data to the new system, consider these four questions:
    1. Is the data frequently updated and is it accurate?
    2. How often is the data accessed/needed?
    3. Do you use the data in reports?
    4. Do you need the data to make business decisions

If your answer to these questions is rarely or never, then the data is probably not worth migrating to the new system.

  • How organized is the data? In order to migrate the data to the new system, the data must be structured such that it can be extracted in an organized way from the existing system.   Additionally, some existing data that is being considered for migration may not be consistent across a given data field in a database record.  Take for example, a field that should have only numeric values in it. If in the existing system the field allows for free form entry, and some data records have text or other non-numeric values in the record, this will require further clean-up of the data in order to migrate this field of data to the new system.  So, evaluating the amount of manual clean-up required can help determine if the information is worth migrating.
  • How long would it take someone to manually enter the data? As the previous question alluded to, some data is best entered manually in the new system. In addition to evaluating the integrity of the data, you can determine whether to convert certain fields in a data record by evaluating the number of records that have data in the field.  If a given field only has 50 data records values, is it worth the expense to migrate it to the new system programmatically?  On the other hand, the length of time for an implementation is extended when a firm underestimates the time and effort it will take to manually enter the data. When a firm decides to pass on a data migration that is recommended by the analysis of the data, our experience has shown that the success of an implementation goes down dramatically.

  • Is a conversion utility available for my data? During the decision process of purchasing and implementing an ERP, it’s important to understand if the data migration can be done with an existing conversion utility. When an existing conversion utility is available, the cost of your data migration can be dramatically reduced.

  • What is the data migration vendor’s migration process? Make sure the vendor that is performing the data migration has a proven methodology that addresses preservation, security, and speed of migrating your business data. Take the time to talk with the vendor to understand their data migration process flow. As an example, below is Full Sail Partner’s migration methodology:
    1. Data Mapping/Assessment – Define scope, migration strategy/approach, and desired schedule. A proposal will be issued outlining the cost.
    2. Data Cleansing – During mapping, we will identify data that needs cleansing. Data will be cleaned up and structured wherever possible in the current system in preparation for migration to new system. The data migration expert will also perform data analysis on existing data, and will ask questions to determine the data quality in the existing system. Modifying source data in the existing system increases the success of automated data conversion to the new system.
    3. Test Migration – After all scripts are created and data is confirmed with the client, a test database will be provided.
    4. Migration Validation – After the delivery of the database, the client will review the data in the new system to confirm it came across the way they anticipated.
    5. Final Migration – Once the data is verified, a final migration date is set. Typically, all data is backed-up on a Friday, the data migration occurs over the weekend and the new database is ready to restore on Monday.  This reduces down time between final processing in the old system and starting processing in the new system.
    6. Post Migration – If necessary, occasional post migration data updates may be needed if data issues that were not identified by the client pre final data migration are identified by the client after the final migration.

  • How experienced is the migration expert?  Most data migrations require a mapping document. This defines the scope and ensures that the data will be imported correctly.   An experienced data migration consultant provides this mapping document as well as valuable insight on potential issues that might occur during the data migration process.  Before moving forward with a data migration, find out what the data migration expert does for the firm.   Is their primary role at the firm migrating data, or do they do many things at the firm?  Do they have experience migrating data that is similar to the data that is at your site?  A seasoned data migration expert tends to focus on data migrations almost exclusively.  Choosing the right data migration expert can help reduce clean up on the back end and will make certain the data is converted properly.    

In many cases, migrating data is a must when implementing a new system. However, in those instances that are less apparent, we hope these six tips help your firm address the question: “Should I migrate my data?”  For further articles on this topic, be sure to view our past article on how to clean-up data.

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