Key issues related to data migration

Data migration is one of the aspects of each major IT project. Successful data migration requires planning and the execution of a number of significant steps. There is actually a common consensus regarding the importance of data migration, since without it (particularly data known as basic data) registration of transactions is not possible and the system cannot go live. This raises the question of why, then, is data migration often a source of so many problems in a project and how can these problems be prevented.

Hicron’s project experience shows that the following critical aspects must be taken into account:

1. Correct assessment of the migration (a reviewed, reliable list of all objects subject to migration)

The first step which must be taken when migrating data to a new system is to define their scope and design adequate structures for them. The data in question concern the business operations of the entire organization, including the product index, customer data and formulas, but also the standards the business conforms with, delivery dates, order sizing parameters, transport requirements and much more. It is of crucial importance to identify all business areas from which data have to be extracted and transferred to the new system.

2. Responsibility for migrated data categories; supervision and coordination of work

Preparing data for migration is one of the most time-consuming and labor-intensive stages of any system implementation. However, successful data migration is a precondition for the success of most of the following stages of the project, so the utmost care is recommended when preparing data. The responsibility for preparing data for migration rests mainly with the company employees. When delegating people for the job, attention should be paid to their competence in the respective areas, and the most experienced and knowledgeable people should always be chosen. Furthermore, the complex interrelations between the pieces of data need to be taken into account, as well as the fact that some data are used in more than one area, which must be addressed when preparing the breakdown of responsibilities for data preparation.

3. Proper time management

While preparing data, it is worth testing their quality and coherence in the original application by conducting tests of the business processes on the migrated data in the test system. In this way it is possible to check whether the data are well prepared, sufficiently detailed and accurate, in order to be able to make the potential corrections while the data is still in the original application. This approach can prevent the need for last-minute data cleansing or even prevent the migration of incorrect data to the target system. Incomplete or inaccurate data preparation may lead to delays in the project start or cause problems during the system implementation.

4. Preparation and migration of data – do it yourself or get support?

It is often the case that consultants are not engaged in the initial stages of implementation work, due to the assumption that company employees have better knowledge of the databases and original applications and can manage to do the job on their own. In the case of more complex projects, however, involving experienced consultants with good knowledge of the target system is worth considering. The benefit is a reduced workload for the company employees and a faster migration process which translates into a timely start of the system. Such an approach also ensures the quality and accuracy of the data migration process.

5. Excel is not enough: tools supporting data migration

Prior to selecting an implementation partner, it is a good idea to find out what kind of tools supporting data migration the prospective partner offers. In large-scale complex projects, when the repository of data transferred to the new system is from several years of the company’s operations, data migration tools will be very useful. This is especially true for large companies with multiple locations and a complex organizational structure. Excel will not do. Properly structured formulas which eliminate data duplication, ensure the refinement and cleansing of data on a daily basis, allow for saving and validating the data prior to their transfer to the target application and enable reversal of migrated records, will speed up and simplify the process of data preparation for the implementation project.

6. Test data migration during acceptance testing – “spontaneous” migration is unacceptable!

After populating the system with migrated data we cannot go live immediately. Acceptance testing of the solution is required. It is the last chance to introduce the potential corrections. By executing an appropriate number of the company’s business processes in the new system prior to its production start, we will be assured that the system functions properly, is correctly configured and there are no errors during the process execution. An ideal solution is to involve at this stage the key personnel members from the respective business areas who will assess the system performance and identify the potential non-conformances

7. Migration according to the procedures

A well run project is a project in which there is no room for “spontaneous” migration, without prior tests and predefined procedures. The success of the entire project is, to a high extent, conditional on the stage preceding the proper implementation – data migration. With a properly designed action plan, we increase the chances for timely completion of the project and eliminate the possibility of potential errors during the configuration process.

Hicron consultants have extensive experience in data migration, acquired during the execution of over 200 implementation projects. In some of the projects, Hicron experts were responsible for the management and/or execution of complex data migration tasks. On the basis of the implementation experience gained during several years of consultancy work, Hicron developed its own data migration methodology (which forms part of the overall Hicron Consulting Implementation Methodology), as well as tools facilitating the migration process.

The data migration services offered by Hicron include: 
– Development of data migration concepts 
– Design and execution of tools supporting the migration of complex objects 
– Supervision over the quality and security of implemented migration processes 
– Overall delivery of complex data migration project