Establishing sound foundations for Data Migration

Moving data from one system to another is easy, moving it so that your business can continue to operate and exploit your investment is harder. My experience from the high tech, manufacturing, supply chain and government sectors has made me passionate about the importance of data migration and getting it right.

Whether its investing in a new ERP suite like S/4 Hana or modernising a supply chain business, the challenges are similar. Unless the data migration activity is successful your investment will be blighted by the data problems you’re probably trying to eliminate. Today, more than ever, “Garbage In, Garbage Out” is still relevant! And don’t forget you also need to know what you are going to do with the data you are not migrating.

When starting a programme that involves data migration it is essential to lay sound foundations, otherwise you risk lengthy delays, failure and your investment.


It’s your data

The starting point I most often encounter is where a business assumes it can outsource data migration along with the technology; this is wrong:

  • Only you own, know and understand your data
  • Only you understand how your business relies on the data
  • Only you know where your data “skeletons” lie buried. I’ve seen FD’s who have been faced with material write-offs during the actual cutover because they discovered that their assets did not match those recorded on their balance sheet
  • Only you know the “off system” information that you need to run your business.

Not only this, but your data will probably be spread across multiple legacy systems, have been allowed to degrade or become choked over years. In the manufacturing sector I’ve seen a business that had never archived its records, rather allowed them to accumulate over time. Working out which records to migrate became an enormous task for them, made worse by the fact that the department doing the work was not benefiting from the investment. The answer required as much political capital as practical work.


Expect to be involved

 Data migration is often seen as secondary to the day job and dull; after all who likes cleaning data? However, you need to remember that your data is the lifeblood of your business and needs to be afforded the right focus and a high priority.

Have you thought about who you are going to trust to lead your data migration and what you need to do to make them successful? One of my supply chain customers recognised the data migration imperative, committed their A-team full time, back filling them for the duration. This was a successful strategy.

Often there are financial, regulatory or compliance requirements that mean that any changes to the data must be controlled and auditable. Have you thought about who you need to involve? On my last programme in the manufacturing sector, we involved the Financial Auditors and GDPR compliance teams from the beginning.


Practice makes for a boring cutover

Plan for many data migration cycles ahead of the dress rehearsal and actual go live. At each cycle improve the data quality and quantity, but don’t just stop there, make sure the right people are involved. You need to know who is making the cutover decisions and what information they need. Don’t miss the opportunity to make the actual cutover a non-event.


Embarking on Data Migration?

If you are considering transformation that involves data migration, or in the mire and require independent guidance, Project One can help. We are able to draw on seasoned experts and knowledge gained from many years of successful selection to get your transformation off to the right start.


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POSTED BY: Chris Wilkes - Consultant


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