Planning Pays Off – Tips on How to Mitigate Data Migration Risks

Making the move to a new ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) system can be a positive step for your business. While the upsides of your new system may be attractive, it’s only natural to worry about the security of your data when migrating your data to the new system. You can alleviate much of your concern if you approach the process with a sound strategy. Here are some key elements of your strategy — remember these and your data migration will go smoothly.

“Failing to prepare is preparing to fail.”

– Benjamin Franklin

Make a plan and decide what data is really important

Without a plan, you’ll run the risk of a chaotic data migration. But you shouldn’t begin your planning without making important decisions about what data needs to be migrated to your new system. This is when you need to sit down with your implementation partner and make sure you’re both on the same page about your data.

In particular, decide what critical data for example: core transaction data that needs to be migrated to the new system. While your initial thoughts may be “just move everything,” it’s usually not that simple. For instance, historical transactions, such as Accounts Receivable and Accounts Payable, may involve multiple transactions – write-offs, partial payments, and more. These transactions may be (might have been) recorded in multiple tables and documents as well. Ask your implementation partner how much harder (and expensive) it is going to be to move that data, you may decide it’s not worth the extra time and expense.

“Be able to delegate, because there are some things that you just can’t do by yourself.”
– Meghan Markle

Data governance and Data Czars

A plan for migrating your data is essential, but it’s only part of the picture. To ensure the integrity and security of the data used in your enterprise, it is essential that you have a robust data governance program in place. Data governance will aid the migration process by creating a single set of procedures for how you will manage data during the move and afterwards.

To ensure that these procedures are implemented and applied consistently you need to identify and empower Data Czars.

Each Data Czar should be assigned to specific tables – that ensures that you have a go-to person who is empowered to apply the rules and procedures that have been settled upon for the data migration process. In addition, the Data Czars will operate as a liaison with the business users, ensuring that they are actively engaged in the decision making process. Remember, it’s IT’s job to facilitate the data migration, but the owners of the data must be actively engaged throughout the process to ensure their needs are addressed. Having designated Data Czars will help facilitate communication during the process.

Adopt a step by step philosophy

“Great things are not done by impulse, but by a series of small things brought together.”
– Vincent Van Gogh

Nothing could be worse than toiling away at the data migration process, completing the job, and then finding out that important pieces of data haven’t transferred properly. That’s why the process of data migration should never be thought of as a one-time “moon shot”. “Slow and steady wins the race” may be a cliché, but it’s by far the best policy to follow during the data migration process. Break the job up into small segments and check your process regularly – you’ll save time and minimize errors in the long run.

Prepare your data before you move it

Make source changes in the legacy system prior to starting the migration. For example, if the Chart of Accounts will be changed, make the changes in the “old” system prior to migrating the date to ensure that you have “apples to apples” for validation.

“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.”
– Abraham Lincoln

Have you begun to detect a theme in this advice? It’s very likely you’ll want to make some changes in your processes and systems as part of the migration to your new ERP. Once again, don’t be too hasty. If you decide to make changes in your data tables and charts after the migration, you’ll have a more difficult time being sure that the data you’ve moved is accurate. Make changes in your source material before the migration, then you can make an “apples to apples” validation of your data after migration.

Validate, validate, validate!

Once the data migration process has begun it’s easy to become fixated with the process and forget that the validity of the data you’re migrating is essential for the process to be a success. The best way to ensure that you don’t get caught up in the big picture is to establish a step by step process for validating the data as you proceed.

As the old saying goes, “A stitch in time saves nine.” If you encounter a problem during the migration process it will be much easier to clean up than if you wait until the entire process is completed and then realize you have to redo much of the work. Monitor your progress continually and coordinate closely with your migration partner to ensure a successful migration.

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