When you implement a new ERP solution, you need to ensure that you migrate all your data to the new system. This can present a challenge, because you may need to move data from several different sources, making certain that it is all correct.
About ERP Data Migration
ERP data migration is the process of moving all your company’s data into the new system. Because an ERP system runs across your operations, this will include data such as: customer information, sales orders, invoices, financial reports, staff information human resources
Operationally, other aspects can apply, according to the type of business you run. If you run a warehouse selling physical stock, data to be migrated will include SKUs, stock levels and specific detail about the goods you hold, perhaps weights and sizes, or batch numbers. If you’re a professional services company, you’ll want to migrate data about your billable staff and their clients, past timesheet information
Before employing a new ERP system, this information will be held in several different databases. Maybe you are already running a CRM and a human resources package alongside your accounting software, for example. Then there are other sources of data, like spreadsheets, and perhaps even other, non-digital sources, like paper-based information.
All this disparate data needs to be fed into your new system, taking care to ensure nothing is duplicated and that all the data is accurate, formatted uniformly and is not duplicated.
Data Migration Steps
The key steps in ensuing that data migration is successful need to be methodically undertaken. Firstly, you need to carry out a detailed audit of all the data in your company so that you can plan the process. Then, when it comes to the migration, for each data source, you need to inspect and assess the information to check for suitability and to decide how it needs to be handled. Then, you extract the data, clean and deduplicate it, before converting or reformatting it in preparation for importing it into the new ERP system.
To efficiently carry out a data migration programme, you need to incorporate these steps into a detailed plan. It’s important to get stakeholder buy-in, so that all those affected, from right across your business, can have an input and involvement. You will also want to create a team to drive the project and to implement the data migration, so that it is carried out effectively and on time, and that the results can be assessed and validated.
The Challenges of Data Migration
A primary objective of a data migration project is to get accurate data into your new system, in a timely way so as not to delay the deployment of your new ERP system. If you plan this well, you will also have the opportunity to clear up your data, deleting out-dated or disused data. But there are challenges that you may come across, and which you need to be mindful about.
- Resources. It takes time, money, people and knowledge to run an effective data migration project. You need to make sure all these are available so that your data migration does not hold up your ERP implementation. You will want to allocate enough budget to guarantee that your data is adequately extracted, cleaned and rationalised. ERP Focus warns that even simply moving data from one system to another – without restructuring it – can increase the total ERP implementation costs involved by 10–15%.
- Data integrity. Different parts of your business may each maintain records on your customers and your products or services. So, there are probably duplicated records, with fields that are categorised and formatted very differently, and they will be held in different databases or applications. You cannot simply import all the data from all your different sources. Not only do you need to make this data identical in format, but you must also check that the data corresponds for each record. For example, the sales department may hold a mobile phone number for a purchasing contact at your customer, while finance holds the landline number for a different contact in the accounts department. These are both valid, so one cannot replace the other during your migration; they would need to be merged and correctly categorised.
- Senior management agreement. Your board colleagues each have their own responsibilities, and data migration will probably not feature in their priority list. But you need to ensure that all the senior stakeholders in the company are bought in to the data migration, so that any internal differences can be readily resolved. With departments used to entering their data differently, one consistent method will be needed, so ensuring everyone collaborates and agrees on the single, consistent format of the data.
- Regulatory aspects. There are many different regulations that will have a bearing on how you store and process the data you hold. UK companies need to be mindful not only of national laws, such as GDPR, but also international ones if they trade with overseas customers or suppliers. Different regulations will apply depending on your industry too. You need to ensure compliance with all applicable legislation.
These challenges can make data migration problematic and demanding for businesses when they plan to implement a new ERP system.
But with a solid plan, you can ensure you succeed. In a future blog, we’ll look at some best practices you can employ to help you with your data migration, as well as giving you some tips and steps to follow to build a robust data migration strategy.
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