What is ERP data migration?
It is the process of moving all a company’s data into a new system.
An ERP system runs across your operations and includes a plethora of customer information, sales orders, invoices, financial reports and staff information for human resources. On the surface, data migration sounds simple; it transfers data from point A to point B. But the process can be arduous, requiring a methodical and systematic approach to guarantee success.
Before implementing a new ERP system, businesses must realize that they will have stored critical information in several different databases. For example, you may already be running a CRM and a human resources package alongside your accounting software. In addition, don’t forget the other data sources, including spreadsheets and paper-based information. In an ERP migration process, all diverse data will need to be fed into your new system, ensuring no duplicates and that the data is accurate and uniformly formatted.
Breaking Data Migration Down
When implementing a new ERP system in an organization, having a data migration plan is vital. This plan helps you define what data is needed, where and when & how to bring it in. As an example, before master records are transferred into the new system, it is time to clean up the data (define a new structure, remove duplicates, combine records and or not bring in old or inactive records). From the General Ledger perspective, migrations are usually summarized as monthly net changes as far back as Financial Reporting requirements are needed. At the same time, Subledger transactions are based on open transactions (outstanding Invoices, Purchase Orders, etc.) at the time of Go Live during Cutover.
It is best to finalize reporting requirements first and then look at bringing in the data to match what is required. This is critical when planning for data migration into the new ERP System.
The purpose is to ensure a centralized data hub within the system, from which every department and business function can access required assets.
Key Challenges in ERP Data Migration
Time is of the essence. The central objective of a data migration project is to transfer accurate data into your new system on time to avoid delaying the deployment of your new ERP system. It needs to be planned, and if designed well, you will also have the opportunity to clear up your data by deleting outdated or disused data. However, there are challenges that you may come across, of which you need to be mindful.
The primary objective of data migration, then, is to mitigate the chance of data errors, inaccuracies and data pain points causing harm to the new ERP system after the go-live date. Indeed, there are four guiding principles to bear in mind when carrying out a data migration project, including:
- Accuracy – is the data valid to the best of your knowledge? Is any work required, pre-importing, to remove inaccuracies and ensure that data sets are accurate and up to date?
- Consistency – are your data sets consistent, coherent and reliable? What steps are required to ensure that data sets from different departments remain consistent, forming a unified database?
- Validity – is the data credible, usable and of value? And does it conform to up-to-date regulations, particularly in terms of privacy?
- Completeness – are your data sets complete, or is critical information missing? Consider how this might affect the new system and the practical means of missing sourcing data.
When you’ve formalized a data inspection strategy, it’s time to draw up a clear plan of how the data will be extracted, cleansed and imported onto the new ERP system. This procedure is perhaps the most crucial part of the planning process, detailing exactly how the data will migrate from A to B.
Data Synchronization with a New System
The biggest challenge is keeping the data synchronized. Because data is constantly changing, there is always the potential for errors. To guarantee data synchronization, it is essential to have a robust and well-tested migration plan in place. To ensure that data will load into the new system properly, a recommended procedure is to test a small amount of data and then gradually increase the frequency and amount of data until the migration is complete. This method will allow troubleshooting and fixing problems before going live on the software. Having key software users simulate their daily business processes and running rigorous testing on the system is key to catching issues and solving them early.
Ahead of the ERP implementation go-live date, a period of testing is crucial in ensuring complete accuracy, consistency, validity and completeness across your migrated data sets. This is the time to iron out any issues before the system goes live, so a thorough testing plan is needed to steer this critical part of the process.
Managing Expectations with Clear Communication
Data migration is not a simple task. Users must be aware that they may experience downtime or disruptions to their usual workflow during the migration process. There is no way to predict everything, and there are always unforeseen challenges and obstacles that can challenge even the most experienced IT team. However, the one challenge that stands out above all others is how to manage user expectations during and after the migration process.
ERP implementations are synonymous with change and disruption. Users have to learn new software, adapt to new processes, and sometimes even change how they do their jobs. With good communication and setting realistic timelines, you can successfully manage expectations. All senior stakeholders in an organization must have bought into the data migration to ensure that you can resolve internal differences quickly and easily. It is not unusual for departments to enter their data into a system differently, so you need one consistent data capture method. Make sure that everyone collaborates and agrees on the single, uniform data format. If all these situations are planned for and taken care of, you will be able to give your team a realistic timeline for the completion of the migration and when they can expect to see the benefits of the new system.
Data migration is an integral part of any successful ERP implementation. However, these challenges can make data migration problematic and demanding for businesses.
Remember, with a solid plan; you can make sure you succeed. Our team at the BHC Group is here to walk you through every step of your ERP implementation roadmap.
Contact one of our support specialists to begin your ERP journey to a more successful business.