Part 1 – The importance of having a data migration strategy

By - October 6, 2015

You have done the planning met with your stakeholders, written requirements, produced test cases, and collaboratively designed the interface. Then, out of nowhere you find that the data from the old system refuses to fit neatly into your new system. Your project that has been going so well just plunged into chaos but why did this happen?

Data migration is often an overlooked component of an IT project that involves moving from an old system to a new system. There can be many people involved in discovering the new business requirements or in designing a new interface. The data migration task tends to be forgotten about or delegated to one person (typically a more junior member of the team or worse – the only technical person on the team). The perceived simplicity of data migration leads many to think that data migration can be separated from the main body of tasks needed to deliver the system – or worse ends up as a single line item on the project plan.

This impression that the data migration task is small in scale typically leads to scheduling the data migration near the end of the project rather than throughout the project. Unfortunately, leaving the migration analysis until later or not understanding the full implications can have fairly devastating results. The project can wind up running late and the budget is blown. This then results in the new system starting with bad data from the old system or no data at all. The old system may need to keep running for longer than intended and costs balloon as two systems are maintained to do the same job – not to mention end user frustrations and confusion. This can cause the new system to never meet its success criteria because of this one oversight, that could have been mitigated.

There is no substitute for a structured plan to reduce the risk of problems occurring during a data migration. By adopting and following a best practice data migration planning and strategy approach on all systems projects to maximize quality, time to deliver, and effective communication. Taking the time to review these details as part of the design and planning will ensure that you have identified risk, understood technical details, and resourced and established realistic timelines. Most importantly, it will ensure that data considered an equal component and whether a complex ETL tool is required or a simple spreadsheet, you will optimize a project launch that goes smooth and meets customer expectations.

In part two of my post, I will review the I.D.E.A.L methodology considerations that you should consider moving forward in your data migration project. To find out more about this or other ways that McGladrey can assist you with your business needs, contact McGladrey’s management consulting professionals at 800.274.3978 or email us.


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