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ERP Implementation Tip #21: Data Migration | Key Concepts

ERP Implementation Tip #21: Data Migration | Key Concepts

Before defining some of the key concepts, let me offer a recent real-world example of some of the problems that can result from improper data migration during an ERP implementation.

At the end of 2009, Canadian airline Westjet learned first-hand how data migration problems can cripple operations.  In this case, Westjet failed to properly migrate some 840,000 customer transactions as it cutover to its new CRM and online reservations systems.  Consequently, its online booking system repeatedly crashed upon launch.  These crashes led to an unanticipated and unmanageable flooding of Westjet’s call centers.  In fact, four months after the cutover nightmare, call center wait times had still not been reduced to pre-cutover levels.  Further, Westjet estimated that it would need six months to repair all of the damage.  The irony of the story is that the problems occurred in the context of a new system that was intended to improve Westjet’s customer service and reservations processes.

To avoid problems like the ones suffered by Westjet and many others, the implementing organization needs to execute on an actionable data migration plan that deals with the following: data cleansing, data conversion, static data migration and dynamic data migration. Here’s a brief explanation of each of these concepts.

  • Data Cleansing: Good, clean data is non-negotiable.  Data errors and redundancies introduce risks of operational and reporting problems and must be eliminated. Data can be cleansed in any of the three following ways: in the legacy IT or ERP system, in an intermediate format (e.g. Excel), and in the new IT or ERP application.
  • Data Conversion: Data has to be formatted to meet the standards of the new system. Conversion can be done manually or by an automated program. If an automated program is used, the programmers need to make sure that the reformatted data records do not jeopardize file system integrity.
  • Static Data Migration: Static data changes infrequently. Examples include engineering master files and price books. Given the stability of this type of data, it should be migrated early on so that the later focus can be placed on the more challenging task of dynamic data migration.
  • Dynamic Data Migration: Dynamic data refers to volatile data.  Examples include shop work orders and accounts receivable open items.  Given the changeable nature of this type of data, it should be migrated as late as possible.  Late migration helps ensure that the new system includes the most up-to-date data.  Transferring changing data — particularly when changes occur during cutover — is both difficult and risky.

With the data migration concepts under our belt, we’re ready to develop a migration plan-of-attack.  In next week’s ERP implementation tip, we will lay out our “Milestone Deliverables” methodology for creating a staged migration plan. We would also like to highlight some of the strategies that you have used to migrate data.

Remember: if you have any questions about data migration in particular or on your ERP implementation project in general, feel free to contact our ERP experts.  We’re happy to help.

Good luck with your ERP implementation projects!

Your POV

  • What data migration strategies have you found to be effective?
  • How have data migration issues hurt your organization?
  • What was the biggest impediment to successfully executing your data migration strategy?

In this series of weekly ERP project management tips, we walk you through an ERP implementation project using Pemeco’s “Milestone Deliverables” project management methodology.

You can buy our project management book and CD of template forms “Milestone Deliverables: The Hands-On Approach to Implementing ERP Projects” here.

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