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Feb. 18, 2024

A Comprehensive Guide to ERP Data Migration

Ziv Benzvi

A Comprehensive Guide to ERP Data Migration

If you’re looking to turn a few heads and maybe even raise a few eyebrows, just try migrating from an older software to a new enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution. It’s guaranteed to draw a crowd, from your front door down to your production line, probably running right through your entire supply chain.

So, what’s all the fuss about? An ERP data migration plan continues to challenge even the brightest tech-savvy business leaders and their organization. Once you’ve set your sights on a new ERP system, data migration can be the single most dramatic event in the implementation process, where every corner of your company is affected in one way or another.

The trick is to join forces, work together, and design and implement a master data migration plan avoiding the insurmountable challenges and pitfalls that can occur. Never has there been a time to be more prepared than the weeks and months that lead up to data migration.

The transfer of data from one storage type, format, or previous computer system to the new ERP solution can be the most time-consuming and risky of all implementation activities. Not only is there a high likelihood of errors, but each mistake can cause a significant negative impact on the business, such as costly downtime, diminished end-user productivity, and the loss of important data.

However, having a well-defined data migration approach ensures you’ll keep to the implementation timeline, avoid costly budget overruns, and go live with reliable data.

What Is ERP Data Migration?

ERP data migration is the process of transferring existing business data from a wide range of systems, format types, and devices, from an organization's existing systems and applications to a new ERP platform.

The purpose behind this transfer is to ensure seamless integration into the new system while maintaining business continuity.

The complexity and scope of an ERP data migration depend on several factors such as the size of your organization's dataset, differences between source and target systems in terms of structure and format, or even regulations governing your industry. Consequently, it requires meticulous planning along with constant monitoring at each stage for successful completion.

Most companies use multiple software tools for different operational processes, such as accounting, HR, marketing, and customer service, to name just a few.

During the migration process, data from all of these departments will be transferred to a single ERP system while ensuring there are no duplicate entries, errors, or redundancies.

During this process emphasis must be placed on preserving data integrity so that all critical information remains accurate after being transferred into the new environment, and security measures should also be implemented throughout all stages due diligence is maintained when handling sensitive company information.

Ultimately a well-executed ERP Data Migration plays a vital role in ensuring that your newly implemented system functions at its full potential.

Why Is Data Migration Important for ERP Implementation?

ERP systems are the backbone of an organization's digital infrastructure, consolidating diverse functions like finance, HR, and inventory management into a unified platform.

To ensure the ERP system operates seamlessly, data from various legacy systems must be transferred, transformed, and integrated.

This process not only enables organizations to maintain historical data continuity but also ensures that the new ERP system functions effectively by leveraging accurate and up-to-date information. Essentially, data migration is the bridge that connects the past with the future.

Firstly, accurate and well-organized data is vital for any business operation, so, an effective data migration process ensures that you have access to complete and reliable information once your new ERP system goes live.

Secondly, efficient data transfer minimizes disruptions during implementation by reducing downtime and mitigating risks associated with lost or corrupted information. Proper planning reduces errors in moving large volumes of critical company records into the new system while also maintaining consistency throughout different stages of integration.

Thirdly, for some industries, a successful data migration lies within compliance requirements - proper handling during this phase can help meet necessary regulations surrounding sensitive customer details or financial transactions within specific industries such as healthcare or banking sectors.

Lastly is user adoption; having clean accessible enterprise-wide information available makes it easier for employees to trust in their newly implemented tools—leading them more likely to adapt quickly.

Important tips before migrating your ERP data

Before diving into the data migration process, meticulous planning and preparation are essential. Here are the most important tips to keep in mind before beginning the migration project.

  • It’s not necessary to migrate all of your data. Now is the time to delete what’s no longer relevant, and free up some much-needed space.
  • Deploy a team that’ll be responsible for migrating your data. Ideally, the team should be comprised of in-house employees or management who understand your organizational structure, your business needs, your old database, and your technical goals. Each person and stakeholder involved should have a defined role in the ongoing process.
  • Make data migration a priority during your ERP system implementation. It’s recommended that organizations audit their existing databases while making a decision on which ERP system to purchase.
  • Research compliance issues and regulatory requirements before making attempts to move your data. HIPAA, GDPR, and other relevant regulatory bodies stipulate their own rules, so ensure that they’re adhered to.
  • Perform an external audit of your ERP system functions once your data has been moved. You can audit your ERP system while keeping your data safe and secure.

5 Key Steps For A Successful ERP Data Migration

The successful transfer of data from an old system to a new one ensures continuity and minimizes disruptions. Here are the five key steps to help you streamline the process and execute a successful ERP data migration plan.

Step 1: Planning the Migration

The first step in planning your migration should be analyzing your current system's strengths and weaknesses. Take stock of existing processes that need improvement or elimination in the new ERP system. This evaluation helps you determine which aspects of your current workflow are ideal candidates for automation or streamlining with an ERP solution.

Next up on your planning agenda should be defining goals for each phase of migration - pre-migration assessment (data cleansing), testing (verifying accuracy), execution (moving records), stabilization post-migration support activities (training users).

Things may have started out perfectly when the legacy ERP system was first installed, but it’s more than likely that data inconsistencies and data duplication were introduced over time. You certainly want to check to see if there are any data fields that need to be changed or added and remove any redundant data.

Your company’s business and validation rules may have also changed since the original system was implemented, so now is the time to make sure that the business rules are current and any questions or disputed processes are ironed out.

Another critical aspect when developing an ERP data migration plan is establishing strict deadlines for completing tasks within each phase – ensuring everyone stays focused on meeting project milestones while avoiding costly delays due to incomplete or inaccurate information transfer between systems.

Lastly, prepare detailed documentation outlining every procedural detail relevant to executing successful migrations – including what specific actions need undertaking at individual stages across all departments impacted by changeover events like cutover weekend go-live date when old systems get switched off permanently replaced new ones take over handling day-to-day operational transactions-related activities company-wide level.

Step 2. Verify all points of integration

Cross-object dependencies often are not discovered until very late in the migration process. A complex project can have dozens of different data fields coming in from different applications.

Discovering sources of data that are required to update or validate data late in the process can throw off your migration timeline. This is why it’s important to identify them ahead of time and make sure they’re all primed and ready for the new system.

For instance, if two systems communicate using different file formats or protocols, it may require customizations in order for them to interact effectively after implementation.

Keep track of these potential changes as they can impact timelines and costs associated with your migration project.

Step 3. Migrate only the data you need

Moving only your necessary data to the new system will save time, effort, resources, and reduce complexity. Keep in mind that you don’t have to migrate everything and you don’t have to do it all at the same time.

The less data you migrate, the fewer problems you’ll encounter. The result? Your data migration will be easier.

As part of your planning, make sure your department heads and other senior managers are all part of the data migration conversation as they all need to know what’s needed and what’s not.

Transferring superfluous data only complicates the integration and slows the development process, leading to an unplanned increase in requirements or scope creep.

In some cases where extensive cleaning is required due to complex legacy systems or poor quality control measures in place previously, consider using specialized software tools designed specifically for these purposes – they can help automate portions of this task significantly reducing manual effort involved. Or reach out to an experienced ERP partner to handle the complexities involved in moving this data.

Step 4. Have a detailed mapping Plan

It’s important to have a comprehensive picture of all the data from one system that needs to flow into another system while making sure that data definitions are consistent.

Create a comprehensive list of all the different types of data elements you need to migrate from your legacy system – including master records (e.g., customers, vendors), transactional records (e.g., invoices, purchase orders), historical information (e.g., sales history), and configurations/settings. For each element on this list, determine if it needs any transformation before being imported into the new system or if it can be directly migrated without modifications.

Look for incompatible data formats. For example, a field that should only contain a numeric value may allow alpha characters, which can cause fatal errors. One system might store dates in YYYYMMDD format, while the other system may use MMDDYY.

Always include validation and error handling to prevent these types of problems from causing software defects.

Step 5. Test early and test often

You really need to make sure that you’re validating and testing throughout the data migration process.

Before you go live, a good way of ensuring everything goes smoothly, is to test small amounts of data in your system, gradually increasing the amount until the entire project is complete.

This will allow you to spot any problems as and when they appear. Having users validate that the data is complete and accurate is very important. The individuals who sign off on the data should be the same individuals who consume the data.

Finally, once you’ve migrated, make sure you can view, access, and manipulate ‘live’ data, to ensure that all of your company’s has been transferred successfully.

When taking the right precautions, data migration presents organizations with an opportunity to improve data integrity and their overall business processes.

Taking the time upfront to optimize every state of order fulfillment as part of your data migration process, is the best way to prevent ERP data migration plan disasters – and to secure… the real-deal.

Migrate data safely and securely with Priority Software

Data migration can seem like a daunting task even for large size organizations. It is, however the most critical and important step when implementing a new ERP system, as it involves both risks and responsibilities.

However, these risks can be mitigated by assigning a dedicated data migration team to audit your existing data. After having decided what needs to be migrated, it’s relatively easy to cleanse and extract data, and import it into your new ERP system.

A successful data migration strategy requires careful planning and execution and should include a comprehensive assessment of the data to be migrated, the development of a timeline and plan of action, the identification of any potential risks, the implementation of best practices to ensure data integrity, and the testing of the migration process to ensure a successful transition.

Once all your data has been imported, it makes sense to hire an external team or ERP partner to audit your overall ERP performance.

For more insights into making a smooth, hassle-free ERP data migration, contact us for a no-obligation call with one of our ERP implementation experts.

The Author

Ziv Benzvi

Chief Revenue Officer (CRO) - Priority Software

Ziv stepped into Priority as the Chief Revenue Officer (CRO) in 2022, overseeing the company's global business operations. With a rich international background, he has spent over 16 years in the US, India, and Thailand. Prior to joining Priority, Ziv held senior leadership roles at Ex Libris (NASDAQ: CLVT) and NICE Systems (NASDAQ: NICE), as well as various sales management positions at Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI). Additionally, Ziv is a former certified attorney with a law degree from the University of Newcastle, England.