Taking the pain out of data migrations

2009-09-01

How to avoid data migrations going off the rails

You don’t have to look far to find evidence that the majority of data migrations fail in some way. Practitioners report statistics such as:

  • 80% of data migration projects fail to meet expectations;
  • 40% experience budget overruns; and
  • 70% are not delivered on time.

Why is the failure rate so high? For the most part it’s because organisations don’t realise the complexity of the task they are undertaking, and therefore don’t engage with the right people. Management often feel it is purely an IT project, and leave IT to it.

Rather, data migration requires a varied number of disciplines. Teams need to have strong project management skills; people skills; an understanding of the business; a strong understanding of data, data issues and migration tools; and an understanding of IT and technical issues.

What can go wrong?

In general, problems can be distilled into three categories: poor planning, poor management and poor execution.

Data migrations are often seen as an easy target on which to pin the wider failings of the project. When users are unhappy with the quality of the data in their application or reports, they frequently blame the migration. If users expectations are managed from day one, and users are involved in the process, there is less chance for the migration taking the blame.

By looking closely at the migration itself, it becomes easier to see why problems arise. Trying to migrate contact data, for example, can be complex. Do both systems adhere to mail standards? Does one system have more address fields than another? Are contacts to be de-duplicated and cleansed in the old system, new system or not at all? And what if field lengths are different? Planning is key!

And then there is information that binds together all the other information – relationships. Information about relationships is vitally important – account ownership, organisation structure, parent companies, related sites, contracts, opportunities, accounting group, for example. How the relationships are held in the applications will likely differ, and so requires careful consideration.

Ensuring a successful data migration

Don’t walk into a data migration blindly. It can seem an uphill struggle, but the only way to achieve a successful data migration is careful planning and extensive testing. At DataConsulting, we know the problems and the pitfalls, and we understand what needs to be done to ensure a successful data migration.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009 In: Hot Topics Comments (None)

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