4 April 2024

How to be a Superhero in a Dynamics 365 ERP Data Migration Project

Data Migration Hero

A data migration project to Microsoft Dynamics 365 Finance & Supply Chain Management or any ERP from a legacy system directly impacts the success of the ERP implementation. It is a daunting task to take on as there is a lot of risk involved. And if things are rushed, without the right team, budget, solution, and timelines, you can anticipate an unfavorable ERP go-live.  

Imagine that you have turned on the switch to the new ERP in a hurry and the integrity of data is not maintained as testing was not prioritized. You have missing and incorrect data, so incorrect customer invoices are sent out, employees are not paid, and orders are shipped to incorrect addresses. Although this is a hypothetical scenario, this has happened in the past to renowned organizations that were switching ERP systems. Do not make these 9 fatal mistakes during a data migration to D365 F&SCM. 

Once you are aware of what can go wrong in a data migration, it is time to consider some best practices that will help you in your data migration project. In this blog, we share some tried and tested tips from experts that are sure to help you shine in your ERP project implementation. 

Tips to help you plan your data migration better 

1. Assess data quality

Evaluating the scope and quality of data prior to planning for the data migration will give you an inkling of the resources, time, and budget needed for data cleansing. If you try to migrate poor data or data that hasn’t been transformed enough to fit into D365 F&SCM’s business rules, the system will reject the data.  
Additionally, you do not want typos, punctuation errors, incomplete data, and duplicates in your system. Hence adding data quality rules and planning for data validation is very important in a data migration. Ensure you prioritize data cleansing during testing and migration and once the data has been cleaned, add data quality rules for any data creation.  

We also recommend evaluating how data is stored in source systems, and how much historic data needs to be migrated. If you do this on the fly, you might be in for a surprise as you realize that you will need more time, resources, and budget later.  

A solution such as To-Increase's data quality solution can help you identify and address issues early in the migration process. Using the solution, you can configure data quality rules that can assist you in validating data and improving quality even during testing, data migration, and post-migration. 

2. Utilize pre-built templates 

Using solutions that offer pre-built templates to help you map data can help you meet timelines and probably even speed up your data migrations. However, most enterprise-ready solutions will have basic templates that will work for simpler migrations. For more complex scenarios where you might need to migrate data from different legacy systems or databases, you will need to configure or develop templates. Ensure you evaluate and plan for this in your data migration plan.  

3. Data mapping optimization

Every ERP system has different nomenclature. Prior to moving to Dynamics 365, it would help to have functional knowledge of the nomenclature of the ERP. Picking team members for the data migration who have experience in data migrations and understand the differences in nomenclature between D365 F&SCM and the legacy is essential. They can then identify the requirements for data mapping and help the team plan for data mapping between source and target systems. This needs to be done to ensure data fields are accurately matched or else you will not be able to move data into D365 F&SCM as the system will throw an error if the source field and target fields are not appropriately mapped. To-Increase's Data Migration solution offers options for data mapping so that you can map any field or table using transformations, conversions, and default values. 

4. Plan for incremental migration

A lift and shift approach where you shut down the system over a period is a common data migration strategy but puts immense pressure on the team. The data is extracted, transformed, and loaded into the new system within this timeframe and there are targets to meet in order to reduce business loss. However, there is a lot of risk in using such an approach. 

 Therefore, we recommend an incremental migration approach as it is gradual and reduces the risk. For large data sets start with incremental testing and then migration where both the ERP systems run parallelly. This way there is less risk of downtime and disruptions in business. Using incremental testing, you can spot data errors, mapping issues, and confidently migrate data when you are ready to move to the new system. However, ensure you check for data duplicates and data quality and share a cutoff date for entering data into the legacy system with the organization. 

 To-Increase's Data Migration Solution supports incremental testing, allowing you to migrate data and increase the data load to the system’s full capacity. Our solution blocks data from testing showing up in the production environment so that you can run tests with ease. Also, if there are errors, the migration resumes from the point of error instead of running the entire import again. 

5. Data validation and error handling

If you have a data governance policy followed by the organization, it will be easier to implement robust data validation processes that guarantee accuracy.  Data needs to be checked for all the data dimensions which are consistency, accuracy, completeness, integrity, timeliness, and validity. 

For example, do you have people entering the complete addresses for customers that have been validated by the customer or an external party? Are there any rules and data validations for email addresses, phone numbers, and financial details? Do you have guidelines for archiving and deleting data? Thinking about this and implementing processes for data cleansing and validation will help in improving data quality in your new ERP system.

To-Increase’s data quality solution allows you to set up rules to clean and validate data by connecting to external web services. 

6. Collaborate with stakeholders

Involve key stakeholders across departments early in the process. Ensure all of them understand their roles and responsibilities and set timelines for each stage. Involve the subject matter experts (SMEs) in data assessments so that decisions about which data needs to be migrated or discarded can be decided early on. Plan and schedule training for your stakeholders so that you can get them involved in the data mapping process.  

Understanding the challenges and issues will also help you plan better and navigate those during the data migration process. This ensures that all operational needs and business visibility requirements are met.  

Using To-Increase's Data Migration Solution, you can map and validate data during testing and migration in staging and also access the history to check for past data imports.

7. Optimize performance 

It should be a goal to determine how you can transfer data while utilizing the capabilities of D365 F&SCM. This will help you optimize performance and keep project costs lower during data migration.   

A solution such as Connectivity Studio allows you to perform multi-company imports, and parallel processing using multi-threading can help you harness the potential of D365 F&SCM and also speed up your testing and data migration.

8. Document and communicate at every step 

Documentation at every stage from planning to testing, and the final migration is essential. If people leave or if you have external parties involved, you will always have the documentation to refer to. Document the entire data migration process for troubleshooting, auditing, and future reference. Prioritize interfaces and ensure it is documented.   

Also, don't forget to communicate at every step so that everyone is on board. Important things such as the last date to enter data into the legacy system, the process changes that can be anticipated, mandatory training schedules, go-live date must be communicated beforehand to team members. This ensures effective change management and a smooth transition to D365 F&SCM when you go live. 

9. Automate processes

Automate and duplicate processes wherever possible to minimize resource load, reduce errors, and speed up the transition to D365 F&SCM. If you can configure or customize templates that help you map data, add data quality rules, and validate data, then that runs in the background. 

Consider solutions that help you automate a part of your data migration or testing process and save time. To-Increase's Data Migration Solution allows you to do this by using the same logic for repeated imports speeding up data migrations.  

10. Post-migration data validation

Data quality checks should be an essential component of any migration. Even after completing the migration, performing thorough data validations is essential to ensure there are no disruptions in business after moving to D365 F&SCM. This also assures team members that they can use data from the new ERP system to carry out business transactions and daily operations. Ensure that you have active data quality rules so that you can continue to maintain data quality even post-migration. 

Using our data quality solution, you can add data quality rules that can be used during and after a data migration. Additionally, by checking the history of past data imports you can compare migrated data with the source data, addressing any discrepancies promptly. 

Advanced tips to help you migrate data to Dynamics 365 F&SCM 

11. Form a team with an executive sponsor who will be solely responsible for the budget, timing, quality, and risk of the data migration project. Often the management is unaware of the data lifecycle and the issues at each stage. Communicating with the rest of the organization at regular intervals should also be an important role that the team plays.

12. Conduct a risk assessment of what could go wrong in any data migration plan. Look specifically at the credibility of the team responsible for the data migration and whether they have experience working on similar projects. If the team is new to such a project, you might need external expert help for your data migration project.

13. Analyze the scope of data, the amount of data, and the data sources. Add definitions and guidelines, if necessary, in your documentation for each of these. Evaluate and plan for the data you are moving. If you are moving data from multiple ERPs, add-on solutions, and data from customizations, then you are looking at more emphasis on data cleansing and validation as you might have errors and duplicates and will also need to validate that data before it is migrated into D365 F&SCM.

14. Define the amount of historical data that is necessary to move and determine its value. Identify data that can be discarded. Clearly define ownership and responsibilities for different data types and sources so that there is a clear distinction of roles.

15. Map and document the data sources that need to be migrated to the new system. Determine the format of each data source, and how it can be accessed, and perform a sample test extraction from the data source to Excel to ensure you can get the data out of the system. You need to validate whether the data that was extracted corroborates with the data in the system. If there are discrepancies, you have to examine how to get the hidden data from the system.

16. Evaluate the market for data migration solutions that will help you ease the process of data migration from your legacy system/s to D365 F&SCM and if that solution will meet all your business requirements, goals, and timeline. A demo and references will help you understand the capabilities of the solution. You can compare the solution with alternatives, such as development, and analyze the pros and cons of customizing versus buying an enterprise-ready solution.

17. Perform an extraction from all subsystems into staging tables to see if it has a home in D365 F&SCM and document this process so that you do not have any hidden surprises later. The way the data was stored in the previous system may be different from how D365 F&SCM would process and present it, as each ERP system has its own business rules and logic. If the data from the legacy system cannot fit in Dynamics 365 or doesn’t have a home, that means customizations. This process will help you plan for data mapping and understand if there are any customizations required. In this stage, it would help to have people trained in the D365 F&SCM and have an understanding of the legacy system. It would be best to do this in the early stages of the ERP implementation so that you can plan how best to meet your timelines for your data migration project.  

18. ETL (Extract, transform, load) is important. In this stage, you test and test some more. You have to transform the data to fit into the new system. Getting your stakeholders involved at this stage to look at the test data is important and will help you understand if there are any issues. This is the time to check data quality, increase the focus on data cleansing and validation, and resolve as many issues as possible before you can go live.

19. Once you load that incremental data into the staging server and test it and are sure that you can extract and get that data into D365 F&SCM, you can begin training your super users who then have to train the respective teams. A big mistake that organizations make is leaving this step until the last moment. When the go-live is rushed and your ERP users are not trained well enough, several operational issues may arise.

20. The next step is the actual data migration, typically planned over a period of a few days. Once you meet your data quality goals and confirm that everything is functioning well, it is time to go live and phase out the old legacy system. You might partially shut it down or keep a backup of the data for some time to ensure safety. If there are any unresolved issues, you need to address them. Maintaining a log of issues will be helpful along with dedicated documentation.

What are your plans for your data migration to D365 F&SCM? 

We hope you found these tips useful and will keep them in mind when you move to D365 F&SCM. By incorporating these tips and leveraging To-Increase's Data Migration Solution for Microsoft Dynamics, you can streamline your data migration process, reduce errors, and ensure a successful transition to a new system while maintaining data integrity. 

If you are keen to see our solutions in action, you can watch our webinar ‘How to Manage Challenging Data Migrations into D365 F&SCM’ where we showcase how our solutions work and share demos for various scenarios.  

If you are worried about data migration to D365 F&SCM and want to discuss this with one of our experts, please fill in the form below. 

Reach out to our experts and share your business requirements with them today!

Dorian Sakowski
Dorian Sakowski,
Dorian Sakowski,
Senior Pre-Sales Consultant

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