16 August 2017

Preparing for Data Migration —What You Need to Know

Obstacles in Data Migration

Migrating data from one data storage source to another seems a fairly straightforward process, right? 

However, if not planned well and done right, your data migration project could end up draining your time, budget, and resources, and could negatively impact your critical business processes. 

As an established Microsoft ISV specializing in the Dynamics space in the US and European markets, we at To-Increase have helped many customers across industries perform data migrations from legacy systems (such as Dynamics AX) to more advanced ERP systems (such as Dynamics 365 Finance & Supply Chain Management). We are, therefore, aware of the hurdles that you may have to face when migrating data, and as such, would like to share our tried and tested methods for overcoming data migration challenges. 

But first, let’s look at what is data migration and what are the different types of data migration. 

What is data migration?

According to Microsoft, data migration is the process of transferring digital information to a different location, file format, environment, storage system, database, data center, or application. It could mean moving applications or databases, or migrating your on-premises infrastructure to a cloud-based setup.

Depending on the type of data migration you opt for, the process may also include data transformation, data extraction, and data preparation.

Related Reading: Data Preparation: Master the First Step to Business Analytics (to-increase.com)

Since data migration involves a change of data storage source from one ERP or application to another, the process can turn out to be quite complex. And this can lead to a failed migration project should you fail to plan a clear data migration strategy.

What are the types of data migration?  

  • Storage Migration: The process of moving data from one storage location to another.
  • Database Migration: The process of moving or upgrading from one database management system to another.
  • Application Migration: Where an organization moves its applications and database files from one computing environment to another.
  • Cloud Migration: The process of migrating data and/or applications from an on-premises environment to the cloud.
  • Business Process Migration: Involves the movement of business applications and data to a new environment due to the scaling of business processes.
  • Data Center Migration: The process of migrating data to a data center, data warehouse, or a data lake.

What can hamper your data migration plan? 

There are several factors that could get in the way of data migration. Some of the unexpected hurdles you may run into are:

1. Poor data quality

Most organizations rush into data migration without waiting to first check the quality of the data being migrated. Needless to say, if you move data of inferior quality to your new application, ERP, or the cloud, you are going to end up with bad data that is inaccurate, duplicated, incomplete, and outdated. This later poses a problem during data distribution or data reporting. 

Related Reading: How Does Bad Data Affect Your Business? (to-increase.com)

2. An abundance of data sources

Too many data sources quite often translate to a huge amount of data being stored in your data warehouse or applications, which can affect proper data analysis and impact your data import process. It may also lead to unstructured data migration, resulting in data loss. 

3. Changing business requirements

Although your organization may decide on one type of data migration during the planning stage, business requirements may well change during the execution phase—sometimes due to a merger or an acquisition, or because of a budget cutback that limits the extent of data migration done. 

4. Unavailable resources

Due to the complex and unpredictable nature of a data migration project, it may take many weeks for the migration to complete—especially if you are dependent on developers to code the migrations. There are, therefore, chances that members of your team may be on leave or exit the organization before the data is fully migrated. 

Despite the above hurdles, it is possible to achieve successful data migration if these challenges are acknowledged and accounted for during the planning stage itself. Let’s look at the 5 key steps that you need to take to ensure seamless data migration. 

5 key steps to succeed with data migration 

1. Plan for the unexpected

A strategic data migration plan should factor in potential risks and unexpected issues before commencement. Outline the end result you wish to achieve with migration. Look into standardizing your data and resolving data quality issues before migrating the data to a newer application or ERP.  

You need to decide whether you prefer to complete the data migration in one go or would like to adopt a phased approach wherein the data is moved gradually. Factor in the budget required for unforeseen roadblocks that can slow down or stall your data migration project.  

2. Use a data migration project management methodology

Using a project management methodology forces you to apply data migration best practices, such as risk management and business requirements analysis. It helps you take a high-level view of your overall migration strategy, and scope, plan, and document your migration project. This includes collecting information about existing data storage locations, examining the type and formats of data, determining the appropriate migration approach, selecting the right data migration tool, and deciding on the number of resources required.  

A data migration project management methodology also provides you with checks and balances to measure the performance of your migrations. For instance, our advanced data migration and application integration product, Connectivity Studio, uses the Sure Step methodology, which has been designed specifically for Microsoft Dynamics implementation projects and encompasses the entire project lifecycle (from planning, analysis, design, and development to deployment and support). 

3. Put a skilled and experienced team to work

A best practice that helps in achieving a high degree of success with data migration is setting up a dedicated data migration team who understands your unique organizational challenges. Employ specialists with a strong, functional knowledge of Microsoft Dynamics 365 to manage and steer the project. Your team should be responsible for developing, executing, and monitoring your data migration project and also capable of identifying and troubleshooting issues before, during, or after the migration process. 

Ensure that your team is structured well with clearly defined roles. This will help ensure that the transition happens as planned—on time, without exceeding the allocated budget, and with minimal downtime. 

4. Ensure business collaboration

A data migration project can be challenging because you need to ensure that business disruptions are kept at a minimum while the migration is going on. Therefore, collaboration between the business and the data migration team is essential to pull off a successful data migration. This includes backing up business-critical data to offset a possible data loss, implementing data migration policies so that data migration is streamlined, and ensuring proper audit and documentation throughout the migration period. 

Your data migrations are meant to support your organization’s business objectives at every step. By collaborating with the business from the beginning, you will be able to pivot in case of a change in business requirements. 

5. Use tools whenever applicable

A good data migration tool is indispensable if you’re looking to succeed in your data migration efforts. Proven, effective tools will help you speed up your project and provide you with much-needed agility while the transition is in progress. Depending on the type of data migration your organization has opted for, you could choose to go with an on-premises data migration tool, a cloud-based tool, or an open-source tool that relies on coding.  

Opting for a no-code or low-code data migration software like To-Increase Connectivity Studio for Microsoft Dynamics 365 F&SCM can help you configure data import and export from multiple data sources and enable data migration from any legacy system into D365. Moreover, you will benefit from tutorials that can be customized and that can help you run the full migration with only one click. 

Related reading: 10 Reasons Why Connectivity Studio for D365 Is a Great Tool for Data Migration

Ready to get started with data migration? 

We hope this blog gave you a brief overview of what obstacles you may need to work around when you get started with planning a data migration. Although there are several types of data migrations and tools to consider at this stage, if your organization is considering a move to Dynamics 365 F&SCM or looking for a solution that can handle large data exports between your legal entities, you may be interested in the flexible, advanced solutions that we offer. Along with software for data migration, we can also help you refine your data quality, integrate disparate systems, extract and prepare your data, and simplify data analytics, without any need for development from your end. 

To learn more or to discuss your specific data migration challenges, please reach out to us today. 

Eager to learn more about achieving successful data migrations in Dynamics 365?

Pieter de Jong
Pieter de Jong,
Pieter de Jong,
Technical Solution Architect

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