17 December 2018

Data Migration Best Practices: Why Do They Matter?

10 Reasons Why You Should Follow Data Migration Best Practices

Is migrating your data, infrastructure, applications, or ERP an easy feat?

Unfortunately not!

From ensuring data quality while moving a huge volume of data to high development costs and fear of data loss—there’s a lot that can give you stress in a data migration project!

However, if planned and strategized well, data migrations need not be a challenge. In fact, by following tried and tested methods and choosing the right software, you can ensure that you realize tangible benefits from your migration plan.

In this blog, we’ll go through the basics of data migration and discuss why you should consider our expert-recommended best practices for your next migration project.

What is data migration?

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.

*[Source: Microsoft]

How does data migration work?

Usually, companies undertake data migration in order to transfer data from an older application or legacy ERP system to a newer one. This involves moving data between databases, storage systems, or even across different formats or platforms.

The data migration process begins with analyzing the existing data structure and identifying the data that needs to be migrated. Once this is determined, you can move on to developing a migration plan and outlining the steps and methodologies that need to be used. Depending on the complexity of the data and systems involved, various techniques such as ETL (Extract, Transform, Load), manual data entry, or automated scripts may be employed.

Since it is important to ensure data integrity and consistency during the migration process, data needs to be cleansed and transformed to fit the target system's schema and standards. Additionally, you would need to perform various validation checks and tests to verify the accuracy of the migrated data. Once you’re happy with the results of the tests, you can go live with the data migration process. In some cases, post-migration activities such as data reconciliation, verification, and validation are performed to ensure that all data has been successfully transferred and is functioning as expected in the new environment.

Is data migration the same as data integration?

Not really. While data migration and data integration are closely related concepts in the realm of data management, they are used for distinct purposes and involve different processes. Data migration involves the movement of data from a source system to a target system, typically during a system upgrade, consolidation, or a transition to a new platform. It often requires data cleansing, transformation, and validation to maintain the integrity and accuracy of the data being transferred. Data migration aims to ensure a smooth transition of data from one environment to another without compromising data quality or losing critical information.

On the other hand, data integration focuses on unifying data from multiple sources to provide a unified view or a cohesive dataset for analysis, reporting, or operational purposes. It enables seamless data flow and interoperability across different systems, applications, and platforms that help support your business operations and decision-making processes.

Since data integration involves the consolidation of disparate data sources, formats, and structures into a single, coherent data repository or application, most companies also undertake data cleansing and transformation during integrations to harmonize data from various sources and ensure consistency and compatibility.

Is data migration important?

Absolutely! Although migrating data is a complex process, it can equally pay big dividends for your company. It can help you modernize, expand, and optimize your operations for scalable growth. When you migrate data to a centralized location (such as Dynamics 365 F&SCM), you gain a unified view of your business data, which improves data visibility and security.

For instance, many companies, even today, maintain product or customer information in legacy systems or in the form of Excel sheets, which are prone to errors, and compromise their security. Migrating to an upgraded ERP and consolidating all that information helps you ensure the quality and accuracy of your data and keep it in a secure location.

However, rushing to migrate all your valuable data without any forethought is not a good idea. There are several challenges to data migration that you need to be aware of before committing to a migration or ERP implementation project. For example, if you have decided to move from your legacy ERP (such as Dynamics AX) to Dynamics 365 Finance & Supply Chain Management, you may require development to map fields and tables with Dynamics 365 or struggle with migrating data into multiple sub-companies at the same time.

Following data migration best practices can, therefore, help you migrate data in a simplified and timely manner.

10 reasons why you should follow data migration best practices

As explained earlier, companies undertake data migration when they decide to replace or upgrade their ERP, SaaS applications, or other business management systems. However, this can quickly become complex due to:

  • Data flowing in from several sources
  • Upgrading multiple legacy systems to the same ERP
  • Migrating to multiple companies or legal entities globally
  • Issues or restrictions around data access and/or security
  • Having multiple lines of business and differing historical datasets
  • Legacy systems that come with limited import and export capabilities
  • Data being available in varying formats (some of which might be obsolete)

Unaware of these complexities, though, many companies follow an unstructured approach to data migration. Some rely completely on their technical team to hand-code migration using only Excel or .CSV files while others leave it completely to a data migration solution provider without planning a clear data migration strategy—leaving it prone to failure (read mounting costs and implementation delays!).

Let’s look at the 10 reasons why it is imperative for companies to follow data migration best practices.

1. Data integrity

By following data migration best practices, you can ensure that the integrity and quality of your data is maintained throughout the migration process. This means that your data remains accurate, consistent, and reliable before, during, and after migration.

2. Minimized downtime

By following tried and tested best practices, you can minimize downtime during the migration process. Efficient migration strategies help reduce the impact on business operations, ensuring that essential services remain uninterrupted.

3. Risk mitigation

Adhering to data migration best practices can help you mitigate risks associated with data loss, corruption, and/or security breaches. By ensuring proper planning, testing, and validations are done, you will be in a better position to identify and address potential issues before they escalate.

4. Compliance and regulatory requirements

Data migration often involves moving sensitive information that may be subject to various compliance and regulatory requirements (such as GDPR, HIPAA, or PCI DSS). Following data migration best practices help you ensure that your critical data is migrated securely and in compliance with relevant regulations—thus reducing the risk of data breach penalties or financial losses.

5. Optimized performance

When executed properly, data migration best practices can lead to optimized performance of systems and applications. By organizing and structuring data appropriately, you can improve query performance, reduce latency, and enhance overall system efficiency.

6. Cost efficiency

Many a time, companies end up addressing post-migration issues (such as data quality), troubleshooting, and asking team members to rework migrating files that were overlooked due to a poorly executed migration. Following data migration best practices, planning the migration well, and investing in the right solutions can help you prevent such costly mistakes and delays down the line.

7. Business continuity

Data migration best practices support effective business continuity by ensuring that critical data and systems are available and functional throughout the migration process. This helps prevent disruptions to business operations and maintains customer satisfaction and trust.

8. Data quality improvement

Data migration is a golden opportunity for you to organize, validate, and improve the quality of your existing business data. By following data migration best practices such as cleaning, de-duplicating, and standardizing data before and during data migration, you can ensure that you have cleaner and more reliable data sets in your target environment.

9. Scalability and flexibility

Following data migration best practices allows for scalability and flexibility in managing data growth and evolving business needs. Well-planned data migration strategies help you accommodate future expansion, technology upgrades, and changes in data formats or structures.

10. Reputation and trust

Successfully executing a data migration project with minimal disruptions, data loss, or security incidents enhances the organization's reputation and builds trust with customers, partners, and stakeholders. Conversely, data migration failures can damage reputation and erode trust—impacting your business relationships and competitiveness. Following tried and tested tips can help you chart a successful data migration, without the risks, stress, or delays.

Data migration from legacy systems to Dynamics 365 F&SCM

If you’re a Dynamics AX customer, you may probably be looking to upgrade to Dynamics 365 F&SCM, since Microsoft has ended mainstream support for Dynamics AX 2009 and AX 2012. The process of data migration will be fairly easy if you follow tried and tested data migration best practices. We also recommend adopting our expert-recommended easy 7-step process for migrating data to D365 F&SCM.

At To-Increase, we have been involved in data migration and ERP implementation projects for Microsoft Dynamics since 2005. We, therefore, have the expertise to deal with data migration challenges and guide customers on data migration best practices—including migrations using Microsoft’s Sure Step methodology.

We offer an enterprise-ready, no-code Data Migration Solution that can help you migrate data seamlessly from any legacy ERP to Dynamics 365. Our solution can configure data imports from multiple data sources, help you validate your data in staging, and de-duplicate data, both during and after the data migration process.

Our bundle of data management solutions also includes software for data distribution, data security, data analytics, application integration, and EDI, which are built within Dynamics 365 to help you work seamlessly with the ERP, without any need for development.

If you’re interested in the flexible, advanced solutions that we offer or would like to discuss your specific data migration challenges with us, please reach out to our expert.

Alternatively, if you would like to learn how our data migration solution can help you fast-track large data imports and exports in Dynamics 365 while ensuring data quality, please download our product factsheet today.

Learn how you can ease and speed up data migration and ensure data quality in Dynamics 365

Data Migration solution for D365 F&SCM factsheet
Eric Van Hofwegen
Eric Van Hofwegen,
Eric Van Hofwegen,
Solutions Consultant

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