5 Steps to Prepare for a Data Conversion When Implementing a new ERP Solution:
One of the most challenging phases of a new software implementation is having your data migrated to the new system. Below are five steps you can take to help prepare your company for the data conversion and improve the likeliness of a successful transition.
- Should you Convert Your Data? -- Depending on the size of your company and the cleanliness of the data, you should determine if a data conversion is even a worthwhile investment. For smaller companies, it is often more cost-effective to hand key the data into the new solution. This gives users the ability to review the data and catch problems that may have been going unnoticed and it can also be a good training exercise for the new system.
- Clean Up Your Data-- Start cleaning up as much of the data as possible the moment your company starts discussing the purchase of a new solution. We've all heard the 'data in, data out' analogy and this is absolutely true, so focus on consistency with items like customer names, addresses, phone numbers, etc. If your current system has data stored in fields that are not meant for that type of data (i.e. phone number stored in a contact name field) try and correct it if possible. In many cases, these incorrect fields were used due to the lack of a valid place to store that info in the first place which means you might not be able to correct it, but you can review and document these situations so they are not overlooked by your new software vendor when the conversion takes place.
- Convert Inactive Customers-- Decide in advance if you feel that converting inactive customers is worthwhile. An effective option is to use a cut-off date and only convert a customer if they've had activity within a specified amount of time. Be prepared to use your current system for historical lookups as opposed to having detailed history converted. If you've been on a system for years it is likely that you have a lot of codes that are no longer in use so converting history would result in creating these old codes in the new system or mapping these old codes into a generic 'conversion' code which negates the purpose of having the history for lookups.
- Extract Data-- Evaluate the options for extracting data out of your current system. Can data be easily accessed either through the database directly or by utilizing built-in reports/exports? If not, you should be prepared to enlist your current software vendor for assistance in extracting the data.
- Review Special Situations -- Identify and document the details of any 'special' situations that you may have set up in the current system. This might be related to a special way that you have to bill a certain set of customers or maybe a creative way that you 'linked' customers together in the system. Knowing this information prior to any discussions related to the conversion will help prevent these items from being converted incorrectly or even missed altogether.
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