Working the Plan: How to Create a Seamless Data Migration Initiative

More companies are undertaking a data migration initiative today as part of their data management process. There are many reasons for a data migration including acquisition of a company and its data assets as well as just pure organic growth requiring new capabilities. Unfortunately, a high number of those companies will encounter significant challenges during the migration process.

A data migration is a dynamic process that can wreak havoc with daily business operations even under the best of circumstances. Sales, client communications and so many more business operations can be dramatically impacted if data migration isn’t handled properly. But don’t let this scare you. When properly planned—and working to that plan—a data migration can get a business to a better place without much impact.

You really can’t plan too much.

Planning a data migration is a living thing that can change daily due to operational elements within the business. It’s best to start by gathering information. Don’t be afraid of getting too much input. It may surprise you how information can plug into your plan to make it more comprehensive.

Some important information point to consider include the estimated size of your database, the expected migration downtime, any potential risks, managing archived data and purging old, invalid or duplicate data. Ultimately, you’ll want to create a plan that incorporates the data to be moved, when it’s scheduled for migration and the location where it will be found after the migration.

Don’t ignore other stakeholders.

Moving digital assets is a huge undertaking that will affect almost everyone else within the business. As you formulate your plan be sure to engage other stakeholders in the enterprise to make sure needs are accommodated. Each department will have unique data needs—some more critical than others—and it’s important to incorporate those needs into the migration plan as best you can. 

Those at the management level will need to know about your plan as soon as possible in order to provide relevant input. This will help smooth the actual migration and allow for the best utilization and storage of data. As you work your plan, it’s a good idea to seek input so that changes can be made to increase the efficiency of the migration effort.

Provide a clear timeline.

Managing through a data migration will be easier if you provide a detailed timeline to those affected by the move. You’ll want to move critical customer and product information as well as vendor information, financial history and current transactions early in the move. 

Some information such as sales history and archived marketing information can be moved after the critical components have been migrated. Overall, be as specific as possible on your timeline so that others in the organization will know what to expect and can plan accordingly.

Test, test, test.

Just like creating the migration plan, it’s almost impossible to test too much after the migration has been completed. You’ll want to make sure that all migrated data has loaded and can be replicated into the new data environment and that the appropriate applications and interacting correctly. 

You’ll also want to test at different points during the migration to ensure that the plan is working properly. It’s better to address and migration issues early as opposed to after the fact when users may encounter challenges when trying to access and utilize data they need.

Data migration is a big undertaking for any enterprise and can seem overwhelming when considering the impact it will have on the business. However, the process can be accomplished efficiently and productively when it is viewed with a logical, inclusive approach incorporating the detailed steps of a thorough data migration plan.