Successful completion of a data transformation and ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) implementation will provide huge advantages to your organization. These include optimized business processes, better reporting capabilities, robust security, and more. But before you can realize these benefits, your organization must rise to the challenges ahead.

Below, we share 7 noteworthy obstacles to successful data migration which we have culled from our decades of experience converting data to Workday, Oracle Cloud ERP, Oracle EBS, Infor MS Dynamics, and other technologies.

1. Difficult Legacy Data Extraction

Logically, one of the first steps in data migration is determining which legacy data sources need to brought into the new system. Once this scope is determined, it is crucial to decide how that information will be extracted.  While extraction could be straightforward for some data sources, it could be onerous for others – including those hosted by third party vendors or data stored in older mainframe servers.

To facilitate legacy data extraction, ask yourself and your team the following questions:

  • How well do we know our existing data system?
  • Which members of your organization have intimate knowledge of your system’s nuances and current usage?  

Premier International utilizes our central data repository, Applaud®, to house data from each of your distinct legacy data sources. Additionally, we can directly connect to your ODBC system, seamlessly translate EBCDIC data, build utilities to pull data from many cloud data sources, and quickly incorporate new data sources as they emerge from your shadow IT (Information Technology) infrastructure.

2. Decision Making and Mapping Specification Challenges

To make your company’s existing data compatible with your new ERP solution, hundreds of tables and fields will need to be mapped and transformed from your “legacy” system to your “target” system. It is important to consider what data you want to appear in your target system. Do you need to bring over certain historical data? Do you want terminated employees or closed purchase orders to exist on your new platform? These are examples of questions that you should ask (and answer) in the requirements gathering. These decisions require input from both the technical team and subject matter experts (SMEs) to ensure overall accuracy in conversion and functionality. Note that these specifications can evolve throughout test cycles or as new requirements are understood and progressively elaborated.  

Additionally, legacy-to-target crosswalks are necessary to map existing values into their accepted equivalents in the new system. This can span everything from simple translations for country codes and pay terms to an entire revamp of your company’s Chart of Accounts. These crosswalks also change as the project progresses and the final solutions begins to take form.

Premier International helps facilitate decision-making with decades of data migration experience. We document field-by-field level transformations in our Mapping Specification documents; these mappings are archived, updated, and saved as requirements change throughout the project.

3. Complexity of Selection and Transformation Logic

Complex conversion logic is often necessary to get the desired outcome in the new data system. For example, selection logic between Suppliers, Purchase Orders, and Accounts Payable Invoices is closely interrelated and may need to address outliers like prospective suppliers, invoices on hold, and unreconciled checks. Failure to handle all data situations could lead to open transactions being orphaned in the legacy system and difficulties passing audits. Additionally, fields required in the target system might not exist in the legacy system and could require a complex derivation from several related fields. To effectively document the mapping specification, your organization’s technical and functional teams both provide insight into what is needed from each converted record.

Premier International’s Applaud® software is tried and true for effective coding of data transformation logic. We systematically process data on a record-by-record basis using predetermined requirements and mappings. The output data is in a ready-to-load format compatible with your new data solution.  

4. Communication Gaps

Communication between your organization’s functional and technical resources, the data conversion team, and the System Integrator can be challenging. It is especially important for data migration projects to ensure that all team members are aligned for the highest level of data accuracy in the new system. Miscommunications across the project team can lead to data errors and project delays. It is crucial that all team members know the current status of each conversion within the data conversion domain. Cross-functional issues related to mapping decisions, acceptable values for fields, and functionality within the new data system arise all the time. Communication within cross-functional meetings is constant and is necessary to ensure that each component of your data conversion team is on the same page.

Premier International stays on top of all data conversion tasks to ensure that each party knows its current status and pending decisions. We actively track each data conversion object to ensure that all necessary meetings are scheduled, and follow-up items are addressed. No matter the medium, we pursue issues until we achieve resolution and document pertinent decisions made in the process.

5. Difficulty Validating Converted Data

After following the conversion requirements to prepare data, there needs to be a way to validate that the data has been handled accurately (according to the requirements) and is fit for its purpose (fills business needs).  This process can be obstructed by availability of resources across your organization as well as knowledge of what to look for and approve. It can also be difficult to compare legacy source data with corresponding converted data because selection logic and mapping logic can be difficult to fully replicate.  

Premier International produces error reports for each conversion detailing missing or unmapped fields, unacceptable values, and more. We also produce validation reports that use a 3-way match to compare each record between the legacy data, target table, and extract provided by the System Integrator. These files aid our clients in identifying what fields need to be cleaned up or modified to have a successful load.

6. Limited Knowledge of Target System

Clients usually do not have upfront, advanced knowledge and experience working with the data system that they are trying to implement. Your organization may be often unfamiliar with the data migration process as well as certain nuances of your new data solution. Each data system has its own requirements for a successful data load, and they each have their own front-end functionality. Both factors need to be understood by the project team to map, test, and validate the converted data.  

Premier International utilizes our system-by-system validations built over years of successful project implementations. Our consultants possess years of experience with a given target system, guiding our clients to understanding the nuances of their new data solution and helping them achieve their overall project objective.

7. Project Delays

There are many components of your project that can contribute to project delays, including lack of available resources, difficulties understanding data requirements, or an unreasonable/compressed timeline. Once delays occur, it is oftentimes more costly for your organization and can disrupt the overall rollout of your new data solution. Some implementations are never able to fully recover from delays and the additional costs associated, leaving them ill-prepared to move to their new data system (if at all).  

Premier International is a Client First organization. Our skilled consultants go above and beyond to make sure our data migration tasks are completed on time and with great accuracy.

Celebrating Success

If you can overcome these obstacles (and potentially others), you will be on your way to a successful data migration project. You and your team will expend effort, time, and resources throughout the implementation process, so it is important to reap the benefits of your new data system after go-live! Make sure you celebrate your success and remember the challenges you had to overcome to get here. Congratulations!