5 Tips for a Successful Data Migration Project

Data Migration Pro members and visitors have numerous tales of projects delivered with a lack of data quality management, poorly conceived methodologies, poorly skilled resources, and impossible deadlines.

How then can we change this and convince the stakeholders and sponsors to consider investing in a best-practice data migration?

1. Offering evidence from industry research and published analysts on the high failure rate occasioned by a lack of best-practices.

Companies such as Bloor Research have published some great research on the high rate of failure in migration along with the major causes of this failure. Use the data in your presentations when explaining why it is important to adopt best-practice data migration. The data comes from everyday organizations that have attempted but failed in migrating data without first adopting best-practices. If you’re looking for more details on data migration, check out this from Capita IT Professional Services.

2. Performing a migration impact assessment upfront for identifying hotspots

I recently encountered a company that maintained that it would not require any data quality improvement before migration. The company cited a complete lack of complaints with its data as the rationale behind ignoring the need for a data quality process in its projects.

The truth is that what your data currently does and what it is likely to do in the target environment is totally different. You should assess the data quality in the existing legacy environment as well as against the needs of the target environment.

If you perform an initial impact assessment and present the problem areas to the business, you are more likely to highlight the need for adopting the best-practice approach.

The reality is that what the data currently does and what it is likely to do in the target environment is totally different. You should first assess the data quality in both the existing legacy environment as well as against the requirements of the target environment.

3. Focusing on the impact of delayed migration to the larger corporate strategy

The cost of implementation of the best-practices approach will be more than offset by the cost of delay to the new workflow system that depends on a timely load of data before commissioning.

If the best-practices are ignored you can be sure of major delays, so prepare a simple chart that demonstrates the potential cost, not just to that project but also other dependent projects for every week of delay.

Use the average delays the Bloor report quotes to forecast the potential cost of any project overruns and then explain your plan of using best practices to prevent such delays.

4. Demonstrating the effects of poor data migration practices

Recently, one of our members commented on being frustrated by a project manager postponing data quality improvement due to the slipping delivery timescale and the wish of the business was to “get some data loaded”.

In such a situation you could offer clear examples of how the existing data quality levels will result in:

  • Broken business services and functions once the target system comes online.
  • Delays and disruptions during the loading phase since some records will be rejected.
  • Higher overall costs since the cost of delay and corrections in the target environment are bound to be significantly higher.

Best-practices can be paid for either during the process of data migration or a much higher amount can be paid in terms of technical and business issues downstream that result from failing to adopt the right approach.

5. Have a complete understanding of the best practices in data migration meaning that you can effectively argue for their inclusion.

If you don’t understand it completely, it is impossible to argue for a discipline.

One persistent problem in this profession is the lack of data migration education and experience. On Amazon, you will currently find only two books that are dedicated to data migration. Compare this to data warehousing, which has scores of online mentors, classes, training courses, and publications to train you in virtually all areas of the discipline.

Since data migration is very poorly understood, creating a compelling argument for the best-practices in data migration is something that many people struggle with. If you plan to fight your corner, you need to make sure that you completely understand the techniques from both a technical perspective as well as from a business perspective.

For instance, is your explanation for the need for a robust data quality rules management process able to pass the “So what?” test, which you are likely to face from skeptics that cannot see beyond the need for specialist resources and additional funding?

Technical people usually struggle with the presentation of the case to the business. It is thus important to make sure that you have done proper research, tested your pitch on your co-workers, and gathered evidence and examples to back it up and make a compelling argument.