Sep 2015 | Data Quality | Data Management, Data Migration
By Posted by Derek Munro

Data migrations are commonplace these days and with the quantity of data growing rapidly year on year, they’re growing ever more complex. That’s why I believe we continue to see such appetite for our roundtable events where customers can learn and share experiences about what works for them. Our recent September event was no exception and as host I was pleased to be joined by a selection of customers from industries across the board as well our guest speaker, industry expert Johny Morris.

We shared some really valuable insights on the day and I’m happy to share the highlights with you:

1. Seven stages of a successful data migration

It was widely accepted that executing a data migration effectively can be a challenge, however following the “7 stages of a successful data migration” that Johny detailed can make the process simpler and keep you focussed on the task ahead. They are:

  • Data profiling
  • Data quality management
  • Data integration
  • Formal methodology
  • DM project independence
  • Internal competency
  • Business engagement

2. What can hinder success?

There’s a multitude of factors that can hinder your success, but these are often easy to overcome. Major delays are usually caused because people haven’t thought about what data they need, and when they need it. And, as larger migrations take place, there are usually two parties involved – the customer and the supplier. It’s important to figure out what parts are required and who is tasked to do what. To overcome these problems, you need to clearly understand the boundaries of everyone’s responsibilities and the mechanics of handing data and the associated responsibilities from one part of the team to another. Johny used a political metaphor here, talking about the demilitarized zone (DMZ) that clearly delineates the boundary between the teams.

3. Ensure you have the right people and process

We all know that having the right people and process in place is key to the success of any project, whether it’s data quality, migration or governance and as I said in the roundtable, without that even our software can’t save you! Make sure that you have a well-thought out plan in place and that the project team are engaged to and motivated for the task in hand – it will make the whole project a lot easier for you in the long-run.

4. Secure buy-in and make it stick

What’s key however is that once you have that essential board level buy-in, you keep it – and communicate the fact across the business. One example we heard during the roundtable included highlighting to the business how much money could be saved by sorting out incorrect data and could therefore be reinvested into training for staff.

Johny added “You have to give examples of issues that are relevant to the business. You can even choose examples that are visibly relevant to stakeholders though less than critical to the migration project in order to secure buy-in – at least it gets people engaged.”

5. How do you recognise business engagement?

To make sure people are engaged and feel like they are contributing to the task in hand it’s important to bring everyone together and stop people from working in silos. Create a platform that allows you to shout about your successes, whether this is via a company email, information boards or in regular meetings. Results will take time to appear so in the meantime this will help to keep your workforce engaged. And don’t forget to put a metric in place to determine how you are measuring internal engagement – i.e. how many people are turning up to your  issue resolution meetings.

6. Compliance is forcing people to take action

We live in an increasingly regulated world, and attendees told us that a lot of the time, this is driving them to take action. You need to make sure that your business leaders understand the implications of not following the rules, even if it’s as dramatic  as pointing out that this could ultimately result in the business ceasing operation. A great example we heard, was how one company realised that if they didn’t hold the right data about their products and where they were going, they would be unable to supply the product to any of their customers – a pretty fundamental operational function. Compliance obligations can also impact the sense of urgency. Engagement requires people to do things at the right time, because late proof of compliance can end up being just as costly as non-compliance.

Make sure that you have a forward-thinking plan, as well as a backup plan when considering your regulatory requirements. This will also help to get your regulatory stakeholders involved in your discussion early on, not only will this aid engagement but you will understand exactly what needs to be done to remain compliant.

Look for re-use and cost-sharing

At least two of the attendees had linked their migration project to their Data Governance tasks because many of the tools, skills and processes required for the migration were just as relevant for Data Governance. This was good news for budget-holders because the one-time movement of data into a new system is often, wrongly in my opinion, treated as a one-time throwaway expense instead of a reusable investment in the data quality infrastructure of the organisation.

Ease the burden with the right technology

Technology is just one piece of the jigsaw but it’s an important one because having the right tools in place can make all the difference. Experian Pandora is one such tool and is well known for having functionality that eliminates migration risks, shortens project timescales and ensures costs remain under control. It can also help to overcome the usual barriers to data migration success and supports the management of the project while providing better quality results and a full audit trail. Our customers find it particularly useful for migrations since it can be used by technical and non-technical staff, facilitating adoption across the organisation and collaboration.