Ever see the TV show Iron Chef? Contestant chefs are provided a kitchen then given random ingredients (eel! pumpkin! goat cheese! vermouth!) with which to make a new dish – in an hour!
During data conversion, that’s what I do: Receive existing data, often from disparate sources, and merge them into a single coordinated set that can be uploaded to a new or upgraded enterprise system.
But unlike the iron chefs, I can’t do it alone, and it takes time. There’s considerable teamwork and client investment required to pull it off.
And if it’s not done right? Improper data conversion can impact the adoption of a shiny new enterprise system.
Imagine if fields from an old system are wrongly identified, or an extra character is trimmed from a field on every part number, or a decimal on a general ledger field gets moved to an incorrect place. Now, multiply that across every record in the organization. You don’t want these issues showing up when the system goes live. Confidence will erode, adoption will stall.
Before we can discuss the most important ingredients in a successful data conversion, let’s look at the recipe. It usually involves:
- Data cleansing (Client): Our clients are the experts on their own data. A new enterprise system is the perfect time to get rid of dupes, unused fields, etc.
- Knowledge transfer (Client to Datix): This is where we learn the details of our client’s data in order plan the conversion
- Conversion (Datix): We acquire our client’s data files, clean and transform into a new master file, test, and upload to the client’s new enterprise system
- Validate (Client, Datix): This is the process of the client making sure the right data shows up in the right spot. If not, Datix fixes and re-uploads the data. Repeat until correct.
As you can see, success requires mutual knowledge of the data, cooperation and hard work. Though the work is often technical, it’s the human and management components that make or break the conversion. Let’s break down the most important ingredients.
It’s no surprise that holding regular meetings between your designated data team and our data conversion experts is crucial. Datix must understand your data to get the transformation right, and we have to cooperate and coordinate closely, especially during validation.
Just as there’s a dedicated person here at Datix making sure the data conversion goes well, someone within your organization must be responsible, available and empowered throughout data conversion. This person or team will ensure that details are not overlooked and that decisions are documented and carried out.
Business System Expertise
The dedicated resource should know your system, data and processes very well, since they will lead knowledge transfer and data validation.
Time and Resources
Don’t underestimate the time this process will take. It can be a painstaking process, involving multiple iterations. And there will always be something that you find that will extend the process. Be ready for a bit of chaos and embrace it. Key to empowering your internal experts is providing enough time and leeway to do the job correctly.
Break Validation Into Manageable Phases
You can’t eat every course of the meal at once. Work with your consulting team to phase the validation leads to better focus and first-time quality.
Validation Test Procedure
For data validation, a requirements-based test procedure will ensure that your team is focused on validating the requirements of the project – and doing so in a documented, efficient way. When you validate, make sure you’re happy with the end result – you have to live with it!
If you feel it’s going to take more than originally thought to properly validate, be sure to bring up concerns or issues early so Datix can accommodate immediately or plan for a change down the line. It may result in a change of scope, but it’s worth getting right.
Partner With an Expert
At the risk of sounding biased, data conversion is best undertaken with an experienced partner like Datix. Not only do we bring fresh eyes and knowledge from dozens of other projects, we are experts in the systems we’re implementing. We’re passionate about transforming business.
Data is the lifeblood of your business. Without good data, accessible at the right time to the right people, a company risks considerable operational friction. Data conversion success depends on communication, dedicated resources, expertise and accountability.
And a team of great chefs.
What have you been able to accomplish due to a successful data conversion?