Monday, 17 September 2012

4 important questions for migrating data

Planning a migration of data to new systems? One popular expectation of new systems is that they will fix errors caused by incorrect data on the legacy systems that held the original data.

New systems rarely do fix data errors. So the phrase "Garbage in, garbage out" is never more significant when moving large amounts of data from one entity to another.

Very often business users will rightly concentrate on the needs and requirements of the business. This is correct business practice. But here are 4 alternative questions to ask before migrating data.

1. How old is my data?
Analyse those timestamps and find out how much of your data is likely to be out of date. Find out what the regulations are about your data. Do you have to keep it for a certain amount of time? At what age can your data be scrapped?

2. What granularity can you do without?
Perhaps you have a whole group of suppliers who have since been taken over by one company. Perhaps you have duplicates of customers. You could also have a complex list of multiple products that could be migrated over under one single product name. Multiple transaction types could be simplified. Standardising, simplifying and de-duplicating your data before migration greatly increases your chances of a smooth migration.

3. What data is not relevant?
Perhaps you have suppliers or customers who no longer do business with you. Perhaps you have products or services that you no longer offer. Do you need to migrate that data? 

4. How much of my data is bad?
Analyse the quality of your data. Do you really need to keep it if the quality is bad? Make a challenge as to why you need to migrate it. Make sure there is substantial business purpose for data remediation, as it is potentially the most costly part of the operation.

When gathering requirements, it is easy to fall into the trap of migrating everything and risking over-complicating the process. One of the reasons why you are migrating your data to another platform is presumably because you choose to take advantage of a more modern entity. Don't let the old entity's quirks and foibles infect your new system. Your business will be keen to migrate as much of the old data as possible. To ensure balance, stand the requirements on their head and offer the challenge - what data can we do without?

No comments:

Post a Comment