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Do you really need to get your head into a spin over a data migration?

It goes without saying but there aren’t many words in the tech sector that send your head into a spin as much as the words ‘data migration’ do. 

Whenever these words are mentioned together it can cause many sleepless nights, for even the most experienced members of your IT team, who will need to make this data migration. 

Or it could be the case where someone in your IT team hasn’t done one before and your colleagues very much leave them to it! Why does this happen and is this fear around data migration misplaced? 

Data Migration can often be a daunting task that can cause many headaches in your business. Most people often view data migration as moving data from one place to another which essentially it is. However, what isn’t considered is the amount of time that it takes to make sure everything is in place to allow a smooth migration. The margins for error are very slim as data is either correct or isn’t. Furthermore, businesses increasingly hold vast quantities of data that needs to be migrated that doesn’t help and the GDPR regulations only ramps up the pressure. This is why the migrated data needs to be correct. 

One of the biggest challenges around data migrations revolves around the fact that in many cases there are usually a few unknown factors. From within the system itself, it may seem correct, however the database that will be used for the migration to the read the data may reveal that the data is either stored or named in a different way. 

This part of the process cannot be underestimated therefore requires a team effort with the client, data owner to clarify exactly what the data is, what needs to be migrated and how it links together to be able to translate the database in its entirety. 

This is why as far as we are concerned it is important not to focus on the differences but to focus on things that won’t change. By going down this road can make it easier to progress quickly as well as breaking down the tasks into some that are more manageable. 

Step 1: Being able to access the data 

This may seem obvious; however, it can often cause problems as to fully analyse and migrate the data you need to be able to view it. No matter what format the data is in or where it is stored, partners such as Advantage will need to be granted read-only access which can take longer than you think as it makes its way up and down the chain of command. 

Step 2: What data will be needed? 

As the data owner, only the client can determine what data is required, what data can be legally retained and what data can be archived in the legacy system or stored in the Cloud. The earlier these conversations happen in your business about the answers to these questions the better. 

Furthermore, it is also best to identify a minimum dataset required as it often holds the key to the best migrations. It can often be very easy to say take all the data, however you should look at this as more of an opportunity to cleanse your data and put only the best data into your new system making use of your data retention policies. Don’t have any policies around data? No problem why not use this migration as an opportunity to formulate some to ensure that your data meets the regulations of GDPR as well as other data related legislation? 

Step 3: Where can this data be located? 

Right, you now know what data is needed, the next step is to identify exactly where it is located. This could be columns in a spreadsheet or fields on the source system. Following on from the last item of the previous sentence, initially identify and document where the required data is in the current system then seek help in order to map out where the data is in the database. 

Step 4: Where will this data be going? 

The final element required is the system where the data is being migrated to. In rare cases, the data is migrated as it is but, in most cases, entities will need to merge or split, values changed or remapped or some data cleansed before it goes in.  

After completing the above steps, it should be easy to build a mapping schema that states what data needs to make the move, from where, where it needs to go and if and how it needs to be edited.  

Next Steps? 

If your business is thinking of completing a data migration and need help with completing the above steps or are looking to complete an integration with Dynamics 365 then please contact our team of Dynamics 365 experts now to discuss your requirements. 

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