Your organization is thinking about a new accounting financial solution that will meet your growing needs. A solution that will be able to rectify your current system’s shortcomings and that will also be, needless to say, more advanced. And so you decided to initiate a process to change your ERP. A huge challenge, often underestimated, now rises before you: the conversion of your data. Let me explain why.
Data Conversion, a Project in Itself
Data conversion is one of the main reasons why an ERP implementation project misses goals such as deadline, budget, or even both. Let’s start with a short description of what data conversion is. Data conversion consists in taking data from your old system (legacy), adding to it missing data, and then transferring the entire set of data to your new ERP.
In addition to the migration of your current data, the new implementation will probably require making several changes and/or improvements to your existing process. You should probably consider data conversion as a project in itself or, at least, develop a thoroughly detailed plan for it.
Four Points to Remember to Ensure the Success of Your Data Conversion
Before going through those four points, allow me to explain why they are important, and what could happen if you do not pay attention to them.
Why: the time allotted to the conversion is too often underestimated. There is a tendency to proceed to an over-simplistic analysis of this important part of an ERP implementation without considering each and every little detail. These following key points will help you structure the data conversion while meeting deadlines and complying with allotted budgets. The more precise, the less surprises!
What happens if you don’t pay attention to these points: If you did not pay enough attention to those challenges when the time comes for you to go through data conversion and the many details it entails, questioning and hours dedicated to data conversion will increase drastically. You probably will have underestimated the hours you and your staff will have to spend on the project. Don’t forget, the more unplanned time you spend on this conversion, the less time you will dispose of to accomplish your daily tasks. Reconciling both is not always as easy as one would think. Not taking the below into consideration will have instant effect on your deadline. You will also need to anticipate delays, thus, an increase in costs related to the implementation of the ERP.
1. Analyze the Scope of the Project by Paying Special Attention the Three Following Points:
- Analyze your baseline data taking into consideration related quantity, quality and integrity. At this point in time, we usually refer to your clients, suppliers, products, general ledger accounts, etc;
- Assess your open transactional data. It includes all your open accounting transactions, for example: purchase orders, requisition forms, etc;
- Assess the historical data you wish to import to your new ERP over a period of one year, two, or all of it! This decision will have a direct effect on your data import project.
2. Develop a Data Conversion Strategy that Relies on the Following Points:
- Develop a thoroughly detailed plan for the conversion of your data all the while assigning tasks to the various stakeholders involved in the project;
- Prioritize tasks and actions to be completed;
- Empower the decision makers you identified;
- Referring to the plan, select the appropriate personnel for each task;
- Establish exactly who, internally and externally (ERP implementation consultant), will participate to the conversion;
- Make sure you include your operations’ personnel in the conversion process;
- Establish everybody’s level of participation including the number of hours and exact timetable.
3. Define the Mapping of Your Data as Well as the Standards and Rules Applying to Their Conversion:
- Identify data sources including their origins;
- Examine and analyze data sources and compare them to the target data;
- Anticipate potential issues: forgotten data rules, poor data quality, large volumes to process;
- Clean the data before importing it;
- Keep a copy of pre-conversion data sources;
- Develop a data loading/converting tool if necessary;
- Do not forget to document rules, templates and tools in detail.
4. Test, Validate, and Reconcile During Data Conversion
Typically, the rule of thumb is to test a small amount of data to import. In doing so, you will be able to validate mapping according to the pre-set rules. It will then be easier to reconcile data sources with target data. Once everything is validated, increase the amount of data to import.
As you can see, data conversion is a complex process requiring a great amount of attention and efforts. This is whyCreatech offers to support you throughout the entire process. For the last 25 years, Createch, through its consulting team, supports and helps all its clients through this crucial part of an ERP implementation that is data conversion. Contact us!