Do You Need to Migrate All that Data?

Mark Canes

Data migration is just one part of the entire ERP implementation process, but tends to represent the largest percentage of implementation costs aside from employee training.  Data migration involves mapping information from old software to new, according to labels, titles and structures, and includes additional “massaging” or “cleaning up” to ensure bad data is not brought into the new system. Common examples of data that gets transferred are vendor, customer, and product information, as well as historical sales data, A/P and A/R outstanding, open sales orders, GL account numbers and balances, inventory quantities - essentially any data that is necessary.

The high costs associated with data migration are easily understandable when dealing with older companies who may have 30 plus years’ of information to accurately move over - often from outdated systems.  However, even as a start-up or newer company, there is usually some amount of data migration in the form of inventory items and customer or vendor information that will need to be imported into your new system. Aside from cutting down on costs, there are also other benefits to reducing the amount of information being moved over into a new ERP system.  These include decreasing implementation time-frames, and preventing garbage /outdated information from polluting your database.

One option to cut back on data migration costs is to perform your own "data migration" by manually re-keying information into a new ERP solution.  Although less costly from a software purchase perspective, this method involves a lot of man-hours, meaning time and labor costs.  In addition it can be error prone and very cumbersome.  As a truly start-up company this may be a viable option if the amount of data to migrate is negligible, however the amount of work necessary to manually perform this task generally outweighs the costs.  It also does not account for the expertise needed to update data already migrated prior to Go-Live, in order to have the most up-to-date information.

Instead of trying to entirely eliminate the need for data migration, explore your options for reducing the amount of data to migrate, and determine exactly what information is necessary to keep. Bear in mind that you can continue to maintain your existing database of information on its own computer for the rare cases that you do need to look up very specific historical information.