What is a data migration?
A data migration is the transfer of data from one location (the source) to another location (the target). The complexity of a data migration will depend on the differences between the source location (i.e. where the data is coming from) and the target location (i.e. where the data is going to).
Data Migration may be required in your organisation for a range of reasons, such as:
- You are transitioning from another database software to ETO software
- You are transitioning from older ETO Legacy systems to ETO Touchpoints (which are two different data management frameworks within ETO software)
- You are redesigning or reorganising your existing ETO database
- You are importing data from an external database or data management system
The decision to migrate data into your ETO database is an important one which has its advantages and disadvantages. This post will describe three primary pros and three primary cons for most ETO data migrations to help you understand the implications of a data migration project so that you can make an informed decision for your data and your organization.
If you migrate data into ETO, you can use that data in your ETO database. Therefore, usability allows you to:
- Run reports using both historical data and current data.
- Compare historical data to current data side-by-side.
- Review historical data from within the user interface of your ETO system.
If data isn’t in your ETO database, you cannot view it in ETO, use it in reports in ETO, or edit it in ETO.
Migrating historical data into a new database structure provides continuity between the old and the new. Old data will be formatted to your new structure so your historical and current data are a homogenous set. The alternative is to leave your data where it is. However, if you don’t migrate data to your new structure, you may be required to report on the two data sets separately. Split reporting for historical and current data can be a challenge. Data migration mitigates this challenge by maintaining continuity in your data.
Migrating data into ETO is helpful because staff are familiar with the data structure, collection methods, and systems they used prior to the new structure you’re implementing, so it will be easier for staff to embrace the new system.
Even if you do migrate familiar data, staff will still need to be trained in the new ETO system. Practical application is the best way to make training stick for ETO users. As a result, if they can see the data they are familiar with and its relation to the new ETO data structure, they have a better chance of accepting and understanding the changes. So migrating data lowers the training hurdle by building on users’ existing knowledge.
One of the primary disadvantages to a data migration is cost. Data migrations are complex and technical processes which require proficient ETO administrators and skilled data managers who can manipulate data external to ETO (i.e. in Excel or Access). A data migration project will also require expertise in project management and training.
For many organizations, these skills are not readily available within their pool of staff, or they may have some of these skills but not all of them. As a result, you may need to hire an external consultant to design and execute your ETO data migration – see our post on 7 ETO tasks where you may need the expertise of an ETO consultant. The more complex the data migration, the more costly this process becomes.
And even if you choose to use internal staff to design and execute your ETO data migration, there is still a cost to your organization. This cost is the salary or hourly wages and the time spent by an internal staff member on the data migration project, which is time spent away from other important tasks that they may be required to do.
Data migrations take time. Whether you conduct the process internally or with an external consultant, your organization will invest time in this process. The more complex the ETO data migration, the more time consuming it becomes.
With these type of projects, you may get to a point of negative return where the investment of time and money in the data migration project outweighs the advantages. So, you need to be aware of this and when it happens, you should scale back the scope of your data migration process to bring the costs and benefits back into balance.
3. Inherit Poor Data Quality
If you have poor data quality now in your old data management system and you plan to migrate that data into your new system, your new system will most likely inherit the same challenges, headaches, and poor data quality.
Because good data quality contributes to higher system performance and reporting accuracy, you should plan for the following tasks during a data migration project to increase the quality of your data:
- Cleanup source data before you transition that data to the target location.
- Cleanup source data as you transition that data from the source location to the target location.
- Cleanup source data once the data has been transitioned to the target location.
It is important to cleanup data before you migrate the data and after you migrate the data, which may require both systematic bulk cleansing as well as manual data cleanup. It is better to proactively clean your data throughout the data migration process, rather than waiting until the end to clean the data and discovering the enormity of the cleanup task!
Plan for a Successful Data Migration
Data migrations aren’t easy. They have the potential to turn your clean and organized ETO database into a disorganized, unmanageable system. So data migration requires careful planning by weighing up the pros and cons of migrating your data. Engaging in this process can help guarantee a successful ETO data migration.
Once you have made the decision to migrate your data, there are several data migration options available – see our post on 5 Data Migration options to consider when implementing ETO for more information.