This is why data conversion deserves more attention

20/04/2018 - Peter Gerhardt

Data conversion is an important part of the ERP implementation. You want to take over the data from the old ERP system as well as possible into the new ERP system. This is crucial for the organization in order to work successfully. Yet I often notice that data conversion is an underexposed part of the implementation and does not get the attention it deserves.

Do not treat data conversion as a separate process

Too often I see that the conversion process is apart from the regular implementation process. The data conversion is then treated as a separate, technical component of the implementation. The more technically oriented employees focus completely on converting the data from the old system to the new system. They do not consider the impact of of data conversion on the functional processes. And on the other end the exact same thing happens; the consultants who dedicate themselves to the processes pay little attention to the data conversion, because they consider it a technical matter. Wrongly, because data conversion and the functional implementation have to do with each other. Data conversion should be an integral part of the implementation where consultants and technical specialists work closely together on.

Consider which data you want to convert before the start of the project

The question of which data you want to take with you to the new ERP system should be asked and answered before you start the implementation. After all, the answer also impacts the scope and thus the planning of the implementation and thus of the data conversion. You do not want to run into the surprise of having to check the old system for data, just because it has not been taken into account during the implementation and the conversion.

When discussing processes, consider the influence on data conversion

When you discuss all the different processes, always think about the impact on the data conversion. People are often enthusiastic about all the new possibilities that the new generation of ERP systems has to offer. But how do these new possibilities affect the conversion? Which data should be included? Can we convert this integrally from the old system? Or should the data first be cleaned up or enriched? The data model in the new system often differs from the data model in the old system. This means that you might have to fill in extra fields. Those fields can be mandatory in the processes in the new system. How do you deal with this when converting your data? How do you make sure you fill in these fields?

The key to success? Work together!

The above questions need to be answered in a meeting between the team that deals with the functional implementation and the team that performs the data conversion. And these questions and answers need to be documented. Because during testing, the same questions will be asked and you can then rely on your documentation.

There is a lot to tell about data conversion. I have been through a lot. And everyone has certain, good and bad experiences with conversions. But one thing is for sure. You should let the data conversion truly be part of the implementation process.

Peter Gerhardt is Senior Lead Consultant Logistics at Dysel and helps customers achieve maximum results with business software.

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