Most business leaders eventually have to deal with the challenges of replacing a system that has reached the end of its life cycle. This could be because vendor support and updates are no longer available for the system or your firm can no longer ignore the efficiencies to be gained by migrating to a more modern platform. In either case, this type of project rates among the most complex. It is important to plan carefully and test thoroughly. Some businesses will migrate to a Cloud-based application and many will make this transition to a local server. These considerations can help in either case.
Carefully evaluate and pilot the new system to be sure that it will meet your needs and add the value to your business you are expecting. Think broadly of the impacts the new systems may have on your infrastructure, personnel and business spaces. After all, why go through all this trouble if the results are not going to be stellar?
Consider a consultant
When you are betting the farm on a new ERP or line of business system, it is often worth the money to hire a consultant like NPI Technology Management to help you choose and even purchase this new system. These are experienced professionals who know the ins and outs of the options. These experts can translate your business requirements into the best feature set available to ensure a strong match. Often, the money these professionals can save you by negotiating the purchase of the software exceeds their consulting fee. They will make sure you buy enough of what you need and none of what you don’t and get the best price.
Once you have identified and negotiated the purchase of your new system it is time to plan the implementation. Don’t forget to leave enough time for project management which is the time needed to create and monitor the progress of the plan. This includes communicating with stakeholders and documenting everything.
Backup and rollback
At every step of the process, be sure to create and verify at least two complete backup copies of the database. If you encounter something unexpected–and you will–you need to able to roll back quickly to the starting point and reevaluate.
Data conversion and migration
You need to understand what will happen to the data during the process. Often, the data cannot be migrated from point A to point B without some sort of conversion process.
Data within outdated systems isn’t always sound. Sometimes you will have “orphan” data that doesn’t relate to any other data. It’s possible that over the years some data may have been corrupted or elements are missing that can interfere with the data conversion process from the old system to the new system.
There are four main stages to the process: planning, analysis, conversion and finally migration.
Identify migration requirements, stakeholders, schedule and project management.
Here it’s all about the data. The data must be assessed on how it needs to be handled from the legacy (source) system to the new (target) system. Test plans for data runs need to be addressed in this phase.
Conversion: This is the data mapping phase. Identify the tools you will use to migrate the data. If they don’t exist you may need to design and develop them on your own or sub out that task. Test those tools and the conversion process. Validate the converted data. The data must be correctly converted from and to all relevant database fields to work with the target system.
Converted data migrates from the source database to the target database (legacy system to new system). It will be checked and validated. Once the migration is successful, the project is complete.
Consider the additional work or costs associated with your communications systems, staffing and each office area. Many vendors don’t consider these issues that can either create efficiencies or increase project costs.
Understanding how the data will be converted and migrated is only part of the decision-making process. Here are a few other considerations:
- Do you need to keep the legacy system running for a period of time?
- What is the entire cost for the project?
- What staffing resources will be required?
- Be sure to consider all the security implications.
The decision to migrate away from a legacy system and the decision of what to replace it with are not solely IT department decisions. Involve stakeholders throughout the organization to be sure all important factors are considered, including data security, integration with other systems and Return on Investment.
Turning to a Technology Management company for all phases of this process is a good option because they can knit together the various strands of the project. NPI, for example, has a thorough assessment process that will identify the required infrastructure to support the new system. This will guarantee you achieve the performance levels and business productivity you are expecting. Using a company like NPI for the design process and implementation will yield benefits as the system goes into production. Post implementation support for monitoring and management is also available to ensure ongoing success!