Phases of Data migration: Planning

In an earlier post, I had outlined the key elements of a data migration plan. Now let us delve into the details.

(1) Scope: Clearly identify what data needs to be migrated over from the source system into the target system. Insights of subject matter experts are invaluable, Use them well! Work with your team, to identify what needs to be migrated, base the decision on how the business process will have to be executed in the new system and what information is essential to ensure success, effectiveness and efficiency. In every migration project I have managed, this is a crucial building block. At the end of this stage, you should have Estimate of the data assets (number of records, metadata, documents etc.)

(2) Criteria for a successful migration: this deliverable is closely tied to the scope of the data migration. Migrating the data into the target system without any errors doesn’t mean the project was successful; focus on what your customers will need! The criteria should start with error free migration and also include impact to customers if additional cycles are involved. This will take a few iterations, engage your subject matter experts and end users and work with them to refine the scope and define the criteria for success.

(3) Decision making authority of each of the data domains: In my experience, ownership of data is a tricky item. Different groups may own pieces of information that make up usable data to the enterprise! First identify the data elements and then start asking for who is the owner or steward of this data; this will lead you to decision making authority. Ensure that this person is always engaged, communicate often and well! Without their buy-in, scope and criteria for success will be meaningless.

(4) What data needs to be migrated: in almost all cases, all the data mayn’t be required. Consider the lifecycle of the information, in most cases the data can be divided into three buckets

a. Currently relevant to business

b. Historic information for archival / research purposes

c. Newly created, which may not have any significant value yet

Consider these buckets well, in most cases you might need to splice the data and truly identify all facets of usage. Dig deep and clearly identify usage patterns, this will indicate the value of your dataset and will provide insight into your final decision of partial or complete migration

(5) Timing: this is a key element of your plan. You need to clearly identify the time line for cutover into production. Work backwards from go-live date and identify spots for key tasks like development of extraction, loading and validation utilities, test runs (at least 2-3), stakeholder acceptance tests. You mayn’t have a clear idea of time needed to load into target system, work with your software vendor or benchmark with companies/individuals who have worked on similar systems and assess the time required for final migration.

(6) Requirements: focus on resource, system (hardware/software) and budgetary requirements. Gather as much information as possible from benchmarks and vendors to clearly identify what you might need to ensure success of this project. Start communicating the requirements to program sponsors, your resources and stakeholders, get alignment and then go secure the requirements.

(7) Roles and responsibilities: clearly define the roles and responsibilities for each and every one on your team. At a minimum, your team should include

a. Project manager or lead

b. Business user

c. Business analysts

d. Data architect and or data administrator

(8) Assumptions: this is a key element of any project, as you define the scope and success criteria, ensure that your assumptions are well documented and communicate them. Ensure your stakeholders, program sponsors and decision making authority are aligned. If you ever have to change any of the underlying assumption, secure alignment again.

(9) Risks and Risk Mitigation: every migration project is fraught with risk, if you remember an earlier post, I had outlined the success rate of projects and this paints a dismal picture. For every risk, ensure you have a risk mitigation plan. Document the risk and communicate your plans and secure alignment before proceeding.

"Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed here are my own only and in no way represent the views, positions or opinions - expressed or implied - of my employer (present and past) "
"Please post your comments - Swati Ranganathan"


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