5 Steps to a successful data migration

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Our world is becoming increasingly digital. Technological innovations are common, and businesses are no exception. These innovations have a major impact on your business processes. Keeping up with the digital transformation sometimes means switching to other systems, such as a new ERP system. Data migration is a key part of these transitions. But what approach is most effective? This blog post describes 5 steps for successful data migration to a new system.

The impact of a new system

One side effect of digitalisation: organisations are dealing with more and more data. That massive volume of data requires innovative approaches to data storage and processing. New systems provide opportunities for these approaches. Options could include access to mobile devices and user interfaces for that purpose.

Transitioning to a new system has a major impact on the organisation. Important points to consider include:
• Adapting to modified technology and hardware;
• Changing business processes;
• Training the organisation;
• Moving data from source system to target system.

That last point is data migration. However, data migration often receives insufficient attention during the transition to the new system. This is unwarranted, because the foundation of any new system is accurate and complete data. A new system cannot be successfully commissioned until the data is secured. After all, without data there can be no information, no processing, and no analysis.

5-Step Plan for Data Migration

Many organisations struggle with the process of data migration. Why? Because data migration can be a complex process and is often time-consuming. Proper preparation is therefore essential to achieve successful implementation. To ensure an effective and efficient data migration process, it is important for organisations to follow these 5 basic steps of data migration:

1. Orientation and Preparation;
2. Analysis;
3. Execution;
4. Validation;
5. Go-Live.

An important note: the migration should be carried out by a dedicated migration team. This team works closely with the business systems team (or ERP team) and the business consultants. The business systems team is responsible for setting up the new system. Business consultants are involved to make sure the processes are running properly, and are responsible for configuration.

1. Orientation and Preparation

During the Orientation and Preparation step, we determine which legacy data will be carried over to the new system, and which will not. Under the supervision of the data migration team, this scope is defined during workshops that include representatives from the business and from IT. The data model of the new system is leading here, since this determines which data objects should be migrated. Examples include customers, suppliers and products.

2. Analysis

In the Analysis step, each field in the new (target) system is associated with the corresponding field in the old (source) system, based on the defined scope of data migration objects. This requires a clear overview of the source systems, so the mapping can be adapted accordingly. It is also important to establish how these legacy fields will be extracted and converted (translated for use in the new system). Another important factor in this step is to determine the order in which data migration objects should be loaded into the target system. Now we have identified what we need for the whole process: Extract, Translate and Load (ETL). Finally, the Analysis step includes data quality assessment. The cleaner and better your data is, the more efficient your business processes will be after the transition. Ideally, you want to start using the new system based on the best possible data you can provide. In practice, that involves data cleansing in your source systems.

3. Execution

Once the ETL process is ready and you are clear on the order in which data objects will be migrated, the Execution step can begin. Effectively, the migration takes place in this step. This generally involves running the migration process several times in the designated testing and acceptance environments. As a result, data migration is an iterative process, aiming to improve the quality of the migrated data with each iteration. Please note that the Execution step cannot take place until the systems are ready and configured.

4. Validation

After each migration load, the data is validated. The data migration team and the business each have a role to play in the Validation step. The data migration team focuses on ensuring that the data loaded into the target system is complete, while the business not only performs a completeness check, but also looks at the quality of the migrated data. After all, it is important to confirm that the data is correct and that the new processes are working as expected. As stated, this requires a number of iteration cycles. This means that data cleansing continues in this step as well. After the business signs off on data quality, following a number of iterations, you are ready to start migrating your data to the production environment.

5. Go-Live

Once all 4 previous phases have been completed successfully, it is time for the final data migration. Before initiating migration to production, the data migration team provides input to the cut-over manager for the overall cut-over plan. (This cut-over plan is generally tested one or more times during the migration iterations to ensure that the actual go-live goes as smoothly as possible.) As soon as all the data has been transferred to production, and the business has signed off that the data is correct and complete, the new system can go live.


The 5-step plan described above provides initial guidance for a data migration. Reality is always more complex than these basic guidelines. As a result, organisations often cannot manage easily on their own – and no wonder, since most organisations don’t do this on a daily basis. External assistance is often worth considering. The data management consultants at Tentive have years of experience in migrating data to new and existing systems. Tentive has successfully completed data migration projects for many clients. Is your organisation planning a data migration process in the near future? And could you use support along the way? Feel free to contact us. We would be happy to sit down with you to discuss our migration approach and how we work.