Data migration isn’t typically considered very glamorous. In fact, many life and pensions senior managers are frustrated by the tremendous efforts necessary to prevent failure during data migration projects. But data migration processes do share some similar qualities to big Hollywood productions (in addition to the tendency to go over budget).

No Baggage on Board, Please

Directors and producers notoriously hate working with actors and actresses who are difficult. Likewise, life and pensions organizations would be wise not to take on toshutterstock_93089554o much “baggage” during data migration.

There is a strong tendency to take all the historical data from the old system into the new one. In reality, the new system only needs the data that is required for its operational purposes. The rest of the data is of no use going forward and serves only as a record of what the old system held. The business rationale here is that ‘we may get an enquiry about it’. The reality is that such enquiries are rare and the approach above of fixing data when the opportunity arises is a powerful way of cleaning up past problems when they emerge.

Some organisations spend a six-figure sum on building an archive database for the old system data, only to find that after the first week nobody looks at it anymore.

If you must have a copy of the old system, then keep it simple – make it a back-up that is either accessed through a read-only version of the old system, or via a request for a database query – or even a request to recall the original paperwork from storage.

Rehearse, Rehearse, Rehearse

Like a well-oiled Hollywood set, the best migrations are ones where everybody involved knows what they are doing – and when – because they have been through the process multiple times during testing.

You should be confident come migration weekend that the whole process will run end-to-end during the available time. It will be even better if you have a good idea of how many data items will fail to load (and what the post-migration approach is for these).

For more data migration tips, please check out the guide that this blog post was adapted from: “11 Tips for Successful Data Migration.”

Pete Ryan is a principal consultant at Sapiens based in the UK. He possesses extensive knowledge of solution architecture, requirements analysis, project delivery and IT strategy. 

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