How to build an ERP data migration strategy
An organization’s data — whether it be inventory, product information, customer contact details, or transaction history — plays a crucial role in maintaining operations and developing strategies to drive business growth. However, many companies fail to establish an effective, scalable system for collecting and managing their data — leading to high operational costs, overly-complex workflows, flawed communication between teams, and other issues that stifle business productivity.
The reason for this — in many cases — is simply because the organization is running on outdated software. Legacy ERP systems have many limitations when it comes to integrating with certain third-party solutions and processing large amounts of data, forcing the business to create workarounds that become increasingly costly and cumbersome. By migrating to a modern ERP system, your company can centralize data from disparate applications, as well as automate repetitive, time-consuming tasks.
But the process of relocating data from one system to another — without losing critical information or disrupting live operations — is no simple task. In this article, we discuss the general approach and best practices for building an ERP data migration strategy. So if your business is looking to embrace automation and get a better handle on its data, keep reading!
Knowing when it’s time for ERP data migration
Despite the benefits of process automation and centralized data, many business stakeholders resist ERP data migration. In particular, mature enterprises in industries like healthcare, legal, and finance have been running operations the same way for many years — and are intimidated by the necessary commitment of time, money, and resources for a successful implementation.
As digital technology advances, being stuck in the old ways of doing business will create even more problems, namely high operational costs, poor customer experiences, and unhappy employees. At a certain point, ERP migration becomes an inevitable requirement for growing businesses. Here are the main signs of an outdated legacy system:
Legacy ERP systems typically store different types of data in different locations, making it near impossible to attain a complete view of the organization. Information around clients, products, suppliers, and partners can be centralized via modern ERP so teams can access and visualize it from a single dashboard. This involves building and maintaining integrations between various systems, such as your business’ CRM, inventory management, and eCommerce platform.
Manual, time-consuming, and error-prone workflows
With data flowing seamlessly between various business applications, you can eliminate manual data entry and other redundant tasks that slow down operations. For example, when a customer purchases a product on your website, a modern ERP system will send all necessary information wherever it needs to go to fulfill that order. Credit card details are sent to the payment gateway, product SKU numbers are sent to the inventory management system, shipping information is sent to the third-party logistics provider, and so on.
Under an outdated legacy ERP, this information has to be manually approved and directed from one application to another, which requires significant time and effort, while also creating a lot of room for human error. It also means that the customer has to wait longer to receive their purchase. If this sounds like your business’ current order fulfillment process, then your ERP system has likely reached the end of its life.
A lack of IT support
Older software runs on programming languages that only a small number of developers are experienced in using. As more time goes by and more advanced software becomes available, finding talented developers that are proficient in legacy ERP systems becomes increasingly difficult. So when your business’ technical support team either moves on or retires, you’ll have a very limited pool of talent to recruit from. By modernizing your software, you can make your company more attractive to the next generation of developers.
Evaluating ERP data migration vendors
As a business owner, you don’t have the time or technical expertise to audit your organization’s tech stack, implement new ERP software, build out custom integrations, run tests, and so on. Therefore, the first step in launching a successful ERP data migration strategy is partnering with a digital transformation expert like Codal.
When evaluating different ERP migration vendors, here are some key factors to keep in mind:
- Industry experience: Does the vendor have experience building, optimizing, and managing ERP systems in your industry? Reading case studies and client testimonials is an excellent way to figure out if they’re right for the job.
- Technical resources: How many developers does the vendor employ? And what software or specialties does their team of developers cover? It’s important to partner with a development team that’s proficient in the top ERP software solutions. Here at Codal, we most regularly work with NetSuite, Epicor, and SAP to build out system integrations for our clients.
- Timeline & budget: Does the vendor have the necessary tools and resources to meet your business’ timeline and budget? Depending on the complexity of your operations, implementing a new ERP system can take anywhere from eight weeks to eighteen months. Codal employs developers from all around the world — particularly in the US, UK, and India — so we’re able to work around the clock on projects with quick turnaround times.
Mapping out your ERP data migration strategy
While every strategy is different, depending on the organization’s unique goals and requirements, there are certain activities crucial for a successful ERP data migration. In collaboration with your business’ data migration partner, your team will need to check off the following items:
- Identify and analyze all business data: Your business collects a wide range of data, and not all of it needs to be moved to the new system. Take inventory of your data, then determine what’s most important and make sure that it’s accurate when planning your migration. This process is often referred to as “data cleansing.”
- Establish priorities: What are your goals and expectations for the updated ERP system? If you’re an eCommerce company, harnessing real-time data for speedy and transparent order fulfillment may be the top priority — whereas if you’re a healthcare provider, you might prioritize data security so that your business can maintain HIPAA compliance.
- Choose between on-premise vs cloud-based ERP: When mature companies modernize their legacy ERP, they usually switch from on-premise to cloud-based systems — as this saves significant time, money, and manpower in the long run. However, some companies — usually for compliance reasons — require an on-premise solution for managing highly sensitive data.
- Define where data should live in the new system: Modern ERP software will facilitate data synchronization between your business’ in-house and third-party applications. But different teams will need access to different types of data, so it’s important to nail down exactly who needs what, then build the system around those requirements. For instance, any information relevant to sales and marketing should be readily accessible from your business’ CRM platform.
- Build out integrations: Some ERP solutions have pre-built integrations for regularly-used software. For example, NetSuite provides “out-of-the-box” middleware for connecting to BigCommerce and Shopify. So if your online store is powered by one of those eCommerce platforms, integrating your website with your ERP is relatively straightforward. More custom business solutions, on the other hand, will require a more tailored approach to developing and managing middleware.
- Test the system: Before launching the new ERP system, your data migration partner should conduct tests to ensure that information doesn’t get lost or stored in the wrong place. Frequent testing at each stage of the development process is key to a successful migration.
- Train your team: In addition to automated tasks, your new ERP will introduce new workflows and communication methods between teams. It’s imperative to train your employees on these updated processes — and collect their feedback — before the new system goes live.
- Deploy new software: In most cases, ERP data migration strategies are rolled out in several stages. This allows you to get the most important integrations up and running as quickly as possible.
- Track its performance: Your data migration team should closely monitor the performance of new ERP integrations to make sure everything goes according to plan, prevent issues before they occur, and identify additional improvement opportunities.
Team up with Codal for superior ERP data migration
As discussed, pulling off a successful ERP data migration strategy — one that aligns with your business goals, requirements, budget, and timeline — requires a team of highly-skilled and experienced digital transformation experts. By partnering with Codal, you’ll have access to an award-winning team, made up of the industry’s most talented software engineers — who have executed ERP migration strategies for a wide range of organizations over the past decade.
Our team will help choose the best ERP solution for your business, implement that software into your existing technological infrastructure, build out custom integrations, migrate data to the new system, run tests, conduct training sessions for updated processes, and provide ongoing maintenance and support. This transformation will allow your company to harness the full power of its data, as well as eliminate highly repetitive, manual workflows.
Interested in learning more about how ERP data migration can produce lower operational costs, higher productivity, and greater scalability for your business? Reach out to Codal today!