Wednesday, 24 August 2016

ERP Data Conversions - Best Practices and Steps

ERP Data Conversions - Best Practices and Steps

Every company who has gone through an ERP project has gone through the painful process of getting the data ready for the new system. The process of executing this typically goes through the following steps:

(1) Extract or define

(2) Clean and transform

(3) Load

(4) Validate and verify

This process is typically executed multiple times (2 - 5+ times depending on complexity) through an ERP project to ensure that the good data ends up in the new system. If the data is either incorrect, not well enough cleaned or adjusted or loaded incorrectly in to the new system it can cause serious problems as the new system is launched.

(1) Extract or define

This involves extracting the data from legacy systems, which are to be decommissioned. In some cases the data may not exist in a legacy system, as the old process may be spreadsheet-based and has to be created from scratch. Typically this involves creating some extraction programs or leveraging existing reports to get the data in to a format which can be put in to a spreadsheet or a data management application.

(2) Data cleansing

Once extracted it normally reviewed is for accuracy by the business, supported by the IT team, and/or adjusted if incorrect or in a structure which the new ERP system does not understand. Depending on the level of change and data quality this can represent a significant effort involving many business stakeholders and required to go through multiple cycles.

(3) Load data to new system

As the data gets structured to a format which the receiving ERP system can handle the load programs may also be build to handle certain changes as part of the process of getting the data converted in to the new system. Data is loaded in to interface tables and loaded in to the new system's core master data and transactions tables.

When loading the data in to the new system the inter-dependency of the different data elements is key to consider and validate the cross dependencies. Exceptions are dealt with and go in to lessons learned and to modify extracts, data cleansing or load process in to the next cycle.

(4) Validate and verify

The final phase of the data conversion process is to verify the converted data through extracts, reports or manually to ensure that all the data went in correctly. This may also include both internal and external audit groups and all the key data owners. Part of the testing will also include attempting to transact using the converted data successfully.

The topmost success factors or best practices to execute a successful conversion I would prioritize as follows:

(1) Start the data conversion early enough by assessing the quality of the data. Starting too late can result in either costly project delays or decisions to load garbage and "deal with it later" resulting in an increase in problems as the new system is launched.

(2) Identify and assign data owners and customers (often forgotten) for the different elements. Ensure that not only the data owners sign-off on the data conversions but that also the key users of the data are involved in reviewing the selection criteria's, data cleansing process and load verification.

(3) Run sufficient enough rounds of testing of the data, including not only validating the loads but also transacting with the converted data.

(4) Depending on the complexity, evaluate possible tools beyond spreadsheets and custom programming to help with the data conversion process for cleansing, transformation and load process.

(5) Don't under-estimate the effort in cleansing and validating the converted data.

(6) Define processes and consider other tools to help how the accuracy of the data will be maintained after the system goes live.


No comments:

Post a Comment