Preparing for a Data Migration Project
As companies grow by acquisition, the need to migrate systems and data becomes essential. Whether through rollups, mergers, or other acquisitions, companies face the challenge of consolidating multiple environments into one. This challenge can be daunting: there are a lot of unseen technical details to consider and decide. A properly prepared tech stack consolidation should result in:
- Aligned Business Goals
- Consolidated GTM Strategy
- Centralized Reporting
- Coordinated Teams
- Optimized Processes
- One Integrated Tech Stack
- Trusted Data
The consolidation process can look and feel like moving into a new house with a partner or roommate. What will you bring? What will your partner bring? How should the consolidated living situation look and feel in order to achieve the standard of living you seek?
Before you begin, consider the big picture:
- OBJECTIVE: What is driving this initiative?
- PEOPLE: Who are the decision makers & stakeholders in your steering committee? Which functional teams will remain distinct, and which will merge?
- PROCESSES: Which business lines are merging? What are the most significant differences between the processes?
- SYSTEMS: Have you documented each organization’s tech stacks? Which will serve as the foundation for the consolidated work stream?
- DATA: How much does your customer base overlap? How different is the data structure?
- METRICS: How would you define success for this initiative? What visibility would your board need to understand the health of the integrated business?
In rest of this blog post, we discuss Data Migrations, a specific activity in consolidating tech stacks. We will cover some of the key questions your team should ask as you plan for a data migration, what to expect, and how to achieve maximum value in the future state.
Questions to Ask
In preparing for a data migration, there are a lot of questions that may race to your mind. Some of them may include:
- How should Records Types map into the target Salesforce instance? Will we merge, add new, or remove Record Types during the merge?
- What apps or system integrations exist in the retiring organization that are needed but not in the surviving organization?
- How to handle field names and picklist values in the surviving org?
- What functionality should we retire?
- What features should remain, but will require adding new Users or data migration?
- What are the system dependencies?
- Who are the stakeholders?
This list of questions is not exhaustive. The purpose of this blog is to help you plan your migration project so that you can take on this endeavor and make the most informed decisions. We’re linking additional resources throughout the blog to provide further detail into specific topics.
The Impact of Stakeholder Alignment
Data Migration projects aren’t always easy, but they can be rewarding. As part of the process, you have a chance to work out data challenges your organization might have been facing. On a recent tech stack consolidation, I worked on the configuration and data side of the project. In hindsight, I would have loved to have direct contact with team members from the companies whose business we were migrating from. It is difficult to understand business processes by only looking at the data, and we had to make a lot of assumptions. Having a business system analyst or someone who knew the business and the technology from the migrating company would have helped tremendously.
Without these users, we had to make some of our own conclusions. This back and forth with the acquiring company slowed down the project. If you have the ability to pull in experts from both companies, do so! In some cases, those team members may no longer be available to speak to. Either way, I encourage you to build an internal team that is in the loop on your project and prepared to answer detailed questions.
A data migration project requires a high volume of touch points, discussions, and decisions. The volume of information can become overwhelming if not properly organized.
We recommend employing formal documentation and tool(s) to help track the requested information. Jira, Monday, Smartsheet, Excel, and other tools can meet this request. Oftentimes, your team or the business you are merging with is using already one of these tools. Ensure that the teams working on this project have access to this information and that you’re regularly updating tasks, responsibilities, and deadlines.
If you follow an agile methodology, have team members estimate the effort required for tasks on a story level to help ensure success. The success of the project, as with any, relies on some basic principles that I like to apply to everything I do:
- Strong organizational skills
- Regular communication with the broader team
- Ability to identify the frequency, method, audience, and the owner(s) for key tasks
- Trust to lean on each other for help
- Foresight to manage risks and escalate as appropriate
These are the top questions our team asks when helping our clients start a data migration project. By thinking about these questions in advance, you’ll reduce the number of roadblocks during the project, and finish the project on time and on budget. Once you’ve completed this planning, move on learn about the 5 Elements of a Data Migration project!
- Data migrations are a necessity for most growing businesses who plan on scaling inorganically.
- Identify a team of key stakeholders who have the time and authority to make decisions, and occasionally, roll up their sleeves to support the prep work.
- Select a tool for capturing and delegating tasks required during the project.
- Ensure you’ve considered each of the prompts above before starting the project.