Six Ways Manufacturers can Make ERP Data Migration Easier

ArMand Nelson, Director of Strategy

Managing and maintaining quality data is an ongoing battle, and one that most manufacturers aren’t excited about taking on. It’s tedious and time-consuming to make sure every field is correct, each duplicate is removed and every record is up to date.

But when it’s time to switch to a new ERP, data quality has to be a top priority. One of the biggest impacts a manufacturer can have on the efficiency and speed of an ERP project is cleaning up data before the work kicks off, because cleaning it up during the actual implementation will only add time and cost to the project.

You know your data and your current ERP system, so it’s best to clean data up there. Here are a few tips on where to prioritize your efforts.

Pick your approach There are two approaches to data clean-up: Extract everything and put it in a spreadsheet to clean and re-import, or have a developer write scripts to update the data within the ERP. The “right” approach depends on your in-house expertise and comfort level.

Be consistent Ensure consistency in upper and lowercase letters, make sure everything is spelled correctly, and make sure fields like addresses and descriptions are completely filled out.

Know what the data should be To get your data in good shape, it would help to know what it should look like in the new ERP system and downstream systems.  What are the field lengths? Do you need to remove special characters? Have you purged duplicate customers, vendors and items so you’re not migrating bad data?

Don’t convert everything at once! There’s a tendency to convert everything and deal with it later, but that can cause big complications down the road. Purge the records and data you don’t need and keep only the data that’s necessary. Or, if you’re not sure whether you’ll need it, you can convert the data at a later phase, or keep the old system for a while in case you need to access the older data.

Find the orphans a home Look for orphan records and delete them. Someone might have created a shipment against an order but didn’t receive anything on the shipment and didn’t delete it. You can also consider changing delete parameters to help delete data you do not want to convert, or use scripts to identify the orphan data, validate it and delete the records.

Test, test and test Start in a test environment and then graduate to running a small number of records in production to make sure everything works as expected. And of course, always have a back-up you can restore.

Cleaning up data is a big undertaking and it’s important to maintain the quality you worked so hard to get. Train users thoroughly on the new system, put gates in place to keep users from creating bad data, and set up rules to safeguard the data as much as possible. If you don’t have the in-house resources to get your data in order, or if you need help prioritizing what to do and when, talk with your ERP’s system integrator (SI) for the project. Your SI can give you guidance and best practices each step of the way.