Data migration and integration is a specialist activity that demands specialist support, particularly if the project involves complex data. If you don’t possess the necessary skills or migration tools in-house, then you need a partner with the expertise to tackle tough projects. The challenge is: there are many data migration and data integration vendors, so how do you choose the right partner for your project? Here are seven areas to consider.
The right partner knows which rocks to look under. They will be able to identify problem areas early on, instead of reaching the final stages with a hundred different issues to sort out. In particular, a partner who follows a set of standards will be able to identify problems at the earliest possible opportunity, enabling you to mitigate the risks. For instance, at ETL Solutions we use the Prince2 project management standard, and also use ISO standards where appropriate to underpin our methodology for migrating data.
If you’re not sure what methodology to use or how long it will take, or if you haven’t carried out a data migration before, then you would benefit from a partner who offers a scoping exercise. This evaluates areas such as in-house skills, the quality of your data, the project’s timings and the migration tools required to complete the project successfully. The aim is to identify gaps and risks.
A robust methodology is essential if you want a staged, well-managed approach. Most data migration and data integration vendors have a methodology; ours is a tried-and-tested, six-step approach that covers the key stages of a data migration project. It spans from initial set-up (ensuring that you have the right people and equipment in place) through to data assessment, the core migration and legacy decommissioning.
How widely used are the vendor’s migration tools? Have they been used before to migrate data in your industry? You need to be sure that the vendor’s software will do the job, and that the people on the project are experienced or trained in using them.
If the partner is providing consultants, check that they will be available for the duration of the project. The vendor should provide a project manager and a technical lead, giving you consistency and direction from start to finish. In terms of the in-house team, at ETL Solutions we check the required skills for you. Our staff competency assessment is carried out to INCOSE standards, and charts the team’s skills footprint against the roles that they are taking on.
It can be hugely beneficial to work with a data migration vendor who has operated in a variety of different environments and industries. At the same, time the partner should also have prior experience of data migration in your particular industry. A domain expert is also essential, whether within your organisation or supplied by the vendor.
How much control will your partner give you over the data migration process? Does your organisation require you to be updated at each step? Our methodology enables us to be open in what we do. Our plans are clearly defined, so that you will know exactly what we are doing and when we are doing it, so that you can track and monitor the migration as closely as you wish. We believe trust and transparency are extremely important – and they help projects run to time, spec and budget.
The importance of these seven areas will vary according to the detail and complexity of the project, but assessing these areas will help you choose exactly the right partner.