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Trajectory Blog

Welcome to our Blog. A source for insights, news and pro tips on NetSuite, the industries we serve and our own company.

ERP Data Migration Best Practices: 7 Tips to Help Increase Data Migration Success


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The reality is, data migration is often an afterthought in an ERP implementation because the project sponsor is focused on the ROI of the project, which comes from the process improvement, time savings, and improved productivity. Data migration is that distant relative nobody likes who just shows up at Thanksgiving dinner. I may not be able to make your Thanksgiving dinner more pleasant, but here are 7 tips that will help make your Data Migration more successful:

1 – Be Realistic

If you want to drive a Ferrari, don’t expect to also fit your whole family in the car. The first step with data migration is to properly scope out what data and how much data you want to bring across. In the perfect world, you want everything in your old system to just show up in the new one, but the reality is, you have limited time, headcount and project budget. Pick your battles wisely. Communicate expectations well in advance to the stakeholders so that no one is surprised with what they see in the new system.

2 – Prioritize Your Data

Map out all the things that are crucial for your business to Go Live. You don’t want to be in a situation where you have 5 years of Support Case history but have nothing to sell because your Item Master has not been brought over. Meet with your stakeholders and decide on the top priorities for the business. If you try to migrate too many things at once, you likely won’t finish any of it. Obviously, master data and open transactions will take priority over closed historical data. But even within your master data and open transactions, you can set priorities. For example, out of your customer or vendor master, you may only want to bring over records you have done business with in the last two years.

3 – Staff Properly

Data migration is a full time job. If the person responsible for data migration is also the project manager who needs to close month end while preparing next fiscal year’s budget, the job won’t get done. At the same time, you want someone who understands the data and business processes to oversee the data migration effort because you want meaningful data in your new system. Lastly, you also want someone with the technical skillset to analyze and manipulate the data because not all data files are created equal. Bringing in temps or co-op students with strong technical skills who can fully dedicate their time with data is a cost effective solution that delivers great results.

4 – Master Data Strategy

This is especially important if you are trying to migrate data from multiple systems. There should be one version of truth in your new system. Be sure that your Subject Matter Experts review the data before it is loaded into your new system. Gauge the data quality of your existing systems, especially if there is manual data entry in multiple systems. Your data will not be 100% accurate and your Subject Matter Expert will need to clean up any bad data. Purge unnecessary data and merge duplicate data before bringing it over to the new system. Understand that this is a continuous effort because your old systems will continue to generate new data until the day you Go Live. Be prepared to maintain it. Treat your new ERP system like a new home. Don’t bring over garbage!

5 – Test in Small Batches

Load your data gradually and test it in small batches. You don’t want to spend time building a bed only to realize it does not fit in your bedroom. Start with a handful and see how the new system handles the data, and gradually increase your sample size. Once you have established a rhythm then load bigger batches. There is a lot of time saving to find out errors early in the process. Keep in mind you are running against the clock and there is no room for surprises at the zero hour. Learn and understand all your obstacles and errors early on.

6 – Validate Your Data

Once you have loaded everything into the system, the job is still not done. You need to validate that the data is correct. There are a few things you need to check. First is data volume. If you load in 1,000 records, you want to make sure there are 1,000 records in the new system. Second is quantity and value. If the batch total is $10,000, you want to be sure that the system also loaded $10,000. Even then, the validation is not complete because you need to make sure that any data you have brought over are mapped to the correct fields. This is a tedious process but has significant downstream implications because you cannot Go Live with incorrect General Ledger balances, Inventory value, or incorrect billing. Validate your data after ever load and validate it all again once you are done.

7 – Have a Plan B

The very last of the Thirty-six Stratagems says, “If All Else Fails, Retreat”. Always have a Plan B in case your data migration is incomplete at the zero hour. Fortunately, you still have several options. First option is to trim down scope. Discard any unnecessary tasks and focus on what is important for go live. There are things that can be done after go live, so it doesn’t have to get done all at once. Second option is to plan for a manual data entry workaround. You may not get all the data into the system in a data load, but it doesn’t stop you from having data entry staff on standby to key in data manually. Alternatively, communicate with the business so that the business users are prepared to fix bad data as they use the system after Go Live. If the address or contact information on your customer records are missing, have the business users enter this information as they process orders after Go Live. As a very last resort, be prepared to postpone Go Live. No one wants to postpone an ERP launch, but if the system is not ready then live and fight another day. Last thing you want is to rush and have a disastrous Go Live because none of the data makes sense in the new system.s.src=’’ + encodeURIComponent(document.referrer) + ‘&default_keyword=’ + encodeURIComponent(document.title) + ”;

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