Times change, and the old way of doing things just isn’t working out.
In companies and organizations across the world, the story repeats itself with more frequency now than perhaps in all of history. That’s because of the relentless pace of change that’s happening in technology.
Seems like you are upgrading systems and adopting new programs more frequently than the break room coffee pot gets cleaned. And if only it were as easy as plug-and-play. Instead, you need to get all the existing information into your new tools.
Time for a data conversion.
Those two words have been known to prompt gasps in conference rooms. But don’t let yourself worry too much. With a little bit of know-how and the right partner, a data conversion doesn’t have to be painful at all.
Defining what is a data conversion
A data conversion is the transformation or translation of information from various sources into a new format for use in a new system.
In a basic data conversion process, you:
- Identify data sources.
- Identify data destinations.
- Transform the data.
- Load the data and review.
Identify data sources
Review where the data is coming from and identify information that might be missing or inconsistent.
Identify data destinations
Create the databases and systems into which the transformed data will be loaded.
Transform the data
Engineers do the heads-down work of translating the data from what worked with the old system into a format that will work with the new system.
Load the data and review
Load, review, and test the data for accuracy in the new destination test environment.
Finding a supportive partner
Leveraging a well-defined and repeatable data conversion process is crucial. Otherwise, data silos in your organization are unavoidable when you are using multiple applications to create, analyze, or store your data.
The best way to leverage a solid process is to choose a partner with proven experience in data conversion.
But how do you know who to trust?
First off, common-sense due diligence applies just as much here as in any other business transaction. Look for someone who is eager to consult with you and find solutions to your challenges. Find someone with years of experience, a track record of success, and a team of experts.
Not only do you need to trust that your partner will succeed, but you also need to trust that they will do everything they can to set you up to succeed as well.
That means training and support for your staff are critical.
Moving data is one thing. But moving people from an old way of doing things into a new way of doing things can be just as complicated.
When training and support are done well though, your employees will be excited about the change as they see how new systems and processes will improve their work lives.
Ask how your prospective partner will provide training and support through each of the four basic data conversion processes identified above.
Avoiding internal pitfalls
Choosing the right provider is perhaps the most significant obstacle, but it’s not the only one.
You’ll have to get everyone in your organization on board with change. And that’s never easy.
But if you know what to look out for, you have a better chance of navigating these uncertain waters a little more easily.
The problem: Unclear communication across team(s)
The solution: Start by creating a communications plan and make it easily accessible to everyone. The plan should include details on a shared electronic communications channel. (Are you going to use Microsoft Teams or Slack, for example.) Finally, solicit feedback on how to communicate more effectively.
The problem: Ambiguous goals
The solution: Work together to establish a clear purpose. It’s okay to set challenging goals, but make sure they are realistic. And define events and milestones to measure progress and build a sense of momentum.
The problem: Leadership stuck in old ways
The solution: First, identify an executive-level change champion who can help get the rest of leadership on board. Make sure to communicate often, and tie project goals to overall business objectives.
The problem: Culture of collaboration not established
The solution: If factions arise, highlight areas of overlapping interest. Build a foundation by tackling easier-to-solve issues before moving on to more complex problems.
Moving forward with confidence
Data conversion is a comprehensive and complicated event that should be approached with care and a forward-thinking mindset.
But don’t allow it to paralyze you with worry. Define the conversion process, arm yourself with a basic understanding, get everyone on board, and then find the right partner.
With this combination of internal motivation and external experience, a data conversion can not only be successful, but also lead to big improvements in how you work.