As Chief Customer Officer at Syniti, I've sat in on many, many data migration journeys over the years. At any given time, we're running 60 active projects simultaneously, and we’re usually actively engaged with at least 11 out of the 30 companies in the DOW. It’s safe to say, we’ve seen our fair share of data transformations, and they’ve run the gamut in terms of complexity.
After over 25 years of migrating data for all kinds of businesses, we’ve learned many people, no matter the type of database migration, often make the mistake of approaching it purely from a technical perspective. In order to guarantee a successful, even boring go-live, however, we’ve devised a repeatable migration approach that goes beyond the “lift and shift” of data and actually accelerates migration timelines.
What is a data migration “go-live?”
Before we talk about our process for data center migrations, let’s break down what we mean by a successful migration go-live.
When considering migrating to SAP S/4HANA, for example, people may not think about a data migration. Why do you need it?
To put it in perspective, picture you’re buying your next iPhone. You’ll need to migrate your contacts, phone records, and apps from one device to your new one. What would make this application migration successful? Obviously, you don’t want to load your brand-new device with old information, apps you no longer use, or duplicate contacts. We all have those phone contacts with no last name, address, or some identifiable information listed, and no way to be sure it’s the right person you’re searching for. If you can't tell which is the record you need, you may enter that information again, creating even more duplicate records.
This migration of data is not totally unlike an enterprise moving data between new systems or databases, albeit on a much smaller scale. Even with only one user, it’s easy to see how this outdated or incomplete data can impede the functionality of your new device. Instead of a “go-live” on your new phone, you end up with a “productivity dip”. Despite all the new features, extra memory and power of your new device, you’ll actually be less efficient after your go-live than before. It’s not because the phone is slow, it’s because the data poured into it is bad.
What makes a “Boring Go-Live"?
In a commercial or large business sense, that idea of a productivity dip translates to things like being able to pick-and-pack or ship-and-deliver just the same as the day before a go-live, and at the same velocity or better than you did before.
Years ago, organizations actually had to plan for that productivity dip after a migration go-live. This meant stocking up on inventory, hiring more people, and other extremely expensive propositions. The goal has been to actually plan for a productivity dip in order to optimize the business and the data.
The goal of a “Boring” go-live, alternatively, is not just to avoid that productivity dip, but actually have an increase in productivity and long-term value.
For a successful Boring Go-Live, you need to invest in a repeatable, multi-phased migration approach. When we talk about Syniti’s eight-step approach to implementing data migrations, for example, we’re thinking not just about the software, but training the staff, utilizing the methodology, and what happens even after go-live. So that every time you perform a migration – because your first is most likely not going to be your last – that data and that process gets better and better.
These days, it's not just these large, multinational enterprises moving to the cloud or systems like S/4HANA. Mid-size and even small businesses need to migrate data all the time but don’t have the millions or billions of dollars in budget to spend “getting it right.” Leveraging the experience of an organization like Syniti and a repeatable framework for migrations becomes infinitely more valuable.
Why is a Boring Go-Live so important?
Anyone who's gone through a data migration before knows the pain that can come with it. But for someone who's never undergone a migration before, it's hard to visualize just how important and complex they are.
After 3-4,000 go-lives here at Syniti, we know full well that data is the DNA of your business. Maybe when you first hear that, you might roll your eyes. But consider this: the data in your system existed in your prior system, and it's in your current system, and it will be in your next. Meaning, that data is equally as important or more than the application of that processes. It’s the name of your customers, and the people you buy from, the name of the things you make and its’ characteristics.
“For a successful data center migration, we need to think about moving not just the business data but the enterprise users along the migration journey”
Recently, we were working with an organization in a heavily regulated industry and looking to take about 30,000 users live in one day. Not only did we migrate the customers and the materials and the vendors, but we were also involved in “user provisioning.” Users had to be loaded into the system and assigned user roles and what kind of transactions they would be allowed to do, like allowing a customer service representative to create a Salesforce record.
Because this was a regulated environment, we had to ensure the required tracks were taken before users could be assigned a particular role. On the inverse, if critical users were blocked access from certain tasks, that migration timeline and value would have been put at risk. Optimizing data doesn’t just mean transferring to a new data warehouse but optimizing the end state of a migration so users throughout feel the business benefit.
Generating Value Throughout the Business with a Multi-Phased Migration
Whether migrating a legacy system to the cloud or moving to SAP S/4HANA, any intelligent data migration should bear in mind the end users throughout the business. It’s easy to focus purely on the technical aspects of a migration journey. For end users outside of data services, however, the steps towards a data center migration might just be another obstacle to getting the answers they need.
For a successful data center migration, we need to think about moving not just the business data but the enterprise users along the migration journey. For example, there’s the project managers, who typically focus on how to accelerate migrations and reduce risk. There’s the budget owners, who want to keep costs in line. And then there’s the C-suite, who’s obviously looking to migration software and services investments to generate as much extra value as they can.
From the server room all the way up the organization to the board room, leveraging a repeatable migration framework like the Boring Go-Live can help users readily leverage modern applications and systems on the day of the go-live.
For the project manager, there's automation and AI/ML solutions that can accelerate migration timelines. Features like deduplication and data quality controls make human-like comparisons while processing millions of records in minutes and ultimately optimize the end state. When it comes to budget, we perform a gap analysis early in the migration process by testing with real data, so go-live timelines aren’t derailed and moved. At the C-level, we’re optimizing the whole business by getting rid of the duplicate spare parts, duplicate customers, and even duplicate vendors to improve volume discounts.
The right technology executes the data migration, but a strategic, multi-phased approach is what guarantees a successful migration – for the quality of the data, for the users, and for the business.
Want to implement a Boring Go Live migration every time? Register here for this on-demand webinar to learn about successful data migration strategies.