Data Migration: Planning for a Smooth Transition

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When implementing a new cloud-based application, there will very likely be data you want to migrate to the new system. Whether you are fully replacing an existing application or simply moving data from Excel spreadsheets over to the new application, you should have a plan in place to move the data cleanly and smoothly.

1.) Identify core data elements
Having a clear understanding of which data is important to move into the new system is the first step. Data mapping details are usually defined in a scope of work, but there are instances in which the details are not clearly spelled out. Making sure everyone has the same expectations is critical.

2.) Identify supporting elements
Now that we have identified the data elements we want to import, we need to determine if there are any supporting data elements required. For example, if you’re thinking about migrating Instructor-Led classes over to your Learning Management System (LMS), you will likely need to import all metadata associated with the relevant locations and instructors for these classes. Also, any fields that have a list of values associated to them will need to be re-populated in the new application.

3.) One-time vs. ongoing
Determine which elements need to be migrated just once versus those that need to be part of an ongoing data feed. For ongoing elements, determine the frequency and timing that needs to occur. Additionally, you will need to determine which files will be provided to you, i.e., full files or deltas (changes to the data since the last time the feed ran).

4.) Historical data
There are a few key areas to consider when you are bringing over historical data such as student transcripts:

  • How far back in time should you pull the historical data?
  • Should you bring everything or just objects with certain statuses?
  • Are there any regulatory considerations?

  • Try to be as consistent as possible when determining which data is migrated vs. which is not migrated.

5.) Mapping
Now that we know exactly which data we want to bring over, we need to determine how it will fit into our new system. This involves doing a field-by-field determination of where every data element will live and how to set other properties such as default values on the objects we are importing.

Typically, a data element will need to feed multiple objects in the new application. For example, courses may touch upon classes, transcripts, rules, etc. Be sure to have a mapping of all objects that are required to support this effort.

Stay tuned for Part 2! We will share the things you should consider when generating files.

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