Office 365

7 Essential Steps for Your Data Migration Plan

Data migrations can be very beneficial for your organization. Switching from a legacy system to a more advanced ...


Data migrations can be very beneficial for your organization. Switching from a legacy system to a more advanced alternative can increase productivity and reduce frustration. However, even the most promising migration can still be a daunting task. There can be a lot riding on a successful migration. Fortunately, the right data migration plan can help to ensure that your data migration process is smooth and effective.

There is no one-size-fits-all plan for migrating data. Every data set is different, and every organization has different requirements. Therefore, it is essential to invest the necessary time into evaluating your data migration goals and needs. From there, you can build out a unique and complete data migration plan that will help you to achieve the desired results.

The following seven steps can guide you through the process of crafting the perfect data migration plan.

7-Essential-Steps-for-Your-Data-Migration-Plan1. Identify the Current Status of Your Data

Like any other project, a data migration plan should start with assessing your current data status. Specifically, you should identify all the data that needs to be migrated, where it is stored, its current format and the preferred format after migration.

It is good to start creating a data migration checklist that details the specific tasks that need to be completed to realize the data migration plan.

It’s likely that some data will be handled differently after the migration (after all, you are migrating data for a reason). Therefore, it is beneficial to invest significant time into the planning phases to ensure that everything is sufficiently thought out. It can be challenging to make changes once your data migration is already underway. So, ideally, you want to know exactly how data will be moved from one system to the next and how it will be transformed if necessary.

Keep in mind that some data will require additional security considerations. For example, the new data system and the transfer process need to be secured appropriately.

2. Determine the Size and Scope of the Data Migration Plan

With the above planning in mind, it is time to scope the data migration plan.

During this stage, it is a good idea to start building out a more comprehensive data migration plan document that includes all the necessary resources that will be required for a successful process. If you haven’t yet, this is the time to start seriously planning your budget. As you build out the plan, you can attribute your budget to different resources and ensure that your scope is realistic.

Analyze both the source and target systems to help create a flexible timeline for your migration. It is also a good idea to perform a critical path analysis to determine the most important steps at every stage of data migration. Finally, your data migration approach should be planned to minimize the disruptions to productivity, even if it takes longer than expected.

Your expected timeline and budget should be communicated to all stakeholders. This is an excellent opportunity to get feedback that will increase the likelihood of success.

3. Assess Current Ability To Execute Data Migration Plan

Once you have created your data migration plan, it is time to assess your current capability to perform the data migration. These processes can be complicated and often require substantial expertise. Therefore, it is essential to be realistic about your team’s present abilities and familiarity with a data migration process.

Keep in mind that there may be obstacles along the way. For example, files may arrive corrupt, missing or incomplete in the target system. Additionally, data migration steps may fail unexpectedly. Having the right expertise to identify, analyze and resolve these issues is essential. Ideally, every team moving data to a new system should have at least one person with significant data migration experience.

Beyond expertise, you may also need to add new data tools to aid the migration. The types of technology that you will need were likely discovered during the earlier steps. However, at this point, you will need to identify specific tools and acquire them if needed.

It is better to outsource the process to an experienced team in many cases. Not only does this mean that your data migration will be in the hands of experts, but also it will mean that your team can focus on other data and IT needs for your organization. At Cloudficient, we are well placed to help you with over 100 years of team experience in performing migrations.

If you'd like to find out more about bringing cloudficiency to your project, reach out to us.

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4. Ensure Data Is Backed Up

Effective data backup procedures should be part of your data management plan even when you aren’t migrating. However, as with any other change to your data, a migration requires extra care for backups.

Ideally, all data should be backed up as immediately before the migration as possible. Additionally, it is typically a good idea to have multiple forms of backups. One of the best ways to deal with data backups is to use the cloud. Having an off-site cloud backup means that your data will be protected even if the location of your servers is compromised for some reason; however, for very large data sets, this might not be possible for some organizations.

If you already have your data in the cloud, consider making both a cloud-based backup and a local backup of your data. This will allow you to quickly restore your databases in the event of an issue. Since backing up data can take time and migrations can cause disruptions, these are typically scheduled for weekends or another downtime period.

Even the most well-planned data migrations may have interruptions or errors due to unavoidable circumstances such as power outages. So don’t take risks with your data; back it all up, if possible.

5. Execute Data Migration Plan

Once you have the right plan and resources, it is time to execute your data migration plan. In theory, this should be a straightforward matter of following your data migration checklist. At this point, having a thorough data migration checklist can make it easier to execute the steps of the plan consistently and successfully.

Data wrangling and cleaning are often applied when migrating data, especially large and complex data sets. Furthermore, some migrations call for the data to be transformed to be ready for the new system. The tools for transforming that data will need to be in place and ready before you begin data migration.

Throughout your data migration, the team should be monitoring the progress. As mentioned, there are sometimes unavoidable issues or problems that couldn’t reasonably be predicted. Identifying and fixing these issues promptly will help to ensure that the migration is successful even if such an obstacle arises.

6. Assess Data Migration Results

Once your data migration plan has been fully executed, it is time to evaluate the results.

This should start with verifying the integrity of the data on the target system. If you have been monitoring the progress, there will likely be few, if any, surprises about the transferred data. Nonetheless, it is always a good idea to check for corrupt, missing, misformatted or otherwise incorrect data. This can typically be done with automated tests, especially if the data set is large.

You should also confirm that the new data set meets all your access and security requirements. Again, if you had a good data migration plan that was carefully executed, there should be few surprises here. However, since you will soon make this new system your live data environment, it is good to double-check.

Unit, system, volume, integration, batch and web-based application testing can provide a lot of useful data. Which of those you should use will depend on available time and resources and the data volumes involved. For some teams, it is helpful to pilot the new system with the migrated data with a select group before going wide. However, keep in mind that a pilot running on one system with other users using the old system can cause some issues.

7. Follow-Up and Finalize Data Migration

Finally, it is time to evaluate the data migration itself. A comprehensive audit of the process and its results will help you to ensure that there are no lingering issues that could cause problems down the road. Your testing in the previous step should have identified any errors that would have caused immediate difficulties, but there can sometimes be data issues that aren’t immediately obvious. 

It is also a good idea to have a retrospective of the process. During this, the involved team members and other stakeholders can discuss what went well and what could be improved. Even if you do not anticipate making another migration again in the near future, it is useful to learn relevant lessons from the data migration planning process. This can provide useful insights into better managing your organization’s data.

Ensure a Successful Data Migration With Cloudficient

With the above seven steps, you will be able to successfully migrate data from one system to another. Of course, the details of the data migration plan are crucial. In particular, doing sufficient research during the planning steps (one through three) is essential to success in the later phases. Therefore, it is important to have an experienced leader take charge of your data migration.

If you prefer to outsource your data migration plan to a knowledgeable team with industry-leading technologies, contact Cloudficient. We specialize in cloud migration services, including onboarding for Office 365, Enterprise Vault migration, compliance migrations and more. With our help, you can be confident that your data migration process will be completed on budget, on-time and according to your requirements.

With unmatched next generation migration technology, Cloudficient is revolutionizing the way businesses retire legacy systems and transform their organization into the cloud. Our business constantly remains focused on client needs and creating product offerings that match them. We provide affordable services that are scalable, fast and seamless.

If you would like to learn more about how to bring Cloudficiency to your migration project, visit our website, or contact us.

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