In a highly data intensive environment where virtually every business decision is guided by data and every observation can be measured and analyzed, an effective enterprise resource management (ERP) solution is no longer an option; it’s a necessity for remaining competitive. Whether it’s on-premise or a cloud solution, ERP software gives organizations the ability to manage all of their essential business processes by coordinating the flow, collection and intersection of data across the company. The alignment of processes and streamlining of data helps to improve data quality, consistency and accountability so leaders and managers can make sound decisions in virtually any production capacity, from the supply chain to human resource activities to manufacturing or customer relationship management. Data lies at the heart of any organization’s ERP system.
But depending on the nature of your business as well as your growth goals, the ERP system you’re now using may no longer be meeting your needs, especially since the older versions of these solutions aren’t always scalable and your organization may now be a lot bigger than it used to be. No matter how long you’ve used that ERP system, how often you’ve upgraded it or the current direction of your industry, the historical data you’ve collected is probably still important to the needs of your organization in terms of how it guides your choices and informs your judgment with respect to your staff or your customers.
During an ERP system migration, however, maintaining and relocating historical data doesn’t have to be a problem, so long as you choose the right implementation team to lead the effort. If you’re unfamiliar with data migration or cloud migrations processes, this will help you understand what it’s all about and what to be aware of so you can properly prepare for an effective migration.
What is ERP migration?
ERP migration is pretty much just like it sounds; it’s the process of transferring ERP and other business data from one system to another, typically today to an ERP cloud solution. It doesn’t always have to be from just an ERP system, however. Frequently, data comes from multiple legacy systems and in a variety of different formats. What the migration process does is pull data from all those sources so it is maintained in a centralized location like an ERP system or data warehouse, or a combination of both. With a data warehouse, all of your key data, whether in-house or cloud-based, can be stored and available for reporting, analysis, and management dashboards. When multiple systems are involved that all have different data structures, a data warehouse and reporting tool such as Solver can make it easier to report on your current and historical data.
When should ERP system migration occur?
Many mid-size businesses go through a new system implementation and data migration because their legacy system either isn’t scalable or is creating more work than it is eliminating. In other words, they do it to increase efficiency, as leaving their existing solution in place could wind up harming the business by creating confusion or unnecessary errors.
Other times, a new ERP system implementation and data migration is forced upon an organization. These scenarios may include a software provider deciding to no longer provide support for the legacy system, a software provider going out of business or not having the resources to keep up with current technology trends, new business standards, or newly initiated regulations within an industry that change or update how an organization’s data must be stored and shared.
How are ERP migration and ERP implementations interrelated?
Not only is data migration important to organizations’ ability to read, analyze, interpret and gather data, it’s also a key component to successful ERP implementation. ERP implementation is the installing and configuring of a new ERP system or solution, such as Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central. During an ERP implementation, the system aligns and combines all of the departments across the business – from manufacturing and accounting to inventory and customer support – so they’re all sharing the same data and drawing from the same database.
ERP data migration is a core component to a successful ERP implementation since the new solution will need to be set up utilizing the old system’s data and placing it within its new system and/or a data warehouse. The migration needs to be complete and comprehensive to ensure that all the master data needed is collected and migrated to the new system. The process itself must also be done carefully so data is accurate and non-duplicative. A thoughtful, experienced ERP consulting company will ensure that the migration process is organized and thorough, which will help to eliminate data that is either unnecessary, redundant, or unreliable.
One of the most important decisions organizations need to make related to a new ERP system implementation and data migration is how they want to handle historical data. Master files like customers, vendors, items, bill of materials, and general ledger history are pretty easy to migrate, even when you make changes to the chart of accounts, customer or vendor IDs, or item numbers. However, historical ERP data is often hard and expensive to migrate because no two ERP systems structure and organize their data in the same way making a migration very costly.
Consequently, most organizations either keep their old system for referencing historical data or organizations will migrate the data to a data warehouse where it can be centrally stored and available for reporting and management analysis. A data warehouse, like Solver, can be especially helpful when an organization utilizes multiple systems like an accounting application, payroll solution and a point of sale system that all have different data structures.
But even when ERP migration is done tactfully and thoughtfully, challenges can arise. Being aware of the potential complications that are common can help you align your expectations or take steps now that will help you avoid missteps later on.
What are some common data migration complications?
The whole point of an implementation is to share information across the organization. But it’s highly probable that multiple departments may have the same information; it’s just stored in separate systems or is a different structure. This can lead to data redundancy, which can compromise the integrity of data and lead to process inefficiencies for a variety of important tasks, like accounting, reporting, invoicing and more.
As previously mentioned, health care, finance, law, investing and many other industries have a variety of rules and regulations relating to how data is used, managed and stored. Many of these mandates and ordinances come straight from the federal government and have the authority to issue fines or penalties for non-compliance. Because of this fact, it’s important to be cognizant of any data transferral rules or limitations that are relevant to your business and to communicate those with your ERP vendor. However, your ERP vendor should be aware of what these regulations are as well and respond appropriately.
Resistance to change
Whether it comes from C-suite executives or the people who use your current ERP every day, data migration is a key component of an ERP implementation. Using an entirely new solution with its own operating system and interface may be met with resistance. If this is the case, many ERP vendors can also help with change management, which can help produce stakeholder buy-in among users and also assist with the onboarding process.
Relocating data from several legacy systems can make data migration an expensive proposition with certain ERP services providers. There are several facets to this process aside from the implementation itself, the entity implementing the new software can often perform much of the data migration as well. This includes extracting the data, cleaning it, and restructuring it under the guidance of the ERP implementation partner who usually then loads it into the new software platform.
In short, be mindful that the cost of data migration is usually not included with an ERP implementation. It’s often charged separately. So you should discuss this with any potential ERP providers and make sure you understand the cost and effort involved.
Why you should migrate to Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central
There are a lot of options out there for a replacement ERP solution, but if you’ve had any familiarity with Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central – or know of a business that uses it – the choice is clear: Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central. Deployed in the cloud, Business Central has helped thousands of household names companies become more productive and efficient. Microsoft Dynamics 365 is industry agnostic and every business in every specialty can work better, smarter and more productively with solutions like Microsoft Dynamics 365 CRM and Business Central.
Here are a few of the reasons why organizations performs better and makes better decisions when they’ve migrated to a Microsoft Dynamics application:
Seamless interface and deployment
Whether you use Microsoft Excel, Microsoft Outlook or Microsoft Explorer, Microsoft Dynamics has a similar interface, so the learning curve is reduced. The deployment process – meaning implementation and data migration – is turnkey as well, as any vendor that sells and implements a Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central solution must be a certified Microsoft partner. Additionally, it integrates with other Microsoft applications like Microsoft Power BI or the Microsoft Power Apps Platform.
It’s impossible to say how much an implementation and data migration runs price-wise given every organization and process is different, but a Microsoft Dynamics 365 partner such as The TM Group (TMG) can provide an estimate after doing some discovery with your organization. Subscription costs, however, are standardized and available to see on Microsoft’s website. The Premium option for Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central costs $100 per user per month, while the Essentials package is $70 per user per month. The Microsoft website has a breakdown of the cost and what applications are included within each package, and TMG has prepared an eBook to help you understand the cost of licensing the Microsoft Dynamics 365 CRM and Business Central applications. (Link)
Comprehensive business management
An effective ERP implementation and data migration connects all your functions and sections of your enterprise. From service and finance to sales and marketing, Microsoft Dynamics 365 CRM and Business Central align and intertwine them all so all your stakeholders are operating on one centralized solution.
Data migration as a key component of a new ERP implementation is a process you can’t leave to chance or hope that the vendor you get knows what they’re doing. TMG not only has data migration, implementation and cloud migration experience, we’ve been doing it much longer than most of our competitors, having launched in 1984. In addition, we have extensive experience in app development and are multiple Microsoft and CRM/ERP related industry award winners.
For more information on any of our services, contact us today.