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Data Migration Checklist For Business

Here’s why a data migration checklist is important to follow. A project to move business application data between databases seems like ONLY a technical issue, but when examined, it becomes obvious that it also has business considerations. For example, the decision on how many years of historical data needs to be moved, is a definite business decision, not an IT decision.

The primary reasons why a project to move data is started are:

MBFoster has participated in 300+ database moves in since 2003. We have a proven method that organizes an enterprise for business data migration. Migration must be disciplined and must enforce the roles that business users play in governance and validation. 

Legacy Migrations

An enterprise may be moving off a legacy system to a new database and operating system. The application must be brought over to the new environment, while preserving the unique business logic from a custom application.

Some of the considerations will be technical, but the business users need to be involved in the planning and execution, especially the verification of the data and the application in the new environment. 

New Business Applications

When a new application is deployed, often it is not feasible to rekey all the data from the previous environment, so rescuing the data is needed. We help customers plan a data move from the source to the target.

There may be new fields in the application that have no equivalent in the source. The user community needs to be involved in deciding how the business will use the new fields. Can the value be derived from other fields? Do they have to be calculated? Are you adding GIS locations on records as you move towards a digital era? There are sometimes fields that are in the source, but not in the target.

There may be reports or spreadsheets that drive decisions based on those fields. The user(s) need to understand the fields that are being dropped or changed, so that the new reports or spreadsheets are adjusted for the differences. 

Changing Databases

Some of the projects involve moving data between different databases, while keeping the application the same. Users’ roles include confirmation of how much of the history is required and to be involved in the testing and validation.

User Acceptance Testing (UAT) verifies the data is moved properly and completely. The specific plan to confirm the completeness and accuracy of the data migration should be done during the early stages, so that the business agrees on the decisions regarding data validation and can plan the users’ time for testing the results after the data migration. This communication is invaluable in improving user’s trust of the results from the data migration. 


Even decommissioning requires user input – we help customers with preserving data in a format to support inquiries against historical data. Stakeholders from the organization who must account for the legal, financial and informational aspects of the data in question, must be integral participants in the process.

Often the data must be in a form that can be queried without the benefit of the original application where a report or a screen would place the data in context. A raw dump of the underlying data does not provide enough context to meet compliance, or audit standards. Business users must specify how the data is to be delivered, so inquiries both internal and external can be satisfied at the level of data required. 

Get More Value From Your Data 

Many customers include in their data migration projects a plan to use their data to better understand the business operations and derive new knowledge. The result is the MBFoster team are involved in getting the data prepared for analytics – looking at what KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) the business would like to track, where the data can come from to feed a dashboard measuring the KPIs and how it can be curated into the right form to assist in timely decisions.

By understanding the business needs we can help the customer get the data in an accurate and timely manner. We have helped build real time dashboards with synchronization between disparate database types to enhance the business value of the data that the business is paying to capture. 

Critical to the success of migration projects is getting the data correct which requires a team effort – users working with IT to assess, plan and execute on the migration of the data. When IT works closely with the business users, the conversations around the planning and testing will reduce surprises. 

Data Migration Checklist to Follow

Here is a checklist for the business to help with planning the framework and governance required. 

  1. Assign a project manager.
  2. Inventory the stakeholders.
  3. Verify the historic data requirements with each stakeholder category (Finance, Legal, etc.)
  4. Assign a user to oversee governance to ensure the migration is defined from a business viewpoint.
  5. Identify the Data Stewards persons who are extremely knowledgeable about data related to a workflow. They ensure the data is correct for that workflow and help define the rules for data – they will also be involved in deciding if the migration is correct and complete.
  6. Schedule ample time to allow users to be involved in the planning of data in the new environment. Data definitions may change between the old and new systems and there may be new classifications.
  7. Work with IT to plan a schedule for the project.
  8. Allow time to review the data in the new system – look at screens and reports to identify any anomalies. Check periodic reports (daily, weekly, monthly, annually).
  9. Work with IT to validate data. This may include help on MDM (Master Data Management).
  10. Practice the “go-live” several times to ensure that:
    1. The time window for the migration is understood
    2. The data validation process (usually reports) works
    3. All team members, IT and users, know what they will do during the migration “go-live”

Data migration is about moving the business value asset (data) safely without loss or data degradation. The business users need to be involved from the beginning of the project to help make it a success! 

If you have questions or suggestions please reach out and have a conversation – you can write me at Birket@MBFoster.com or call me at 1-800-ANSWERS (that’s 800-267-9377) I’m at extension 204. Our website is www.MBFoster.com 

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