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How To Plan A Successful Data Migration

Massa Inc Image - Planning ProcessPlanning is the most important part of any data migration. By carefully planning a strategic data migration long before your ideal completion date, you’ll enjoy a successful transition to a new system that boosts efficiency, productivity, and your bottom line.

Here’s how to plan a bulletproof data migration to help you reach and exceed your business goals.

Identify and involve key stakeholders

Pop quiz – who should be involved in planning your data migration? I’ll give you a hint: it’s not just the people who’ll be paying for it!

Data migration is a process that reaches beyond leadership and IT to absolutely everyone who uses your data in any capacity. The features and benefits of each solution should be looked at by the folks who’ll actually be using those solutions day-to-day. That often means marketing folks, customer service reps, merchandise teams, volunteers, fundraisers – anyone who regularly uses data to do their job.

Leadership needs to understand the costs, value, and potential for ROI, while the sales team needs to understand how easy it will be to access their leads. It takes a village to plan a data migration, so don’t forget to involve all of your villagers!

Establish clear goals

As you gather the troops and start asking questions, focus on establishing clear goals for the data migration process.

A few key questions are:

  • Why are we moving?
  • What do we want to accomplish?
  • Can the fields we want to save be collected?

Ask everyone for their ultimate wish list when it comes to the new tools and system you’ll be using. Don’t be afraid to put every option on the table and allow each idea to be become a possibility. Look for trends in the challenges faced by different departments, and listen to key stakeholders and team members.

From there, determine what’s most important, identify goals based on those ‘wish lists,’ and choose the solutions that will help you meet those goals.

Create a map

Your current database may look and function very differently from your new system. Data may need to live in different places, be merged with different fields, or get deleted altogether.

Create a map that accounts for all of your different data fields, as well as the new fields that exist in the new system. Decide where everything will live, what will be combined, and what will get deleted.

It may be helpful to have someone on the design team create a visually compelling map to help everyone envision the process. Not only will this help you decide what should go where; it will help you foresee problems before the actual migration begins.

Put together a plan

By this point, you know why you’re migrating, what you hope to accomplish through the process, and where all of your data will live in the new system. Now it’s time to put everything you’ve learned into a strategic, step-by-step action plan.

  • Break down the migration into manageable steps
  • Assign each step to the appropriate team
  • Establish a realistic timeline
  • Create a way to measure the success of each completed action step

Migrate your data

Once you’ve created your strategic plan, let the data migration begin! It takes a lot of work to get to this point, but it will all be worth it – I promise!

At the end of a successful data migration, you’ll have squeaky-clean data that’s accurate, organized, and accessible by everyone who needs it. That data will be converted to a format that’s easy to work with and easy to export to other programs and vendors. Even better, it will be faster, simpler, and more cost-effective to use data to drive business decisions every day.

Food for Thought: Granny’s Lemon Ice Box Pie

I do not know if this is a ‘Southern thing’ or not, but my great grandmother’s lemon ice box pie was delicious and a staple when we visited her across town. I think of it as a summer dessert because it’s kept in the fridge, but I’ve found it a refreshing end to a meal any time of year.

I’m pretty sure Granny didn’t create this recipe, but I associate it with fond memories of her anyway. She was a diabetic, so I don’t think I ever saw her eat a piece herself – she just smiled a lot watching us kids eat it!

Go figure that Granny’s Lemon Ice Box Pie reminds me a lot of data migration. Just as the pie is created using a methodical, step-by-step process that leads to amazing (delectable!) results, data migration should be approached in much the same way: step-by-step, following a carefully laid out plan with strategically selected ingredients….


1 can Eagle Brand milk
½ C of lemon juice (preferably fresh)
½ pint whipping cream
2 T Confectioners sugar
36-40 vanilla wafers ground fine (1 1/2 to 2 C of crumbs)
6 T of melted butter

Make the crust first. Mix the vanilla wafer crumbs (not graham crackers – trust me!) and the butter together, then line the bottom and sides of a 9” pie plate that has been buttered. Press the crumbs firmly into the pie plate to form the crust, then chill the crust.

Mix the milk and lemon juice together by hand until well blended. Pour onto the chilled crust and chill further.

Make the whipped topping. In advance, chill the beaters and the bowl you intend to use to make the whipped cream. Pour the cream and sugar into that bowl and whip until the cream mounds firmly (but not until its stiff and dry). Pour this mixture over the filling.

After the finished pie had been chilling a while, Granny would take left over vanilla wafers from the box and stand them up around the outside of the pie for a bit of decoration. I like to sprinkle some wafer crumbs over the whipped cream just before serving too. It will make your brains fall out! Thanks Granny!

At Massa & Company, we do the heavy lifting so you can get back to running your business. Find out how we can streamline the data migration process for you.

Bonnie Massa is Founder and President of Chicago-based Massa & Company, Inc. She works with companies and nonprofits to make the best use of their information about customers, partners, donors and sponsors. With more than 40 years of experience in marketing and predictive analytics, Bonnie is passionate about helping clients make informed, data-driven decisions to increase the value of their customer base. She strongly believes that making pasta and ice cream from scratch are worth the effort, and she spends much of her free time testing and re-testing that theory.

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