Best practices when moving your operations data to a new home

One of the most important and, very often, labour intensive tasks when moving operational systems is your data migration.  This is usually due to the sheer volume of data being moved between systems and also the cleanup of the data prior to importing it.  Most business do not realise the amount of data they already have and where to find it so if you know where all of your data is kept and can access it easily then that is a great head start on the process.

ServiceTracker has managed many successful data migrations over the years with varying obstacles and difficulties overcome with each migration.  No two migrations are ever the same and if the process is not structured properly then there can be things that come back to bite you later on down the line.

Here are a few helpful tips to get you started on your data migration journey…

1. Identify the data you want to migrate

Choose which information you wish to migrate and identify the sources of this information. Information could be held in various systems, filing cabinets, email, various computers throughout the office or, as we have experienced, even in the boot of your car!  The first step in migrating your data is to take stock and decide which information you are going to use and the information you are going to archive if you should ever need to access it in the future

For example, current customer’s Contact information, Contractual information, scheduling, last known visit information, documents etc should all make it on to the moving list however customer’s that have not traded with you in perhaps 10 years may want to be archived?

However you undertake this task, at the end of it you should have a clear understanding of your data and the volume you will be transferring over to your new system.

2. Scrub the data

One of the most common mistakes when importing data into a new system is to simply dump it all in and try to clean it up later.  This does not go down well with users of the system and often the cleanup never takes place.  Moving to a new system means a fresh start and involves some form of cleanup operation to ensure there are no duplications, addresses of your customers are correct, telephone numbers are entered etc.  You have the ability to see where key information has been missed and go back over it to import clean and concise data..

3. Decide what is important to you

At this point you have identified missing information and it is time to rectify mistakes.  You can see any information that has not been entered correctly into your previous system and decide early on what is very important to you. For example, you may be looking at a long list of customers with no email address.  You can decided that in future no records can be created without an email address.  Write these requirements down ready for the migration and also for the first step in customising your system

4. Choose a method for importing your data

This task is generally managed by a consultant or your IT department however it is worth noting the available tools on the market for data import as it will help you understand the process, how long it should take and the costs incurred.  Some systems  have built in tools to import data whilst others rely on third party software to manage the data transfer.  There are many ways to move the data back and forth and it is important to note any limitations along the way such as the number of records that can be imported, the length of data etc.  

5. Create templates for your data

Once you have decided on the method of importing your data you will, in many cases, have to create a data import  template.  MS Excel is a good tool to start with as you can export records as CSVs, a widely used format for most data imports. The best way to create a template is to perform a data export from your new system using reporting tools or any data migration tools.  This will provide you with the field names, structure and example data to use when mapping your data into the new system

Identify the required fields for each table (mark these in red on your spreadsheet for easy viewing) and also identify relationships between the data (for example a contact may need to relate to a business before it is imported). These relationships dictate the order of data migration. For example, you should load the Business record first, then the contacts, then the Contractual data.

6. Test your templates

Review the data in your templates to make sure you have captured everything you need before populating the system with a small number of records. For example: Load one record, check the results, then load all records if you are successful.  This will save you time having to re-do the template if any data fails to import.

7. Migrate the data

Ensure that the data mapping is correct and you have the correct tables and fields in the system to match your data set. Your consultant or IT specialist will usually be able to create missing fields in the system to store legacy ID information to help maintain relationships and help you build custom reports for validation later on..

8. Validate the data

Use these techniques to validate your migration:

  • Create reports that validate record counts and provide an overall snapshot of migration.
  • Spot check the data.
  • Review exception reports to see what data was not migrated.​

 

With all of these steps mastered you are on your way to a very successful data migration but remember the most important rule of all; Always keep a backup just in case there are any problems post migration that need to be rectified or you need to refer back to your data in future.

If you would like to know more about how ServiceTracker have completed many successful data migrations or how our products streamline the migration process then please get in touch on 033 022 31022 or email us at info@servicetracker.uk.com

 

People, Process, Technology (PPT) Three Elements for Successful business Transformation

PPT

When engaging with new or prospective clients, ServiceTracker has seen a huge focus on Technology alone when it comes to improving business performance and operations. Often the thought is “throw technology at it and things will get better” however in our experience this approach never works without a balanced focus if not more attention to both People and Process and subsequently “buy in” at all levels.

Ignoring the people aspect of any change initiative means that you do not get buy in to your shiny new system and almost all of the technology benefits are lost. Forgetting about process means the business is no longer aligned to your new technology and very quickly cracks will appear throughout the company and faith is lost.

Studies have shown that a large majority of business technology deployment efforts do not achieve their objectives and are not able to sustain themselves over the long term without following the PPT approach.

.Here is how ServiceTracker deals with this challenge.

People

  • We quickly identify stakeholders, champions, and potential opposition
  • We ensure continued stakeholder management, flexibility, and adaptability to changing needs
  • We adopt a constant improvement approach to ensure all stakeholders have bought into the change and feel a part of the journey

Processes

  • We embed ourselves into your business building up a partnership to identify challenges and solutions.  We are your in-house business system resource.
  • We gain an understanding of your business goals and objectives and make it our priority to be part of your culture
  • We create both short term and long term goals uniquely tailored to you. Whilst most of the journey has already been made and our systems are ready to go it is very important to understand that every customer is different.
  • We align your processes with technology to ensure all aspects of the business are covered and visually available to all stakeholders.
  • We streamline and validate the collection and data at all stages

Technology

  • Our technology strategy engages with your people and processes to support your goals
  • We continuously evaluate and improve our technology to meet new objectives and scale with your business as you grow
  • We clearly define the objectives laid out by the stakeholders
  • We define the benefits of our technology to our customers in quantifiable terms
  • We have countless metrics and systems of measurement at our disposal to monitor success and ROI
  • We assess your current technology environment to determine the best strategy of deployment

If you would like to know more about the ServiceTracker PPT approach or how you could benefit from using ServiceTracker and our many business services please get in touch now.

Call 033 022 31022 or email at info@servicetracker.uk.com

www.servicetracker.uk.com

 

10 reasons to take a serious look at replacing your current operations system

Your back office operations system is the backbone of your business. You need a system that provides the functionality necessary to run your business easily, it must be convenient for the users and deliver a competitive advantage.

The system you have in place today may not be meeting those needs or may not be able to support the growth and innovation that are part of your company’s future success.

Here are 10 reasons to take a serious look at replacing your current operations system with one that is better able to support your company’s needs:

  1. Your return on Investment is no longer proving its worth.  If you have spent a small fortune developing, installing, training and deploying a system that is no longer fit for purpose or still needs improvement you could actually be better off scrapping it altogether.  Your system should be giving you the best ROI and just like the many comparison websites you should be shopping around for a better deal.
  2. The current system lacks functionality, it is hard to use, slow, and/or inflexible. Companies experiencing these kinds of issues should not hesitate to find and install a replacement system
  3. Operating costs are too high. Older system, especially those installed on local servers with the added support costs can get increasingly expensive to operate, especially if the software is no longer supported by the developer, the hardware is antiquated and increasingly unreliable.
  4. Your system no longer supports current business needs like customer portal, electronic reporting, mobile connectivity or readily accessible business intelligence.
  5. Your people rely on spreadsheets and paper to get their jobs done. This is by far the biggest challenge and a definite no no in today’s world. If the function can’t be accomplished within the system you are not getting the benefits you invested in the system is not supporting your business needs.
  6. You need multiple systems to do one job. If you have a system for scheduling, another system for quoting and surveying, a separate system for work order completion, a disconnected invoicing system and are using another system for customer logins then you are not only spending out on too many systems but the chances are the support and usability of these systems is very poor
  7. You lose business to competitors because they are simply easier to do business with or their customer service is better. This may not be entirely the fault of the system but the system may be hampering or limiting your effectiveness in pleasing the customers, answering their questions, or delivering products on time.
  8. Your company is growing or changing faster than the system can support and you need better control of your processes. When new processes and technologies start showing up in your market, do system limitations prevent you from moving forward against the competition? How long does it take your system supplier to add new functionality to your current system?
  9. Decision-makers are frustrated by lack of easy access to the information they need about the business, sales and markets.
  10. You are overrun with back-office staff all doing the same task.  Information sharing is very poor and customer records frequently get misplaced.  You are worried that taking on more clients will mean more office staff or an increased workload.

Now ask yourself “What is stopping me from changing my operational system?”.  You may have an answer already reading this article but here are the top 5 responses that ServiceTracker have experienced when talking to prospective clients and helped overcome when it comes to system change.

  1. We have too much data in too many systems.

Provided you can transfer this data into a spreadsheet, most systems have import tools which migrate your data very quickly and cost effectively and working with big data, moving thousands of records is very straightforward.  

  1. We have invested too much time and money in our current system.

If you can jot down the yearly costs of running your existing systems, estimate any changes required in the coming year and their costs, forecast external costs such as paper, postage, unnecessary travel for your workforce to collect information from the office and compare this to a new system which eliminates most of these costs and can do things quicker, you may be surprised.  ServiceTracker offer comparison and ROI calculators free of charge if you are interested in seeing this for yourself.

  1. Our staff are adversed to change

This is not uncommon in any business and there are challenges with change in an organisation however if the system you are moving to can closely relate to your existing processes and is adaptable to fit around your needs then this is painless for even the most change-averse member of the team.

  1. Security is paramount and I don’t know if I can trust new technology

The right system should built on trust and nothing should be more important than the privacy of your data. ServiceTracker understands that the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of its customers’ information are vital to their business operations and our own success. We use a multi-layered approach to protect that key information, constantly monitoring and improving our application, systems, and processes to meet the growing demands and challenges of security. Any system worth its salt will be very transparent with their security processes and protocols and provide you with detailed documentation to support it.

  1. We do not have the budget for a new system

This may be paramount on your list of reasons not to change and rightly so as it is important.  Software, especially software-as-a-service has become relatively inexpensive in recent times and weighing up the costs of running your current system Vs the cost savings and benefits a new system could bring could give you a different perspective. ERP and full end-to-end systems used to be a concept for only big businesses with big budgets but today these system are available to any business large or small and are a fraction of the cost allowing you to scale at an incredible rate.

A properly selected and implemented operations system should be an enabler, not a preventer of efficient and effective operations and market-leading customer service. You can’t afford to let an inadequate system hamper your business. If your current system is not the solution, it’s the problem.

Contact us now at ServiceTracker for more information: 033 022 31022 info@servicetracker.uk.com