Data conversion is perhaps the most crucial stage of a Business Central implementation.
It’s the crux of Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) projects. The complexity is frequently underestimated: it’s never just a simple matter of copying and pasting information. We are shifting data to different environments, and when doing so we must tweak and tailor our old data to fit the new system.
This data is essential for day-to-day operations, including master records of customers, vendors and items. Without access to this information a business would crumble.
Business Central is only as useful as the data you feed it. If time and care isn’t taken when migrating this data, problems arise in the future. The key is careful planning and knowing your business data inside out.
No one understands this better than the Twinings & Co. project team. In a previous blog article we discussed their ability to manage system change through early planning and building a strong team. This skill has undoubtedly carried through into their data migration.
The Twinings conversion
Data conversion has been a major part of the Twinings Business Central implementation. Ultimately, they had to move data from a number of disparate and outdated sources to Business Central: their one single source truth. For this reason, they had to ensure there was no underestimating the work involved.
In the coming months they needed to identify all the different sources of data, consolidate it, re-structure it where required, and pull together additional data where needed. Such a momentous job required meticulous planning.
Early conversion planning
Will Business Central be the sole source of truth? If not, the integration between Business Central and other systems has to be coordinated some other way.
When you decide to use Business Central as your single source, the Twinings team recommends 6 to 9 months of planning for a project of their size. They spent 6 months planning before kicking off the project in February 2019, and then 4 months during the implementation stage for data preparation.
Two key documents supported the planning:
Developed in July 2018, the plan identified the resources required and cost involved. This involved external technical resources supported by functional leads to manage the conversion.
Detailed data conversion and migration plan
Technical Lead Peter Trudgen created the Twinings plan in the early stages of implementation. It detailed week-to-week tasks, delivery timelines and accountabilities.
This ensured that conversion work wouldn’t compete with usual business requirements. Thus, internal operations could resume without interruption, and the conversion still received the attention it commanded.
Diverse conversion team
The project requires a conversion team with precise attention to detail and advanced Excel skills. Twinings sourced a mix of internal and external resources with commercial and technical expertise.
Resource who care
External resource were employed and dedicated to the project, including Technical Lead Peter, who managed the data conversion process with Fenwick. Peter was supported by other interface, functional and business leads for data preparation.
Peter possessed two vital characteristics: he cared about the data and had an exceptional eye for detail. These two traits are of enormous benefit for a job of such magnitude. You don’t want just anyone dealing with your sensitive data!
The perfect team mix
The game changer is having technical and commercial resource who can work together.
A large amount of the data cleansing was accomplished prior to Peter joining the team. It started with a strong plan that detailed adequate resources. Dedicated functional leads and SMEs provided essential business knowledge. A strong plan with adequate resources was drafted.
Peter then worked closely with the functional leads and SMEs to manage the schedule for data migration. The whole team was committed to specific goals, careful data consolidation and preparing for problems along the way.
It sounds so easy, but how did the Twinings team work through and implement such a complex process? Find out in the next instalment– stay tuned!