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Data Conversion with Twinings: Consolidation and Commitment to Goals

This post is part of the Twinings Implementation blog series.

The previous blog established data conversion as a crucial and complex part of implementing Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central.

When translating data from one format to another, its quality must be preserved. The success of this technical process depends on the team behind it. The Twinings & Co team worked tirelessly behind the technology, building a strong plan to support the project.

Maintaining the quality of the data took consolidation and commitment to goals – with some challenges along the way.

Consolidation of data sources

During a major conversion, it’s vital to know where all the data resides and how it can be brought together.

Initial data workshops must determine how master data will be extracted, transformed and imported. While this process is time-consuming, it is necessary for identifying gaps and ensuring it meets Business Central requirements.

Manual entry or migration tool?

Some areas of master data can be keyed manually, such as short lists of customers, vendors and item records. However large lists of data require a migration tool to save time and avoid errors.

Fenwick Gold Company Setup Tool

We provide our Fenwick Gold Company Setup Tool as part of our Foundation module. This imports and extracts data, providing smart Excel templates for each area of master data.

Twinings consolidation

All data was consolidated in the scoping phase. This process was supported by an external data analyst, who determined where the data was and how it was used.

For project implementation, the external technical lead Peter provided expertise in ensuring that data would then be correctly captured and migrated. Some areas were manually migrated while others required our Company Setup Tool.

Commitment to conversion goals

Strong early planning established realistic achievable goals. Throughout all stages Twinings were rigorously committed to their goals with ongoing data management. 

Their primary goal was to have a consolidated mapped view of all current data sources by the end of July 2019, in preparation for data loads in August. Next, all master data would be loaded into the test system by the end of September to ensure functional and integration testing could commence in October.

Throughout October, this data testing was continually reviewed in preparation for live data loading. Twinings completed these final data loads by the end of November in preparation for training and for User Acceptance Testing (UAT) to commence in January 2020.  

Alongside this, Twinings committed to review and implement master data management governance. This guarantees the ongoing success of the data management.

Prepare for conversion problems

Despite exhaustive preparation, some setbacks are unforeseeable. Although Twinings delivered the conversion within their targeted timelines, challenges still arose, requiring extra time and straining the budget.

Migrating from an old system

The most challenging aspect was migrating from a very old system. Theirs was 15 years old! A significant proportion of the data was outdated. A large amount of cleansing was needed to meet Business Central requirements.

Complex conversion

The sheer number of data sources and references added enormous complexity and required meticulous attention to detail.

The complexity struggles caused many specification and developmental change requests in the data preparation stage. As a result, populated data templates needed to be revised multiple times, which needed more time and greater resources. The amount of work in collation and validation of the data proved challenging to juggle with the demands of other project tasks.

Double entry for conversion

Once data is fully migrated, it must be successfully maintained in the lead up to Go-Live. Some attempt a full migration close to or during a Go-Live. We recommend avoiding this stressful and risky strategy!

Our preferred method is to maintain the data in two systems – old and new – before cutting over completely to Business Central. Throughout this process, live data is constantly refreshed into a test database. This allows it to be assessed to ensure it is fit for purpose.

Benefits of Double Entry

Running each system in parallel allows the business to confirm the integrity of the data. They can sign-off on the data, confident that it meets their needs. Double entry guarantees the live system will work, reduces risk, and is a great training exercise.

Twinings Begin Double Entry

Having migrated their data, Twinings has started the double entry process. While the team is confident this approach will work, checkpoints for final data validations will further ensure success.

So far, Twinings has triumphed over the complexities of ERP. Their solution comprised solid planning, the efforts of a diverse team, and a commitment to ongoing data management. In short, their efforts have been exceptional and we have thoroughly enjoyed working with them – keep watching this space!