How to Develop and Execute Data Migration Projects


Growing organizations depend heavily on data to make better decisions, ensure streamlined workflows, and of course, stay profitable. However, handling data on outdated systems and platforms can be too cumbersome to bring you the results you need in your day-to-day operations.

That’s why so many companies have decided to migrate their data onto more advanced, agile platforms that will help them access their most recent data securely and in real time. 

As Q4 begins to wrap up and you find yourself needing to prepare ahead of your 2024 goals, innovating your data systems could be one of the best ways to improve the way you manage your business and stay competitive in your niche. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how you can plan and execute your next data migration project without any hassle.

Evaluate your current data stack

Most companies struggle with siloed data: you have data batches in different project management tools and various internal communication systems, scattered and often outdated. Before you can execute on your data migration plan, you need to get a closer look at the current state of your data.

  • Where is your data currently located? Identify those spots (email, PM tools, ERP systems, your cloud storage, even printed documents, etc.).
  • Which data formats are you dealing with? This will help you define the most appropriate target system or platform for the migration.
  • How sensitive is your data? That will also help you determine how you should proceed, who can participate in the data migration process, and more.
  • Is any of your data outdated and irrelevant? Scrap what you no longer need or use and you’ll make your migration all the more efficient. 

Choose your target system or platform

Although some teams still depend on physical documents and records, it’s important to choose the most modernized data architecture that fits your needs. 

Most growth-oriented companies looking to scale opt for cloud data migration as it gives them ample flexibility and scalability for future endeavors. Not to mention that storing data on cloud-based systems helps them ensure their distributed teams can leverage the same data from anywhere.

Moving your data to the cloud also means you’ll reduce data management costs, which is a relevant factor for most modern-day companies when defining their data migration strategy.

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Big bang or trickle?

Next crucial step in setting up your data migration project: should you move all your data in one fell swoop or in batches? The two current methods are known as the big bang method and the trickle method, respectively. Both have their merits and downsides.

The former allows you to move all data at once, but that also means that you need to settle for interrupting your regular business operations, as all the systems involved with your data storage and migration won’t be available.

The latter, on the other hand, can be more complex and involve multiple stages and phases, but it also allows you to move data incrementally and keep your business fully operational.

Choosing one or the other depends solely on the way your business operates. Taking the pros and cons of both into account allows you to minimize revenue loss. Calculate the cost of delays in your project for migrating data, and then determine which system makes more financial sense. 

Define team roles and key stakeholders

Once you’ve determined the target data architecture and the methodology for the data migration process, you also need to assign responsibilities to your team members. This crucial step in data migration ensures that:

  • Only the most qualified people will handle your data and systems.
  • Security protocols are in place to protect the most sensitive data.
  • Everyone knows their role and responsibilities clearly, to prevent project bottlenecks.

Defining key roles and stakeholders will ensure your data migration project goes without too many interruptions and issues, not to mention that it will help your team stay productive and go back to their daily tasks sooner rather than later.

Make sure to backup all data

Even the best migration projects can go wrong. With that in mind, you first need to make sure that you have backed up all the data, especially the most important, business-defining data you have. 

Backing up your data means you’ll prevent data loss in case of any instances of data corruption during migration. That alone will save you countless hours (and who knows how much of your budget) if you ever need to go back and collect the same data again.

Ensure post-migration data integration

If you’re migrating your data to innovate your systems, you should also make sure your migration project focuses on a way to integrate your data continuously moving forward.

This is where modern data integration comes into play, which allows you to get a unified overview of your company’s data. That said, integration can only work properly by incorporating CDC synchronization into your data migration strategy to keep your data accurate, reliable, and up-to-date, allowing you to sync data across various systems after migration.

This approach empowers the data teams and all other key actors in your organization to keep pace with the changing data landscape. All the while, you’ll be minimizing downtime and maximizing data accuracy moving forward.

Test and monitor your new data systems

Finally, once your migration project is finished, you also need to make sure that your new data systems are working as intended, that you have no corrupt or missing data (otherwise you turn to your backup), and that people know how to utilize your new data architecture.

By this point, you’ve already assigned different roles and responsibilities to your team. This is the moment for your system testing experts to verify that the migration has been completed successfully, and to train your teams on how to best utilize your innovative data infrastructure.

Over to you

When it becomes difficult or impossible to manage your data in existing systems, and you need to push for a more innovative data ecosystem—having the right strategy is essential. Not all businesses are created equal, and that means that every team needs to take a unique approach, but these essential steps will help you define and execute your data migration projects no matter the target platform and the scope of your data.

This was a guest blog. Please review our guest blog disclaimer.

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About the Author: Ciara Byrnes

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Ciara Byrnes spends most of her time reporting on digital marketing for an over-stressed audience of marketers and business owners trying to keep up with the fast pace of change. To center herself, she has become a wellness enthusiast, reaching "highs" like morning yoga on the porch of her family's summer lake cabin to "lows" like failing to convince herself that wheatgrass is yummy.