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How to plan for a successful HRIS data migration

9th Mar 2020
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The words ‘data’ and ‘migration’ are enough to send any HR manager into a tailspin. Issues with historical data, time restrictions, lack of vendor support and the sheer size of some data banks are just some of the challenges that need to be overcome.

So, how do you plan for a successful HRIS data migration that will overcome these challenges and send you on your way to creating a single source of truth for your organisation?

Preparing for your data migration project

The answer isn’t simple. But the complexity of HRIS data migration can be mitigated with the proper plans and processes in place.

Whilst every data migration project is different, there are some fundamental (and non-negotiable!) steps that must be followed to ensure both accuracy and compliance.

If you miss a step, you could quickly find yourself losing control of your HRIS project, both in terms of cost and timescales….

Our six-step methodology for HRIS data migration

After a decade’s worth of experience in supporting clients through the full HRIS project lifecycle, we’ve established a six-step methodology for data migration; one that works for any sized client and with any HRIS software.

Whilst there’s much more to each step than we can cover in this article, the explanation below will help to set you on the right path:

Step 1. Assign responsibilities for your data migration project

Assuming you are the project manager for the HRIS implementation, the first step is to identify, who in your HRIS project delivery team, is best placed to handle the data migration. It could be you, or perhaps somebody who has been recruited specifically for their technical data skills.

Step 2. Identify data sources and any interdependencies

Once you’re comfortable that you have the right tools and skills internally, you’ll need to identify all the relevant data sources.
You’ll have to be extremely mindful of any interdependent sources though; if you pull through data linked to Payroll, for example, without realising it, it can be difficult to reverse the extraction.

Step 3. Cleanse the existing HR data and identify elements to be migrated

You’ll want to work closely with your chosen HRIS vendor and HRIS project manager (if you have one) to extract data from legacy applications with the appropriate HR data cleansing tools.

If working with Silver Cloud HR, we include a data transformation workshop within the scope of the implementation project, during which we, with support from the client and HRIS vendor, map out the full data transformation process.

A data migration strategy and process summary are then created so that everyone within the project team is aware of what’s required.

Step 4. Assess the data that will be migrated

Once a process has been agreed, a test amount of legacy data can be transformed into the new format; with new fields created and mapped with the support of the HRIS vendor.

All applicable data fields should be reviewed for quality issues and decisions made about how much of the data to convert or retain.

Step 5. Test, extract and transform the data

Once you’ve established the data you wish to extract and how you’re going to transform it, you’ll want to test a subset of data that is critical to the operation of the HRIS. This could be, for example, employee job codes and other master HR data.

Use a tracker to monitor the progress of the tests against the data requirements and don’t be afraid to retest as many times as you need to. You’ll also want to be clear on what the criteria is for signing-off each test.

Assuming owners of the process have been sufficiently trained in the application, critical business processes should also be tested using a User Acceptance Testing (UAT) process.

Once you’re satisfied with the outcomes of both tests, you’ll want to parallel test all data migrated into the system.

Step 6. Communicate the plan with different user groups

If everything went to plan, and there’s no reason it shouldn’t if you took a cautious and considered approach, the final step is to communicate with and train end-users.

There’s a whole raft of ways you could do this, but at the very least you should introduce demo sessions during and after implementation. We find that ‘Watch-Try-Do’ gatherings are quite an effective format.

Try to plan this step as early in the process as you can though. By go-live, project-fatigue can easily creep in!

These steps are just a taster of what you could learn in a Silver Cloud HR Project Readiness workshop


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