What constitutes a data migration success?
This sounds like an easy question to answer at first glance. A successful data migration is one where all the data was migrated. Easy, right?
Well of course we know that there is a heck of a lot more to it than this, but in actual fact many projects literally have no criteria for success other than “our data was moved from point A to point B.” They get into all kinds of trouble as a result.
I recounted a story some time ago on this blog of a healthcare organisation that paid off its contractors because they had migrated the data. Six months later the organisation subsequently found major data quality defects that posed a massive remediation challenge.
So we know that data quality is a criteria for success. But what exactly does that mean? Who defines the rules for data quality? How will they be tested for success? Who does the testing - supplier or internal staff? Do you have the skills to execute? What stages should you be testing for data quality?
Next, we have to think beyond the physical act of migration and consider the real end-goal: a fully operational target platform.
Our data has to meet the specifications of the target system interfaces, application logic and user requirements. So we need more rules and specifications to define the “right data.” Not always easy when we’re literally dealing with a moving target. You can seldom wait for application logic and data models to be firmed up; you have to crack on and start development.
Next, timing is everything. If we migrate all our data correctly but it takes 12 months longer than expected, is it really a success? Technically the data was migrated - but operationally it’s clearly a failure. So we need to factor in time to our success criteria.
So, can you see how complex this suddenly gets - but more importantly, how critical it is? The next time you’re putting together a data migration project plan, make sure you give more than a fleeting moment to the topic of data migration success criteria. Consider some of the factors above and seek expert opinion, because if you ignore your criteria for success then your project could quickly become another negative statistic.