Could Your Business Benefit from a Migration Factory Approach?

More enterprises today are looking to take on data migration initiatives due to the ongoing trend of large-scale digital transformation, the constant push to shift to the cloud, and mergers, acquisitions and divestitures.

However, many are still battling a mishmash of siloed information, old systems, on-premises and hybrid cloud deployments, and dark data as they approach these migration projects.

The concept of a process or template that’s repeatable can be quite alluring for a large business with enormous volumes of data and systems that need to be consolidated or transferred to new applications. The same is true for businesses dealing with a number of merger, acquisition or divestiture (MA&D) activities. The idea of migration factories springs from these common difficulties. It’s essentially a way of developing a standard migration pattern that an enterprise can use to harmonise and consolidate its data assets in order to fulfil the needs of its operating model and business process requirements.

How can you tell if this strategy is the best one for your business? Here are points to think about.

Definitions of “migration factory”

Imagine that you want to move data from a number of conventional, well-known sources. Every time you migrate, you don’t want to have to start from scratch, because that would be too costly and wouldn’t be able to capitalise on lessons learnt from your previous migrations.

For each migration to follow a common pattern with the least amount of customisation possible, a migration factory focuses on developing repeatable templates and rules. Using this process, you can create a team that works well together, has a common approach and makes use of the same software tools. This team is better equipped to offer results whether faced with straightforward or difficult migrations, as well as assignments with short deadlines.

The capacity to involve employees with both business and technical knowledge throughout the process is another crucial component of a migration factory. Data ownership can’t be solely the responsibility of the technical team, but frequently the tools at hand only cater to the requirements of people with technical expertise. A migration factory needs a mix of technical, business process and business unit owners for its data ownership and team structures.

A second example of a migration factory is when a service provider—usually a specialised services firm or system integrator—wants to create an outsourced service for quick conversion of particular source and target systems. As an illustration, a company might need to switch from a historically on-premises enterprise resource planning (ERP) system to the vendor’s most recent cloud-based ERP solution. Both the customer and the ERP software provider profit from the quicker and more cost-effective conversion of customers to their most recent software solutions. Overall, from a time and cost viewpoint, the result is more predictable.

Would you benefit from a migration factory approach?

Migration “factories” are so named because they handle repetitive, rote forms of migrations –circumstances in which there is a common destination system or source/target systems. Therefore, a migration factory may still be a viable option if there is little overlap across migration events from a source/target standpoint, but the level of automation you can achieve will be restricted to common tools and methodology. When you have a defined template for the systems involved and the data models necessary to support business process execution, then you’ve achieved the fullest possible degree of automation.

So, how can you choose the best approach? Begin by examining particular processes, including MA&D. Establishing a migration factory could be highly beneficial if your firm is likely to undergo many acquisitions. If you are dealing with large-scale system consolidation, a migration factory may be a terrific option for cutting the length of what will undoubtedly be a multi-year deployment. Work with your global system integrator to establish operational structures, roles and responsibilities as part of the migration factory journey if you intend to outsource or deliver this in conjunction with them.

The uniformity of the tools and methods—having pre-built material or templates, project plans, rules or mappings—is the foundation of this strategy. The more uniformity there is, even when working with different systems, the more you can automate through a migration factory.

Migration factory best practices

You won’t be able to attain a high level of repeatability or automation if there isn’t a consistent methodology from the start. This is true even if you use a common set of tools or even a common set of templates. The tools you employ are a second crucial element. There is a chance that the methodology won’t be followed if it isn’t incorporated into how the tool is made and you depend on the individual to adopt it – since the tools don’t force you to do so. And you’ll need professionals who can carry out this work.

To get the process to the point where it’s running smoothly, you’ll also need to practice continuous improvement. All later migrations you perform using the migration factory method should get better, because this is an agile process. You should concentrate on enhancing the process, standards and content you use to achieve the result. Therefore, as you perform additional migrations, your process will improve, and you’ll be honing it until it does run smoothly.

Those with a stake in the business also must participate in the change management process. The business must be a key participant in authorising changes to the migration factory if there are changes to core business processes or if a change in business goals is driving new requirements. Knowing how data directly affects the business ensures that the “factory” can adjust quickly.

Improving the migration process

Having a fully developed, templated process in place can save a significant amount of time and resources if you plan to carry out several migrations with comparable workflows. The advantage of a migration factory is that it consists of teams, tools and processes that cooperate to systematically streamline migrations. A migration factory methodology is something to think about if you’re currently engaging in or anticipate several, comparable migrations in your enterprise’s future. Use the best practices mentioned above to develop a strategy that will save your business time and money while easing the burden on the IT team.

About the author

Rex Ahlstrom is the CTO and EVP of Growth & Innovation at Syniti, a leader in enterprise data management. Rex has over 30 years of technology industry leadership experience and specialises in enterprise software within the data integration and information management space. He is also a member of the Forbes Technology Council.

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