4 M&A Data Migration Best Practices You Need to Know

M&A Data Migration Best Practices

This is part of Solutions Review’s Premium Content Series, a collection of contributed columns written by industry experts in maturing software categories. In this submission, Appfire AVP of Product Management Paul Lechner offers some key M&A data migration best practices to consider.

SR Premium ContentThe tech industry experienced some of the most significant mergers and acquisitions in recent history this year — including Amazon’s $1.7 billion acquisition of iRobot in August.

Despite economic uncertainties, growth remains at the top of many tech companies’ agendas. This has drawn attention to M&As, which organizations execute to achieve greater market share, reduce operational costs, or even build out new offerings. However, M&As require organizations with different processes, business rules, and applications to come together — often creating new challenges.

One challenge, in particular, is data migration, since organizations have unique methods of measuring, using, and storing their data. Unsuccessful data migration can lead to headaches for employees and operational and financial setbacks for businesses. M&As don’t appear to be slowing down anytime soon, so it’s critical that organizations approach data migration carefully and proactively.

Costs of Unsuccessful Data Migration

On the technical side, a successful merger or acquisition is no small feat. In addition to unifying business processes and applications, IT teams must integrate massive volumes of mission-critical data from each company into a single repository.

The data migration process is complex: CIOs and their teams must find ways to merge incompatible data formats and resolve disparities between the organizations’ data governance frameworks. They have to create plans to address low-quality and incomplete data and transition sophisticated data structures onto new systems.

Even though data migration is a significant undertaking, CIOs and IT teams often execute the initiative without adequate planning and testing. Some of the most prevalent data migration mistakes include:

  • Lack of expertise
  • Poor scoping and budgeting
  • Human error
  • Failure to clean data
  • Data integrity issues

When organizations succumb to the common pitfalls of data migration, issues like prolonged downtime and inaccessible or corrupt data wreak havoc on business operations. For instance, if employees can’t access the information they need to complete their jobs, they grow frustrated and are more likely to leave the company. A lack of relevant data can also lead to flawed decision-making and lost revenue.

Navigate M&A Data Migration Like a Pro

Mergers and acquisitions will most likely play a critical role in corporate strategies throughout the rest of 2022. But without a plan and increased visibility into the scope of your data migration, you risk creating inefficiencies that hinder your ability to achieve key goals.

Here are three M&A data migration best practices to consider:

Dedicate Adequate Time to Planning

Organizations often fail to create a realistic project scope for data migration during the planning phase of an M&A, resulting in cost overruns and scope creep. In reality, the critical planning phase lays the groundwork for your entire data migration.

Stakeholders across business functions in both organizations should participate in this stage to ensure diverse perspectives and needs are met during the migration. Initiate conversations upfront about your data structures, sources, and governance standards to work out any kinks before migration.

Discussions in the planning phase should also provide visibility into changes to data structures, the migration timeline, and the roles and responsibilities of each stakeholder group. Overcommunication is key — it’s much easier to solve problems upfront than to put out fires later.

Lean on Third-Party Tools and Expertise

You shouldn’t navigate an M&A on your own — and you don’t have to. While most organizations lack a specific team or department that specializes in integration, solution providers and consultants can offer personalized help throughout the data migration process.

You should also equip your team with digital tools and solutions that facilitate a seamless migration. As you research various solutions, look for options that support automation, increase visibility, and offer in-depth analytics capabilities to improve decision-making. Imagine you are tasked with adding 500 users to a new system from the company you merge with. Completing this task manually is time-consuming and error-prone — a perfect place to incorporate automation.

Don’t Rush Testing

Data migration testing ensures a positive user experience for employees post-migration. Tests should include data-level validation to rule out any discrepancies between legacy and new databases, as well as application-level validation testing to ensure application functionality. Additionally, test data and applications both before and after migration in different environments to ensure you’re only pulling the data you need and that it translates to the new database.

A data migration shouldn’t hamstring your merger or acquisition, especially when you’re equipped with the right expertise and tools. From demand planning to customer service, data is foundational to the success of your organization. So give your data migration the time and resources it deserves — to retain employees and grow your business.

Paul Lechner
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