For today’s businesses, working without computers is unimaginable. Whatever the industry, selling physical products or SaaS subscriptions, you’ll likely generate significant amounts of data related to these activities and your customers. This data needs to be accessible and secure; at some point, many businesses may need to migrate their data from one place to another – to a cloud-based location or a new location onsite – for security, ease of access, or additional storage. As you might expect, data migration can be a complicated task. It presents several risks relating to data loss and security, affecting customer experience and your reputation if not addressed. This guide will offer several strategies for risk mitigation and migrating your data with safety and ease.
Understand the Task
Migrating data from one place to another seems like a simple task on paper. There’s a lot to consider, and knowing what to expect from a data migration can clarify this.
For starters, consider the data you’re migrating. If a business has been in operation a while, it’s accumulated a lot of data. The company needs to consider what data is relevant – does it need all its historical information? Or should it focus on recent and existing customers?
More data means more required storage space (and more stuff to sift through.) If you’re not sure what to keep, a good rule of thumb is to cast a wide net.
Another consideration is how long the data migration will take, which can vary, but it may require a significant amount of time to complete. If you’ve ever worked in customer support, you know the value of reducing customer call times. Even if you’re asking, “what is AHT?” you can appreciate the importance of setting a reasonable time scale for the migration process.
That said, don’t be disheartened if your data migration takes longer (or costs more) than you thought. A reported 84% of data migration projects overrun time or budget.
Assess Your Existing Data Storage
For companies who maintain an existing data storage location, you must understand its limitations before you migrate. To start, migrating data from one place to another can affect all other systems, including those used daily.
Different departments might be responsible for migrating various data sets, hence keeping all relevant parties in the loop and ensuring they know what (and when) data needs migrating is vital. There might also be issues of ownership around different data types. Make sure to resolve these before initiating any migration.
Additional questions regarding the project’s scope and data migration can arise if a business has international locations. Since migrating data can disrupt operations, it might be best to migrate data in stages, so customers aren’t negatively affected. Do you have to work with external parties to migrate data properly? Work closely with them during the migration process; a video conferencing setup may simplify this.
Understand Your New Solution
Another important consideration is where your new data will go. Adequate storage is an obvious consideration; can you store all the data you want to? Can your data location expand as your business (and its associated information) does? Even if you choose not to migrate specific data, you’ll continue to accumulate it in the future.
Besides internal security requirements, external essentials (like GDPR) are another concern. Are you satisfied your new data location meets these requirements? If something goes wrong with this storage location, how do you fix it? Do you have an internal or external professional you can consult?
Anticipating problems with your new data location – and establishing solutions to them – is an excellent risk mitigation strategy. It also ensures you don’t have to worry about data migration in the future.
Improve Data Organization
Migration requires your data to be organized, especially if it’s in a CRM (if you have yet to find a good CRM, there are several free CRM systems to choose from). It’s easy for data to get messy over time; if you struggle to find data pieces, now is an excellent time to sort things out.
Establishing a sensible structure for your data will enable you to transfer it more easily. Most data organization solutions are straightforward; use folders, name them correctly, place folders within a hierarchy, and review files to see what’s still needed.
Whatever the structure, apply your data organization consistently across your business. This organization will make any data migration more straightforward and helps you avoid misplacing helpful information.
Backup Your Data
Once you’ve decided where you’re transferring your data, create a backup before migration. Data loss or corruption is a significant concern, especially if you’re dealing with data in vast quantities.
Your data backups should be automatic – maximum return with minimum effort. It should also meet any security and compliance requirements.
The exact nature of your backups might vary; however, importing them into CSV or Excel files is a frequent solution. Make sure you can transfer all the data you need to and that your destination can extract all the data from your backups.
Train Your Staff
Data migration can take a long time and require a lot of attention. You’ll need to update colleagues on migration progress and monitor the migration for any issues via a dedicated migration manager.
This person should have some technical understanding of overseeing the project and identify and resolve issues as they happen. You might hire an external professional to make sure the data migration runs smoothly and stay in touch via nonfixed VoIP for ease of communication.
Use the Right Tool
Your marketing department probably uses marketing automation tools to help them do their jobs more effectively. When it comes to data migration, specialized tools can also be a great help.
Depending on your migration requirements, you’ll need a tool that moves data within a network or to a cloud-based storage location. Whatever your requirements, data migration tools are helpful because they can significantly simplify the data migration process. They can also migrate data from many different places into a single location.
Some migration tools are open-source, which means they are very cheap to operate. However, they might require some technical know-how. When deciding which data migration tool (if any) to employ, consider where you’re moving data to, the costs, and security considerations. You’ll also need to consider data transformation – data might need to shift from one form to another, and cloud-based systems can often facilitate this more easily.
While marketing automation gadgets, process automation, and similar tools can make our jobs easier, they still require oversight. These tools act as an aid to the process.
Conclusion: Risk Mitigation
Data migration is a complex process, but the data-based nature of today’s world means many businesses must consider it at some point. While it can seem like a daunting process, breaking it down into smaller steps can make it a more manageable prospect.
By understanding your personal business needs, adhering to best practices (like data backups), and choosing an appropriate migration tool, data migration can be a practical, risk mitigation choice for your business.
Guest Post Bio: Grace Lau – Director of Growth Content, Dialpad
Grace Lau is the Director of Growth Content at Dialpad, an AI-powered cloud communication and virtual meetings platform for better and easier team collaboration. She has over ten years of experience in content writing and strategy. Currently, she is responsible for leading branded and editorial content strategies, partnering with SEO and Ops teams to build and nurture content. Connect with Grace on LinkedIn.