In any climate, as a responsible organisation, there is no shame in outsourcing to specialists.

I mean data in this instance, and specifically your upcoming complex data migration project.

Let’s roll back a bit first, though.

A friend and data specialist I have worked with for some time now offered a version of the house analogy during a recent conversation:

“I am the person you contact if you need help moving home!”

It is almost that simple, and the analogy has depth.

No one can tell you in infinite detail what you have in your home, why you have it, what it means to you, how you use it, what you value most and what you’ve wanted to get rid of for ages that SOMEONE insists on keeping!

I make no suggestion you outsource all responsibility, accountability or decision-making power to a third party under any circumstances.

Yet in the standard stages of data migration – analyse (collate, categorise, prioritise, clean), extract, transform, load, test, and sign-off – there is plenty of valuable support on offer.

Indeed, Hart Square has specific support built into business case, preparation and implementation services on how best to budget and plan for your data migration. We are simply not the movers!

Back to the analogy…

You may have a very proactive family with the time and expertise to sort, tidy, bin, “charity shop” and label your possessions to be shipped to your new home.

We recognise this is not always the case. Recent projects with our clients have involved crucial scrutiny of internal resource capacity and capabilities to perform data migration tasks.

This is one of the major elements of your change project to get right from the outset.

And to strike further Hart Square balance and objectivity: of course your chosen technology partner may offer these specialist data migration services for the early stages of data migration.

Remember: you have given them the big job of building your new home, fitting it out, receiving your possessions, helping you decorate and fix snags.

You must make sure your chosen partner has the resource capacity and commitment to assist you in these early stages of the process.

Before I lay out simple examples of how a specific data specialist can help you if budgets allow, let me remind us all of three key advantages of outsourcing when done well:

  1. Focus – under scrutiny, a specialist will focus on delivery undistracted by business-as-usual.
  2. Efficiency – under scrutiny, a specialist must be efficient in delivering a contract.
  3. Cost control – under scrutiny, a specialist must control the cost of this delivery.

Some practical guidance then on how and where a data specialist can support you if contracted.

Stage 1 analyse

Someone internal has got access to all existing data for its analysis. A specialist will instruct you on exactly what to export for collation, in what format, saving time and helping you start with structure.

Certain specialists offer source data analysis with recommendations. This may help you confirm suspicions about missing data, data errors, data not frequently used. This is a major catalyst in your decision making on what to keep and what to leave behind.

Certain specialists will take your data to a fresh environment and cleanse it. This needs strict scrutiny yet when well commissioned, it returns efficient, clean, structured data for migration.

Stage 2 extract

As most data is now migrated to cloud based environments, a specialist will have relevant skillsets to help you extract data from source databases and “stage” this in preparation for its migration.

Stage 3 transform

This is a real focal point for specialists. Your data is inside fields in one format now, described in code. It needs to be transformed into a new format. A specialist knows how to order data and can help you describe it in technical terms for its transformation by your technology partner.

Stage 4 load

This is interesting as it is a primary task expected of your technology partner. However, in recent experience, the weight of heavy loading may be shared between third parties. Also, a specialist can “manage your end”, ensuring data loads safely and smoothly from its current to new environment.

Stage 5 test/Stage 6 sign-off

A caveat.

You must test your own data. It is yours and you know how it should work even within new systems.

You are also responsible for accepting the final data migration before you go live. What we find is that a specialist remains valuable here as a key reference on steps taken during migration.

So look, if your internal team takes a brief like the one above, look you square in the eye and states unshakingly, “we’ve got this!” you should listen. If doubt exists, consider a third party as an option.

There is no shame in that.