Laying solid foundations for a successful data migration

Michael Svensson
October 2023

System transformations are receiving a lot of press at the moment – and no wonder. With SAP ending support for ECC in 2027, many companies have started looking at the possibility of migrating or upgrading their old systems. This will help them be better equipped to face the challenges of the future. The same goes for enterprises outside of the SAP world and those engaged in modernisation or M&A strategies.

As with any major project, IT-driven or otherwise, meticulous preparation is essential. It significantly reduces the risk of failure, while reducing the cost and effort involved. In the case of a data migration project, the most important thing to establish up front is what you’re dealing with. In other words, the volume and type of data you have, its structure and quality levels, and much more.

At Xmateria, we have a proven procedure for providing companies with this information. Prior to the actual migration project, we engage with customers on what we call a data discovery assessment.

The first task in the discovery phase is to establish what you want to achieve. This could range from a relatively simple system upgrade through to a complete transformation to SAP S/4HANA. Or maybe you are looking to carve out (spin-off or divest) or carve in (acquire) a business as part of your planned M&A activities.  It could also be that you are looking to ascertain and improve the quality and accuracy of your data prior to starting any of the above project types.

Next, we work with you to understand what data you have. If your data is in SAP, we accelerate the process by deploying our proprietary Pioneer software to analyse your system(s) and identify what data exists and whether it is active.

Based on what data you have and what you are trying to achieve with your project, we determine how to best meet your requirements.  We have a variety of high-performance, automated tools at our disposal, and we will recommend the best one(s) for the job depending on the data requirements and project objectives.

All these activities have one goal: clarity for everyone involved. This provides our customers with visibility of their data assets and challenges, both in the short and longer term. For Xmateria, the analysis gives us the clarity to prepare for, plan and cost the data migration. Crucially, it reduces risk while giving us all an accurate idea of the project’s scope.

The deliverable from these activities is a detailed assessment including the following key elements:

  • An inventory of in-scope data based on the analysis including data volumes and quality
  • A clear set of objectives and a methodology for how best to proceed
  • A detailed technical approach that is the best fit based on your project requirements
  • A costed project plan with roles and responsibilities

Putting the focus on data prior to the actual migration or transformation project is often neglected. The activities covered in a data discovery assessment should not be seen as additional effort. Instead, they are tasks that have been brought forward from the main project. Companies often struggle if they leave it too late to start looking at their data and how to manage the migration. Companies that don’t prepare, preferring to forge ahead with the data migration or transformation, (very) often get mired in difficulties down the line when they encounter unexpected challenges or issues which they then need to resolve mid-project when time is tight.

A recent case that highlights this challenge is the UK council that attempted to migrate from SAP to Oracle. This project, which has gained mainstream attention in the news, acts as a reminder of the need for meticulous preparation when undertaking a data migration project. The customisation of the legacy SAP environment presented a formidable data migration challenge that the project team failed to adequately assess at the start of the project leading to substantial project delays and huge budget overspend.

In short, laying a solid foundation for your migration project makes good business sense, reducing risk and giving you the best chance of a achieving enduring business benefits.


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