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Data Migration Demystified: 3 Things Cemeteries Should Know

Data migration-2

| Read time: 4 mins

As a key component of digital transformation (and it could be argued, one of the most challenging and complex aspects of it [1]), it’s important to understand the crucial role that digital migration plays in the process of digital change.

Digital transformation will reflect a fundamental change in how you operate and deliver value to those you serve - the thing that doesn’t change - your data, is what allows that to happen. With that in mind, let’s start to demystify the process of data migration by looking at  3 key things you should know.

#1 Data Migration is a Process of Change

Let’s start with the obvious question - what is data migration? Put simply, data migration is the process of transferring data from one system to another. 

As with any transformational process, there are a wide number of factors to be considered that will help to shape and define exactly what it looks like. That may be the type of data to be transferred, where it’s currently stored, what format it’s in (and what format it’s becoming), where it’s going and how it’s getting there.

To that point, there are a number of different types of data migration. For deathcare providers, that may involve transitioning data from one system to another, consolidating data from multiple systems into one cemetery management system, or moving data from on premises to the cloud. 

It may even very likely involve moving data from the applications of one vendor to another.

Each has their own challenges - for example, where source systems and target systems use different data structures [2] (ways of storing and organizing data on a computer so it can be organized, processed and managed [3]), or different data formats.

Most typically, a migration with PlotBox - in its most simple terms - will involve taking data out of a customer database and placing it into our own, in doing so, mapping fields into the new cemetery management system.

#2 Data Migration is part of a wider transformation

There are many reasons why a cemetery, crematory, or combo funeral home may want to migrate their data. Most typically, this will be part of the digital initiatives affecting wider organizational transformation - of which data migration will form the foundation. 

Quite often, deathcare providers face the imperative of upgrading legacy systems or software, faced with the prospect of vendor servers becoming unsupported, or, as mentioned, seeking to consolidate multiple systems into a single cemetery management system. Data integrity, accessibility and scalability are often priorities, and migrating data into new systems - quite often cloud-based - is one of the best enablers to achieve that.

Many of the benefits that data migration can provide are those that come from creating a single source of truth within an organization - breaking down silos of information, creating more efficient processes, providing greater visibility and connectivity, and ensuring more informed, data-driven decisions.

So what does that look like in practice?

#3 Processes may vary, but best practice remains constant

While not all data migration processes are the same - in part due to differing types of data, the systems involved, and the specific requirements of the organization - there are, broadly speaking, a number of common steps in all that point to best practice. 

With PlotBox, for example, migration takes place over a number key stages, informed by and building upon the previous, to ensure as smooth and efficient a transition as possible.

These begin with project configuration, ensuring everything is in place to begin the migration, and on through to resolution where any issues picked up in the testing phase are resolved before the project is signed off and moved to the training phase.

Let’s look at some common steps:

Planning will always be the all-important first step. That means identifying and understanding current systems and processes, the data to be migrated and what you need from the new system. 

Analysis involves looking closely at your data to determine what needs to be pulled over and what it looks like in its current form - what needs to be migrated and what doesn’t, what might be missing [4], and whether there are inaccuracies - essentially anything that may adversely affect the migration process. It’s crucial to ensure this is done before extracting, transforming and importing the data into the new system.

Testing, testing, testing - both by the vendor to ensure that the data has migrated to the target system correctly, and by the customer, to ensure what exists in the source system matches that within the new one. That’s key to ensuring any issues are resolved before going live.

And as a final point - a ‘4th thing to know’, if you will, is understanding the importance of the role that you have to play within the data migration process.

You know your data better than anyone else - including, importantly, your migration partner. And therein lies the key takeaway. 

That begins with ensuring that your data is ‘clean’ before the migration process begins. Getting your data right in the first instance is arguably the most important part of the entire process, and will ultimately save you time, money and effort in the long run.

Similarly, during the testing phase - as you know your data best, you’re best placed to identify any discrepancies to ensure they are resolved.

“We’ll fix that later”, is a phrase that should be avoided at all costs - get it right first time, and you will be enjoying the benefits your new cemetery management system provides, rather than rectifying issues that could have been avoided.

Refs

[1] A perspective in Data Migration on Digital Transformation

B Blanchette, Third Stage Consulting Group, Dec 19

[2] Data Migration

CFI Team, Dec 22

[3] What is data structure: Types, Classifications and Applications

A Biswall, Simplilearn, Dec 22

[4] Understanding Data Migration: Strategy and Best Practices

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