Data Migrations Fail

3 Reasons Data Migrations Fail

Three key things cause data migration failure. The book Practical Data Migration by Johnny Morris explains that the most common data migration failures have to do with technocentricity, specialist skills, and the blame game.


The problem with tecnocentricity is that you’re thinking of a data migration as just a technical issue, and not thinking about the business’s responsibility in the project. At its core, a data migration is moving the business’s records from one place to another. The IT team or consultants that you hire to help you with this are just facilitating that move.

It’s the responsibility of whoever owns the data to oversee the process and make sure you have enough time to review the information and ensure it gets from A to B. Always make sure that data migration is not seen as just an IT issue, it is a business issue.

Specialist Skills

The next reason for data migration failures is a lack of specialist skills. What I mean by this, is that the person who’s doing the data migration needs to have a specific skill set. Not only do they need to have the IT ability to understand what migration tools and coding skills are required to move the project from A to B. They also need to speak to the businesses’ language so they set up the records in a manner that can be understood by the firm.

In addition to that, they have project management skills because they can’t take forever to move the data. That’s going to cost a lot of time, money, and resources that are often limited during a data migration. In my experience, there isn’t one person who can do all those things. Data migrations go best when a couple of team members come together to get it done.

The Blame Game

Johnny Morris explains the blame game as the data migration process unfolds. The projects starts off, and the IT folk start migrating the data, they begin to minimalize inconsistencies, and making note of problems. But, once they get into the hot and heavy part of the migration, they start compiling lists of data issues and coming back to the business because decisions need to be made which causes the project to grind to a halt.

If the expectations weren’t set at the beginning, that the business needs to be involved in the data migration to review the data, and make decisions, they’re going to be doing their normal nine to five job. If they get served with a whole list of issues, when that expectation wasn’t there, then there can be some combativeness.

I’ve helped in several data migrations, nobody’s data is clean, the only time it’s clean is if you start with a blank database. There’s always going to be some issues, some decisions, some assumptions that are going to need to be handled, and it’s essential that the business understands this going in.

If you are facing a records data migration with your firm, I can help ensure the project goes smoothly. Book a 10-minute strategy session with me here

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