Data Conversion Best Practices at DEO
Understanding Your Data
- Dedicated data conversion specialists
- Team leader for every 5 data operators
- Data conversion manager for each group of 4 team leaders
Converting Your Data
- Data back-up
- Data Cleansing
- Prototype Solution
Mapping Your Data
- Conversion rules
- Conversion scripts
- Data Conversion Schedules
Our Data Quality Parameters
Introduction to Data Conversion at DataEntryOutsourced
Implementing advanced data conversion techniques requires many individuals working together on your behalf as an effective team. We are exceptionally proud of our expert team — here is a brief overview of the DEO data conversion team:
- DEO has a dedicated staff of specialists for data conversion activities.
- We have an experienced team leader for each group of five operators.
- DataEntryOutsourced has a data conversion manager for each group of four team leaders.
DataEntryOutsourced excels at making seamless data conversion methodology available to you cost-effectively. We are proud to share our data conversion best practices with you.
DEO's Best Practices for Data Conversion
Developing High-Level Data Mapping
Data mapping is the process of linking together elements from two or more sources or databases. This typically involves a delicate balance among often-conflicting challenges such as deciding which data to transfer, planning a timely schedule and selecting the appropriate data conversion tools:
- High-Level Mapping — Determining which data will be migrated and which data is redundant.
- Conversion Rules — Defining how items such as new codes, blank records and inappropriate entries will be processed.
- Conversion Scripts — Developing a specialized script for extracting, transforming and loading data in its ultimate destination.
- Data Conversion Schedules — Planning in detail when and how data migration will happen.
- Handling Special Concerns — Handling and converting legacy data is an example of the challenges due to variations involving user base, data volume, methods of distribution and data type.
Without careful coordination of high-level mapping, rules, scripts, schedules, tools and special concerns encompassing the entire data conversion process, data conversion and migration projects can quickly fall apart at the seams. At DEO, it's our job to worry about these daunting details so you don't have to.
Understanding the Drivers of Data Complexity
Legacy data almost always presents incompatibilities that must be successfully addressed. Here are typical illustrations:
- Data Structure Design — Some legacy databases have text fields being used as date fields. This can be especially problematic when dates are entered in multiple formats such as October 1, 1999 or 10/01/99.
- More Than One Data Source — Legacy designs often include two or more databases (such as Access and Excel) being used for client records. Keeping each client's data properly linked requires a high level of attention to detail.
- Data Field Inconsistencies — Even simple fields like one for "Client Name" can result in conflicting entries (John Adams and Adams, John).
- Unorganized Documents — The naming conventions for legacy documents originating with local networks will frequently be at odds with rules needed in a new database.
- Data Fields With Extra Entries — It is not unusual for legacy data fields to have inconsistencies in how data was recorded. This is especially true for address data and single fields such as a phone log.
- Target Data Cannot Be Matched With the Source — The new database will often not have a field that is comparable to the legacy source. Decisions will need to be made regarding whether to exclude data or choose the most appropriate field.
Asking the Right Questions
Are you asking the right questions about data conversion? As management expert Peter Drucker observed, "The most serious mistakes are not being made as a result of wrong answers. The truly dangerous thing is asking the wrong questions." Here are 10 of the right questions to ask about your data conversion strategy:
- Have you identified all major complications that are expected during data migration?
- How many of your employees are needed for the data conversion process?
- Have you reviewed the benefits of outsourcing your data conversion tasks?
- Is your staff familiar with data conversion best practices?
- Will information be eliminated or transformed during the migration project?
- Is your objective to stagger the conversion of legacy data over time or to do it all at once?
- What do you plan to do with historical data that you do not need for current business activities — but might need for other reasons such as legal and statistical purposes?
- Will data cleansing be required prior to migrating legacy system data?
- What specific data must be converted and migrated to your new database?
- Are there potential conflicts between current production applications and the migration process?
As the above list suggests, unexpected data conversion surprises can lead to even more questions. For example, since historical data is typically not converted from a legacy system source, what will you do with data that is not converted?
Adopting an Agile Data Conversion Methodology
Your final results when converting data are a direct function of the methodology used. If you do this yourself, you should anticipate spending many hours formulating a workable methodology. On the other hand, if you outsource data conversion to DataEntryOutsourced, we will do all of the required heavy lifting by using DEO's data conversion methodology elements:
DEO preserves your original data prior to migration, manipulation or cleaning.
Data errors, inconsistencies and redundancies are fixed by DataEntry Outsourced before the conversion process begins.
Because of our extensive data conversion experience, DEO will quickly produce a prototype solution that we will test and then retest using sample groups of data until we are fully satisfied with the outcome.
With the data conversion best practices used by DataEntryOutsourced, our data conversion techniques are constantly reviewed for possible changes — flexibility is an indispensable part of DEO's data conversion success record.
Ensuring Data Completeness and Accuracy
Unfortunately, choosing the right data conversion tool is not enough. Even in the smoothest data transition, there will be "bad data" — DataEntryOutsourced routinely expects this to happen and knows what to do about it to make sure that the overall data conversion process stays on track. DEO uses an independent quality assessment review to not only find bad data but to also validate all data being migrated. Here are some of the key quality parameters our data conversion team is always assessing:
- Compliance — Does the data conversion meet regulatory standards?
- Timeliness — Is data available upon demand and up-to-date?
- Accuracy — Can data be validated as correct?
- Validity — Will the data work as it needs to for your business?
- Consistency — Is the data easy to understand and consistent?
- Relevance — Is the data relevant for its intended use?
- Accessibility — Will you be able to access the data easily and export it as needed?
- Completeness — Is any required information missing?
- Integrity — Is the data structure logical and coherent?
You don't need to do this yourself — DEO can take care of everything without the need for you to hire any additional employees. Consider hiring DataEntryOutsourced as your data conversion partner.