Archive for November, 2010

8 Steps to Planning a Successful Data Conversion
Monday, November 29th, 2010

Implementing a new retail system is difficult. A new system can result in many great benefits; improved business processes, access to more and better data, improved analysis, more intuitive results, etc. A new system brings hope and excitement for the future. Regardless of how great the new system is (will be), it cannot be successfully implemented without proper and fully converted data. Retail systems have a lot of complex data and converting it is no simple task. By following these 8 simple steps, you will significantly improve your chance of a successful conversion, with little or no disruption to the current process.

8 steps to a successful data conversion:

  1. Define Scope - Scope must be clearly defined up front. What is being converted and what is not? How much history is being converted? What can be done manually rather than automated? It may not be possible to convert ‘everything’. Scope is critical and the project’s success will be dependent on having this clearly decided upon.
  2. Identify data sources Where is the data coming from? If you have multiple systems or data sources, each data source must be clearly identified.
  3. Identify data destinations (APIs) Where is the data going? You must identify the source systems or databases and the appropriate APIs to get the data in there.
  4. Define requirements/mappings - This is what I believe to be the most critical step. Detailed requirements must be defined for each element within each conversion; what data mapping is required? What business rules must be applied? What data transformations need to occur? Each and every data element must be scrutinized and documented.
  5. Define Estimates – Assign appropriate estimate of effort to the development of each conversion
  6. Define Scope of Test – Scope of the testing must be defined. It may not be viable to convert ALL data as a test or it might be done in a number of steps – sample, small dataset, and then larger or full dataset. All of this must be defined and included in the overall plan.
  7. Who and how to validate – How is this all going to be validated? What results are expected and who in the organization is going to validate the results? Key users/sponsors must validate and feel confident with results.
  8. Develop Project Plan/Assign Resources – And lastly, build the project plan for all development, testing and validating tasks; identify the sequence and dependencies of all tasks; identify and assign the appropriate resources to each task on the plan.

Implementing any new system relies on a successful data conversion. Following these 8 steps will lead to a complete successful data conversion. What do you think? Is there anything else you would caution about or add to the list?

Movin’ Forward….
Sunday, November 21st, 2010

This blog has served me well and has given me an opportunity to share my thoughts and views on a vast array of  retail, retail technology, and personal topics. But now it’s time to move forward…in a different direction. Over recent years I have re-focused my business and expertise in the area of Data Transformation for retailers. And so, I want my blog to re-focus on this too.

The costs and complexity of Data Migration or Data Integration are not widely discussed or understood in the retail industry. Retail systems are not getting simpler, and most retailers are implementing or managing a vast array of systems, hoping to gain that extra edge; from systems such as Price Optimization to PLM, Planning, BI, Warehouse Management, and others. Retailers are connecting with their customers and selling through more channels (store, web, mobile, etc).  And retailers must integrate with 3rd party solutions such as 3PL, EDI, Financials, Human Resource, etc. For most Retail IT organizations, data integration is a frequent and on-going headache that keeps their best people away from value-producing projects. My blog will explore how retailers of all size can better deal with the ugly issue of data transformation.

We will provide some tips and suggestions, as well as explore new tools and new ways of managing all of the challenges retailers face with data integration. This will be useful to all retail system resources whether you are a user, IT, independent consultant, software company, or systems integrator. Your input will help shape the topics, and bring everyone’s experience and knowledge to this shared space.

Here are a few questions and planned topics:

· How can you improve the data conversion process when implementing a new system?

· What is your overall data integration strategy? How can it be improved?

· Is any of your data shared across multiple systems/databases? Can things be more centralized?

· What tools can facilitate/standardize your data integration process?

· What is the value in MDM (Master Data Management) solutions?

What would you add to this list? Are there any other topics that you would like to see discussed here? Please feel free to add your comments and let’s start the conversation.

Powered by Wordpress | Surcomm