Modern business systems hold a large amount of data. Therefore, when transitioning to a new system, crucial decisions include how much of that data can, and should, be transferred and how that should be achieved. When loading data to a new device, businesses generally have two choices; manual entry or electronic transfer. Both have benefits, and both have drawbacks.
Advantages of manual transfer of data
An essential benefit is that it is possible to keep the protocols and processes built for the task in place to help ensure that cleaned data stays clean. Another factor is that since modern technologies introduce new possibilities, a lot of legacy data typically needs to be extended anyway, and that usually requires new fields to populate.
Entering pending sales orders and inventory orders may be a big challenge for certain businesses. The good news, however, is that only orders due for delivery after go-live need to be considered. If during the transition it is required to enter orders to the legacy system, such details will often be entered only at a summary stage.
Finally, one benefit of making workers enter orders before go-live is that doing so is excellent practice and will bring them up to speed before actual ERP go-live when they will be at their highest pressure to succeed within a new framework.
Disadvantages of manual transfer of data
When keeping vast volumes of data, workers will eventually make mistakes; so all re-keyed data will have to be carefully reviewed, and considerable caution will need to be taken to ensure that adjustments to data in the legacy system, such as modifications to the bill of material, and new customers, are reflected in both systems during the transition phase. An additional issue is that the scale of the assignment could be such that several weeks, or maybe months, before go-live, it needs to be started.
Advantages of electronic transfer
One major benefit of transmitting data electronically, following from the previous section, is that minimal demands will be imposed on front-line workers, who will only be expected to review certain records to ensure that the data transmitted is both accurate and complete. And since only the procedure, and not individual documents, needs to be reviewed in detail, it can be assumed that data quality would be fine. It is possible to check the completeness of data transmission by comparing record counts in both systems or running reports.
Besides, the transfer can be checked and re-tested until it is flawless, and the actual live data transfer can be done at the last minute to ensure maximum replication of data in the old system, enabling system adjustments until the last minute without worrying about having the two systems compatible during data loading.
Disadvantages of electronic transfer
The major drawback of electronically transmitting data is that electronically moving data is usually a task that can be done only by the IT department because it needs specialist skills. If the data in the old system is wrong, then it will not be cleaned by the method of converting it, and it is normally impractical to expect IT to know what data is reliable and complete and what is not.
There is a very good case for transferring the data electronically when very large files have to be moved, and little or no augmentation or reformatting of data is needed. But if data volumes are small, or if the data has to be extensively manipulated before entering the new system, then there is little to no gain in writing customized transfer routines; particularly because expertise will be needed in both systems and the old system vendors, who will understand their data structures, may not want to be over-helpful in helping customers move away. There is a pronounced grey area between these two extremes, as is common in ERP, so decisions should be arrived at on a case-by-case basis. Companies are likely to discover that it is best to combine the two approaches (manual and electronic).