You are in charge of a software migration project. You could not resist the features and benefits of the new version you are going to install. That's all well and good, but how can you make sure you get the migration right? Fortunately, there are tactics and strategies you can use to handle your next software migration better.
What is a Successful Software Migration?
A good migration is one that end users barely notice. Of course, they should notice the cool new features of the new software, but not the migration itself. This all the more difficult if the software is key to what the users do. It is undoubtedly a challenge to maintain business continuity while the systems at the core of day-to-day operations are in the process of being replaced.
And a successful migration should not make your IT team want to rip out their hair. Time and again, customers’ migration trends are keeping software providers up at night – and with good reason. That does not mean there is nothing you can do. Read on for strategies and a real-world example.
Seven Strategies for a Successful Software Migration
Starting off with the right foot is very important in a software migration. While there is, of course, a lot that could go wrong during this process, proactive preparation can mitigate the majority of the risks. Investing in developing seamless migration strategies pays off. Here are the aspects you should take care from day 1:
Assessments aren’t optional. Knowing the software, the data and the existing customizations and integrations before migration is critical. Discover what stakeholders can provide information and speak to them as many times as needed.
2. Planning and design
You know where you are because you have done your assessments. You know where you want to go to. That means you only need to plan how you’re going to get from A to B. Decide what you want to do, choose when you want to do it and determine what resources you will need (including humans!).
Clear communication upfront paves the way for a successful migration. If you feel end-users are nervous about this process going wrong, start by providing success stories. Then communicate your assessments and planning, but make sure it is understandable for the end-user and focused on what they need to know.
4. Backing up
In case something goes wrong during the migration, the last thing you want is to lose data. Make sure you know where all the data is, to begin with. Then make sure there are backups for it. Finally, ensure that all backups been tested before you proceed.
A good migration strategy involves thorough documentation of the process. You need to record what did not work well alongside what was successful. You will be able to use it for future reference, either during the current migration process or in future migrations.
6. Test, Test, Test
During the planning and design phases, plan for the tests you will need to perform. During and after the deploy, test the software migration to make sure you are achieving the desired outcome.
7. Timing the Deploy
No matter how well the whole migration process went, it is difficult to avoid being nervous when the time comes to "flip the switch". Consider the best timing for this initial transition to occur (Overnight? On the weekend? Friday afternoon?). Also, consider if extending the migration over a greater period of time would work better. We will have a look at a specific case in which that might be the best approach.
A Real-World Example with Dynamics 365 Business Central
Although on-premises Dynamics NAV is still up and running, with a new, upgraded cloud version of the software available, many companies are interested in migrating from Dynamics NAV to Business Central.
This makes sense. The cloud version has a lot more functionality. With the new version, organizations can use the new interface, the web-based login, the improved business intelligence and have more flexibility – and other new features and updates will be coming soon. Moreover, it is easier to integrate the Dynamics 365 Business Central with other Microsoft cloud products. Not to mention that with the global trend of cloud-first and mobile-first, the on-premise versions of Dynamics will most likely become obsolete in a few years.
Taking data from the old system and inserting it manually into the new one is virtually impossible. So, this upgrade is more of a migration. This means you can apply all the 7 strategies we discussed above. Let's take a closer look at how to handle the deploy.
In this case, it might be better to have both systems running in parallel for a period, allowing for smoother customer onboarding. For that to work you would, of course, need to be synchronizing Dynamics NAV with Dynamics 365 Business Central for that period of time.
Software migration that keeps the old system active
Let's say you choose to have both systems running in parallel for 6 months.
In this case, the game plan would be:
1 - Taking care of Assessments, Planning and Design (including test planning), Communication and Backing up
2 - Install Dynamics 365 Business Central
3 - Set up the two-way synchronization of Dynamics NAV and Dynamics 365 Business Central. For this, an advanced integration platform such as Connect Bridge, with its dedicated connectors, is recommended. You need a flawless solution, but it needs to be up and running fast. The integration platform is the way to make it happen.
4 - During the 6 months, you can do training, move users in "batches" to the new system, execute the planned tests and
5 - Do the final flip of the switch and turn the old Dynamics NAV off. By now, all users will be comfortable using the new system, and, moreover, this will have been a successful migration. You have kept the system running… not you!
Software migration that preserves existing integrations
Using Connect Bridge + the Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central connector is also great if you want to keep existing integrations. Let's say your system picks up data from Dynamics NAV or makes data go into Dynamics NAV. Using this strategy, you can move from Dynamics NAV to the cloud version Dynamics 365 Business Central and not lose your existing integrations. And it can even work bidirectionally if you need it to.
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By Ana Neto,
Connecting Software spreads through 4 different countries and truly is a global company. We are also a proud "Top Member 2019" at CRMSoftwareBlog.