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Data Migration Can Make or Break Your Next Software Implementation: SAP Provides Tools, Templates, and Expertise to Ensure Success

by Clive Bellmore and Oliver Huschke | SAPinsider

April 1, 2009

Nearly 80% of all data migration projects run over time, over budget, or both. Uncover the keys to a successful data migration project, and enable the business to take charge of their data's quality.

Let’s say your company is replacing its legacy software to support business growth. Or perhaps you recently acquired a new subsidiary. Maybe you need to consolidate the number of systems you are running. All of these scenarios require data migration.

Yet nearly 80% of all data migration projects run over time, over budget, or both (see sidebar). Why? Data migration is not an everyday task, so many organizations aren’t experienced with it. And because many companies focus so intently on the actual system implementation, data migration is only an afterthought. Organizations forget that data is what drives their key business processes and that poor data quality can lead to a late go-live, potential business disruptions, a delay in expected business benefits, and even a loss of credibility — both internally and with external customers. Your ERP system could be the most advanced configuration in your industry, but without the right data quality driving it, it’s like filling a Ferrari with diesel fuel.


Traditionally, IT has dealt with data migration through spreadsheets and manual coding. IT teams would then have to rework much of the migrated data once they loaded it into the target system, solving any “dirty data” problems on an ad hoc basis. Meanwhile, the business had no visibility into the process. Perhaps they were involved with the legacy-to-SAP system mapping process or with configuration and requirements on the ERP side. But they had no visibility into the data’s quality — only when their business processes were affected did they realize something was wrong with the data.

SAP has long noted these problems and realizes that the keys to a successful data migration project are to give IT the tools they need to clean and validate data, and to enable the business to take charge of their data’s quality. We’ve designed the SAP Data Migration Services solution to do just that.

Supporting the “Perfect” Data Migration

Traditional data migrations have suffered from a disconnect between IT and the business. With SAP Data Migration Services, we’re seeking to bring customers ever closer to a perfect data migration that:

  • Empowers business to work together with IT to establish clear project and data quality metrics; this allows the business to make educated decisions about when the data quality is acceptable and at what point the data is ready to migrate to the new system

  • Sets up a project roadmap based on factual metrics (compiled by information management tools) that account for data quality rules, rather than on an estimate projected by a consultant who might not have all of the relevant information

  • Enables IT to collaborate with the business early on, throughout the project, and during the cutover to the new data system; this ensures that everyone involved with the data migration has a clear understanding of the project’s status

  • Employs strong project management to ensure alignment across the various teams involved in the new system’s deployment

  • Results in high-quality data that will support business processes post go-live

SAP Data Migration Services: The Components

To support this perfect migration, SAP Data Migration Services consists of methodology, templates, tools, and expertise that will jump-start your data migration project (see Figure 1). This solution gives IT teams the tools they need to efficiently and cost-effectively validate and migrate data into their new SAP implementation and enables the business to set the levels of data quality they need to optimally run their business processes.


Figure 1
SAP Data Migration Services provides companies with the methodology, templates, tools, and expertise they need to ensure a successful data migration


SAP has always included data migration as part of its ASAP methodology. Now we have enriched that content with the new capabilities provided by SAP Data Migration Services. The updated methodology focuses on the best-practice route to analyze, extract, clean, validate, load, and reconcile data (see sidebar) — all with a focus on ensuring data quality.



With SAP Data Migration Services, IT can access templates that outline exactly what steps they need to take at every stage of the process. This enables IT to begin working on a data migration project with an out-of-the box solution. These templates are built into the SAP BusinessObjects Data Services tool (which we’ll discuss further) and can provide considerable productivity gains for your data migration team. Moreover, a prebuilt data quality model template allows you to immediately start capturing data quality metrics when you begin the project. In addition, the prebuilt SAP BusinessObjects universe sits on top of the data quality data model to give business users a business-centric view into their data.


The SAP Data Migration Services solution includes several tools that enable companies to check data quality before they migrate it to the new system, as well as to analyze and manage that data. These tools, many of which are SAP BusinessObjects information management (IM) solutions (see sidebar), also provide businesses with a level of visibility into data quality and the data migration project that they have not had before — through visualizations, such as dashboards or Web-enabled reports (see Figure 2).


Figure 2
Xcelsius dashboards give the business greater visibility into the progress of a data cleansing project

For example, SAP BusinessObjects Data Services extracts configuration data from SAP solutions into a data migration framework. This extraction allows any legacy data to be checked against SAP business rules, which can then be tailored to match customers’ needs. Each data quality check then categorizes the result against a standard list of data quality categories — such as “Validity” or “SAP Configuration.” This comparison allows IT to view the state of data quality at a single metric level, at a category level, or at an even deeper level, letting companies drill down to individual rows of data that fail this check.



At any step in the methodology, companies can engage SAP experts through the following services:

Data migration workshop: This is a two-way know-ledge exchange in which SAP explains the data migration solution and methodology and demonstrates the tools used. Based on this workshop, SAP will also provide a findings and recommendations report to the customer. The customer benefits from gaining insight into where and why projects go wrong and learning how best to manage their risk.

Data audit: The concept of improving data quality can sound rather theoretical. And perhaps customers aren’t certain if they actually have a problem with their data. In this service, the customer provides SAP with a copy of a data set — usually customer or vendor data — which is then profiled by a data quality consultant. At the end of this engagement, SAP provides the customer with a report that highlights areas of risk and recommends how to mitigate them.

Data migration readiness assessment: In this engagement, companies can work with SAP experts to take a detailed look at their legacy systems, infrastructure, information management needs, project management approach, and, most importantly, their data. The goal is to give participants a project timeline and scope estimate that’s tailored to their business environment.

Implementation: Companies can employ SAP experts to conduct a full implementation and data migration, to teach in-house project teams while acting as a quality assurance advisor, or to work alongside an implementation partner. The goal is simply to employ SAP’s product and domain knowledge to help customers succeed and ensure that their investment in SAP software is maximized.


The quality data that results from SAP Data Migration Services paves the way for smoother, more efficient data migrations. But the benefits of this quality data don’t end there.

Effective Data Migration: The Long-Term Benefits

The quality data that results from SAP Data Migration Services paves the way for smoother, more efficient data migrations. But the benefits of this quality data don’t end there. Higher data quality also enables best-run business processes. And it opens the door for improved data governance and master data management.

In the context of data migration, data governance involves defining roles and responsibilities for subsets of master data. This same approach can be applied post go-live, providing a cultural change to an organization by allowing business users to see the real benefits of managing the quality of their data during the data migration. With these clear-cut benefits, business users will be more motivated to ensure that the data stays clean on an ongoing basis.

For more information on SAP Data Migration Services, visit or contact your SAP account representative.


Additional Resources

  • Migrating Your SAP Data (2nd Edition) by Johann Gradl and Michael Willinger (SAP PRESS,

  • “Business Objects Migration Solution, New SAP Enhancement Package Top Fall Conference Announcements” by Davin Wilfrid (ERP Expert, Volume 1, Number 6,

  • “Data Governance to the Rescue” by Chris Miller (SAP NetWeaver Magazine, Summer 2006,


Clive Bellmore ( is Vice President of Information Management for
SAP BusinessObjects Field Services. He has worked in the information management arena for over 10 years. Clive is responsible for defining key solutions, including SAP Data Migration Services, aimed at adding value for SAP BusinessObjects customers. Prior to joining SAP BusinessObjects, Clive built and sold a consultancy focused on the information management arena. He graduated with a first-class honors degree in information management from Brighton University in the UK.


Oliver Huschke ( is the Director of Business Development at SAP AG. He has worked for SAP since 1997, starting within development and now driving innovative services offerings out of service business development. Prior to joining SAP, he studied business engineering at the Berlin University of Applied Sciences.
He is also a member of the Junior Chamber International (JCI).


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