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Master data is an essential building block for a successful ERP data conversion. This is especially the case when a company has an international footprint.

Data conversion is not usually a priority at the beginning of an ERP implementation. Instead, the focus is often on planning and design, while data conversion is a muddled topic that people tend to avoid.

Following is an initial checklist for determining the scope of your data conversion project:

  • Get your IT team together (both locally and globally) and map out the data inventory by country.
  • Take inventory of the data that falls within the scope of the project, and communicate to the project team any data outside of the project that could be impacted in future phases.
  • Identify who should be the data owner for each functional area (globally, regionally and at a country level).
  • Identify the key issue that you foresee causing roadblocks in the process.
  • Identify early resource requirements for the developers converting the data and the amount of time end-users will require to review and cleanse data.

Following are four aspects of data conversion that should be addressed during a global ERP implementation:

1.  Scope. When defining the scope of a data conversion, organizations should keep an eye out for data that will require review by the executive committee. Most likely, this will include data elements that relate to the core of the organization’s culture. These may be items that your organization has avoided because they seem too hard to address.

2.  Documentation. As with any aspect of an ERP implementation, you will want to have documentation when conflicts arise or when no one can make decisions. In this case, you will need a signed document from the steering committee stating who is responsible for the data at the global, regional and country level for both master and transactional data.

3.  Language Differences. Most likely, you will encounter different systems speaking a variety of ERP languages layered on top of cultural and language differences. It is vital to identify these complexities early and communicate to your project team where you see the need for executive decisions. This will eliminate slow periods in the data conversion, allowing developers to stay engaged.

4.  Timing. Organizations should identify data ownership and begin data cleansing prior to the design phase and prior to consultants being on site. This approach will make the design phase more productive, and the project won’t be bogged down by data instead of focusing on integration and process improvement.

While data conversion involves many stages, the most essential of these is the planning phase. The individual responsible for the data conversion and strategy will need to be proactive and allocate time to educate the project manager, core team and steering committee of the issues and risks that will impact the project timeline. Take the time to plan and your organization will enjoy strong relationships with its customers and stakeholders.