When we talk to schools about migrating from their current Management Information System (MIS) provider, many have concerns about the process. Migrating your MIS in particular is viewed as a gargantuan task, one that school staff simply don’t have time or resource for on top of their many other duties. Others similarly don’t believe they have the technical resource to oversee what is perceived to be a complex process.

The truth is that data migration isn’t the torturous task it once was. Data extraction tools are effective and with the right partner on board, data migration should no longer be considered a hurdle to launching a new MIS which will ultimately provide opportunities to futureproof and streamline your school operations.

In this article we’ll discuss our top tips and best practice for migrating your MIS:

Involve the right people

Choosing the right people to manage your data migration project, both internally and externally, is key to its success. Data migration takes careful planning, regular communication and accurate execution. At iSAMS, we’ve migrated more than 1,000 schools from all major MIS providers and in-house bespoke systems.

Your migration is managed by a team of experts, including a project manager and a technical installer, who are on hand throughout the project to guide you through the process, make recommendations and take care of the technical stuff.

Equally important, however, is choosing the right team from within your school to work on the project. We recommend you assign a ‘Migration Sponsor’ to head things up and be a central contact. Ideally, this will be a member of staff that is enthusiastic about the prospect of having a new system, whether they’re an IT professional or a teacher looking forward to a change.

Many schools believe that a migration project requires technical expertise, but you can leave that to us. We see the best results when the person or people involved in the migration process are advocates of the new system, understand their school’s data, recognise the long-term benefits the change will bring and are ready to get stuck into the task at hand.

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Plan, plan and plan again

When undertaking a migration project, the goal is to go live with your system at a date and time that suits your school. To achieve this, effective planning is required. Every school has different needs, requirements and resource levels and it is, therefore, important to match the project timelines to these different factors.

Choosing a ‘Go Live’ date that works for your school and staff is a good starting point, and from there, an installation team can work backwards to create a robust and manageable project timeline that works for you. Some schools choose to spread the tasks over the course of several months to ensure everything is done at your own pace.

At iSAMS the implementation project plan will be set out at the start of the project by the project manager. The plan will be updated and shared regularly based on agreed timelines and will include some contingency because we know that sometimes, unexpected things happen.

Correct planning, along with regular communication with your implementation partner, sets the project up for success.

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Understand your data

Before your migration partner receives your data, it’s a great idea to ensure you understand it first. Data mapping essentially means matching up fields in one database to another and is one of the first steps to facilitating a smooth migration project.

Before your migration project starts, take some time to understand which fields in your current system will need to be migrated to your new one and what the naming conventions for each of these are.

Effective data mapping often leads to a smoother extraction process when it comes to the data migration itself, as fewer errors are included and less time is taken rectifying these.

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Cleanse your data

A move to a new MIS is a welcome opportunity to have a cleanup. Problems that are present in the original data source can have a greater impact when transferred to a new, more advanced system.

Starting your migration with high quality, validated data makes for a smoother process. Take time to cleanse data, such as updating contact details and removing errors and duplicates. Only healthy, clean and relevant data should make the cut!

At iSAMS, we don’t expect that the data will be 100% accurate before extraction, and the data will be checked during the migration phase with built-in time to make any changes. We also provide clients with data cleansing tips to help with this process.

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Review your data in a live environment

The data will be migrated over from your current system into the new one, usually ahead of training. This means that when users begin to learn the new system, they are working with real data, giving context to the experience and enhancing the learning process.

Once the initial data migration has been completed, it’s good practice to thoroughly check your data in the new MIS instance to ensure it’s accurate.

Staff can perform several checks to ensure the data has populated in the new system correctly, and the implementation team can help to guide you through this. The training team will also work with you to identify and rectify any potential anomalies.

Hear what schools say about migrating to iSAMS here.