How good is your data? ERP database and data integrity considerations
When you implement your new ERP software solution are you switching database platforms and do you already have an in-house DBA? Say you are switching to Oracle and the implementation requires a qualified OEM DBA. Oracle may bring in a pre-sales consultant that has both hardware and software expertise to assist their sales people with technical meetings and to help determine your hardware and software requirements. Your IT team could meet with the Oracle consultant to carry out a gap analysis on in-house technical expertise.
With this knowledge you may decide that the most cost effective solution is to bring in a consulting DBA and outsource this function for the life of the software. Or you could invest in training for one of the IT team to learn Oracle basics such as SQL, pl/sql. If your IT people already have some RDBMS skills - MySQL or SQL Server for example - they are well on their way to learning Oracle.
Oracle self help training is freely available by downloading the Oracle database at http://www.oracle.com and following the Oracle by example series. It provides step-by-step instructions on how to learn each Oracle technology.
You can also learn tools to build extensions to Oracle apps. Follow the above point and learn to develop applications using technologies like Oracle Forms or Oracle Applications Frame Work using jdeveloper, Oracle Reports etc.
A data confession
I have a thing about data - I could look at it for hours. Seriously! When I am looking through an ERP database I am drawn to the vendor list - how many ways can you spell the same vendor name? - and to all the other tables where little oddities appear in the data. I have the urge to fix everything and have often been tempted to say “can you leave me alone with your data for a week before we start the implementation?”
If you are planning a data migration as part of your ERP implementation, allocate sufficient time to go through the existing data very carefully and clean it up. Have two or three people committed to the task if possible.
The vendor list was always the favorite place to start and I once found six records in use for one vendor:
Insurance Corporation of British Columbia
Insurance Corporation of BC
Insurance Corp. of BC
Insurance Corporation of B.C.
It is amazing how creative data entry can be, especially if there are no set guidelines. Does your company have naming convention guidelines for your data entry people?
Inventory lists can be another minefield of obsolete and duplicate items that should be taken care of prior to starting the implementation.
Before deciding to automate the data conversion process, weigh the options first. How much volume is there and what percentage will convert successfully? Even if you are migrating from a similar system, every record in your new ERP database will still have to be examined manually to guarantee data integrity.
Would it be better to rekey it all? It may sound like a resource intensive task but will enable you to incorporate a series of checks and balances as you go. Using control reports and organizing the data into small manageable batches will keep the process organized.
The objective is for your new ERP database environment to have pristine data tables populated with real data, so clean up your data first and take it slowly.
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