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Spring Cleaning: ERP Data Edition

By TJ McDowell

Spring Cleaning ERP Data

Clean ERP Data, or Risk Project Failure

It can be tough to throw junk away. We become consumed by irrational concerns: What if we need that fondue set that’s still in the box? Couldn’t that VCR player come in handy some day? Then, we tend to abandon our spring cleaning because we lack a sense of urgency. I mean, is that pile of old clothes really hurting anyone? But as we all know, the longer we let our old things pile up, the harder it becomes to locate items that are actually important.

When businesses embark on an ERP implementation, they often experience a similar dilemma. Even if they’re aware that they are supposed to clean their enterprise data, they’ll only perform a cursory data cleanse or avoid the process altogether. However, unclean data poses a far greater threat than holding on to your VCR player. A painstaking data cleanse proves one of the most essential tasks in software implementations. Without looking through your existing data with a fine-tooth comb, you risk severely delaying the go-live date and losing out on your investment. Below, we explain why clean data is essential for ERP success and give our tips for thorough data scrubbing.

Seriously, It’s Important

ERP consultants often have a tough time convincing businesses of the importance of data scrubbing. Clients are under the false impression that they can transport all their data into their new system with no problem, but that’s not the case if that data includes a significant amount of useless or corrupted information. More data means more time needed to sort through information and more delays in getting your system up and running.

Besides wasting time, refusing to perform a data cleanse will frustrate users. The point of ERP is to increase efficiency and utilize historical data for informed decision making, but this isn't possible if users are constantly searching through outdated data.

Consultants also run into clients who think they don’t have to take on the task of cleaning their data—the ERP vendor will take care of that. Wrong. Vendors aren’t going to undergo the burden of cleaning your enterprise data. It’s up to your project team, with the help of ERP consultants, to make sure data is ready for your implementation.

Best Practices for Data Cleaning

One major mistake that businesses often make during their data cleanse is tasking their IT team to do all the work. Remember: The IT team isn’t going to be using most of this data in their work. They might not understand which datasets are important and which can be thrown out.

Data cleaning requires input throughout your departments. Assign a person or team to consult with various departments to decide which data needs to be retained in the new ERP system. Third-party consultants help clients nail down the details of their data cleaning process to ensure the correct strategies are implemented and business processes are supported.

Now that you have a team in place, it’s time to thoroughly go through your information:

  • For duplicate records, you might want to merge these fields into one flow.
  • Purge outdated information, such as product codes no longer in use or data for long-gone employees, suppliers and customers. 
  • Standardize and validate data to ensure accuracy and organization.
  • Migrate data to test environments to check for missing fields and other problems that could be traced back to inaccuracies in the legacy software.
  • If you’re a bit of a data hoarder struggling to part with old information, there is help. Archive anything that you don’t want to sync but could potentially be of use down the line.

Don’t Go Overboard

On one end, you have data hoarders clinging to unnecessary information. But on the other end of the spectrum are those so eager to transfer to a new system on a blank slate that they purge too much of their information. You can’t afford to lose entire records of critical data.

When looking through records, don’t just consider what users need currently. Determine which information should be retained to enable accurate forecasting and support long-term business goals. Furthermore, some regulations require data to be stored for a specific length of time. Keep these mandates in mind to ensure you have the information necessary for compliance.

Keep Data Clean

Now that all the work has been done to clean data, the worst thing your business could do is mess up that data again and jeopardize your ERP investment. Strictly enforce guidelines to ensure each employee uses best practices when reporting and inputting fields. Something as simple as inconsistent acronyms or using hyphens instead of periods for phone numbers could muddy reports.

Another approach to maintaining clean ERP data is to limit data access. Full access will make users more prone to create errors in the current system. Grant users access only to the tools they need to execute their work.

Wrap Up

Ultimately, the performance of your ERP system comes down to data integrity. Though ERP is designed to help users maintain precise data, the new instance can’t magically transform messy, outdated data into organized, useful information. Make sure your new system serves as a fresh start for your business by cleaning data before going live.

Datix, an Epicor Gold Partner, offers the ERP expertise to ensure an in-depth data cleanse is part of every client's implementation or integration process. With 20 years of business process modeling expertise, we understand that each manufacturing and distribution firm operates differently and has unique methods for using and managing data. Our ERP consultants will guide you throughout your software project, using best practices and data scrubbing techniques to execute a successful implementation and align your software with your business goals.

Don’t put your ERP project at risk. Reach out to our ERP experts for an on-time, on-budget go live!

CONTACT AN EXPERT AT DATIX TODAY!

Tags: data management, Epicor® ERP, epicor partner, ERP implementation, erp project, erp consulting firm, clean erp data, erp expert

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