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Successful Data Conversion

Here's the ideal picture. You've bought a wonderful new software system you know will make your life easier and your business more profitable. The data has been transferred from the old system to the new. Now you want your staff to be able to get right to work.

How to accomplish this? Planning is the key. Conversions are complex, whether or not you convert your data, we do it, or you hire external technical help. If you convert accounts on a Friday night and you expect to be working in the new system on Monday morning, proper planning, setting up, training and testing must have been completed first.

No two systems are the same. Many aspects need to be implemented. By spending time at the beginning, understanding what is needed and preparing for it, you can avoid frustration and minimize any down time.

Planning

Get to know Collect!.
This is a very powerful tool and how you use it can be as basic or sophisticated as you choose. We recommend that you start closer to basic. As your system knowledge matures, so may your system setup and work flow.

Get the whole team on board.
Have staff look at Collect!. Consider installing Collect! on a machine where everyone can gain access. Do yourself a favor and get some basic setup done before they look. This will provide a sense of familiarity and security and promote team spirit.

Install Collect! as a demo on as many workstations as you wish. Give your staff an opportunity to look at Collect!, try it and ask questions. They are the ones who will be working the system, so it makes sense for them to be comfortable, knowledgeable and competent.

What does the technician need?
Getting the data out of your old system is one of the more important steps you need to take. Do you have the knowledge and skill set within your office to perform this task? Don't assume, try it. If you feel this is not your area of expertise, you may wish to find a local technician to help you or perhaps request help from the original software provider. Comtech cannot take responsibility for exporting your historical data.

Please read our documentation about importing. Even if you don't wish to become an expert yourself, you will gain a better understanding of the complexities and will be prepared to work with the technicians doing the conversion. Comtech provides expert conversion service at very a reasonable cost.

What do you want the data to look like when it gets into Collect!?
Manually enter a client and a few debtors. Choose the fields you want to use and the way you want to use them. Most fields can be relabeled to make your use of Collect! intuitive. If you don't like your initial attempts, delete and do it again. Before you make field name changes, look at the Collect! Help on the Debtor form to ensure you don't violate any Credit Bureau reporting requirements.

If you are having our technical experts convert your data for you, they will ask you to plan as outlined above and to send any resulting information to us. Regardless of who is doing the actual data conversion, they will appreciate your superior planning and expertise.

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Getting To It

Collect! Setup

While your data is actually being converted, you have time to get ready. Now is when the real work begins. Setup is key to your entire operation, now and in the future. What is your standard work flow? What reports and letters do you require? Get these in place before your accounts are brought into the new system.

You will want to list the status codes you use, create your contact management process, place your transaction types and operators so your new system is in line with the old system aspects. There are many other important areas. It is absolutely essential that you review the Setup Checklist in the Collect! Help system.

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Testing

The first pass on your converted data has been made and delivered to you. You feel pretty confident that you have set up Collect! very nicely and know what you are doing.

Ready, Set ... Do not go live. Test, test, test.

Regardless of how knowledgeable and thorough you are, there is no replacement for double checking your work. You may have missed something. Test. (If at all possible, it is best if you can run your old system and your newly setup and converted Collect! database side by side for a while.)

Installing new software usually means modifying your network to get the best performance. Collect! is no exception. You or your technicians may have to deal with newer equipment, maybe a new operating system, and some changes in network configuration. Running systems side by side is an excellent opportunity to verify you have been successful. It is almost guaranteed that there will be something that was not thought of or has been overlooked on the first pass. That is why you must test. If there are little tweaks that need to be made to the import or the data, your hardware, network or their setup, now is the time to find out, before you go live. The second pass will be much more polished and your confidence level and knowledge of Collect! will have increased considerably. Now is the chance to run the old system and new side by side for final verification. Ideally, you should run month end on both systems and compare the figures. When everyone is confident that setup and data layout are just right and the numbers are correct, it's time to make a final cutover and go live.

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Bottom Line

Getting your data from system A to system B is not enough. Representatives of many software companies will tell you how easy this is. Please take what they say with a grain of salt. You must think through time lines, understand the new system and prepare it according to your needs and according to the data you are about to convert.

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See Also

- Preparing For Conversion
- Testing Your Conversion
- Going Through With The Final Cutover
- Import/Export Topics

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