Some Data Conversion Tips

I was recently asked for some guidelines on data conversion, when moving from one database to another. Here are some tips to keep in mind:

  1. Convert only the data you need. And the data you need is probably less than you think. For example, other than open invoices (invoices for which money is still owed), you probably don’t need to convert ANY old invoices. You may want to convert data on what was purchased (e.g., event registration, membership, product, etc.) but the actual details (e.g., payment type, payment date) are probably no longer significant.
  2. Follow the rule of 100-1000. See here for details.
  3. Keep your legacy database (or at least the data from it), but don’t provide immediate access to all users. You will almost certainly need to access your legacy data at some point, but don’t make it too easy for staff to get to it, or they’ll become dependent on it.
  4. Use this opportunity to STOP collecting data you aren’t using. As noted in #1 above, only convert the data you absolutely need. And if no one can make a case for that demographic data you’ve been collecting for years (does anyone really care what school our members went to?), don’t convert it, and stop collecting it.

About Wes Trochlil

For over 30 years, Wes has worked in and with dozens of associations and membership organizations throughout the US, ranging in size from zero staff (all-volunteer) to over 700. In that time Wes has provided a range of consulting services, from general consulting on data management issues to full-scale, association-wide selection and implementation of association management systems.

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