What are the responsibilities of a data migration sponsor?

One thing I've discovered over the years is that many data migration sponsors don't understand the 'nature of the beast' that is a data migration project.

Particularly for those sponsoring a data migration for the first time, they can often appear as the 'icing on the cake' of a much larger IT implementation.

Because organisations carry out data migration projects infrequently, there are no corporate policies or guidebooks to follow, plus mentors or advisors may be equally thin on the ground.

When I present to business leaders about the methodologies and strategies involved in data migration, many people realise that the disciplines and skills required are considerably more involved than they anticipated.

I thought it would be useful to provide a two-minute taster of some topics that, as a sponsor, you need to be mindful of in a data migration project. You won't necessarily be delivering these tasks (almost certainly not), but it is your responsibility to ensure that your project isn't cutting corners, especially if you're outsourcing to a supplier.

Here are some activities you may want to consider for your upcoming project.

  • Pre-migration impact assessment (PMIA): Have you asked your team (or external consultants) to assess the underlying data to see whether the migration is even feasible and what approach should be taken? The information gathered is invaluable and helps you create more accuracy around scheduling, risks and costs.
  • Detailed contract review: Have you reviewed the intended contracts and fully understood your obligations? Do you know all the data quality tasks and any additional requirements your company will have to address?
  • Project governance: Have you overlooked how the project will be governed and how decisions will be made? A project steering group is something you would be expected to chair – or at least contribute to on a regular basis.
  • Stakeholder communication plan: Have you worked with the project leader to define how the stakeholders will be informed of progress during the project and what their involvement needs to be?
    Data quality management: Have you been included in the data quality management process so that you are part of the decision-making strategy for signing off any remedial work?
  • Fallback Strategy: Have you overseen the fallback strategy for how the team will roll back any changes in the event of migration failure at run time?
  • Legacy system termination strategy: How will the legacy environment be decommissioned? Who will be required to sign off each system? What conditions will they want to make this a reality?
    These are just some of the key areas that data migration sponsors often miss. What else do you think should be added to the list? Welcome your views in the comments below.

What else should a data migration sponsor be looking out for? Welcome your ideas in the comments below.