As a customer, implementing new SAP versions or switching from an old ERP to SAP can be challenging. Many customers are looking for a comprehensive data migration solution that doesn't just copy and paste data but also performs data check, based on specific business requirements, minimizes errors, and implements organizations guidelines.
Data migration is the process of transferring data between different digital entities, regardless of the type and complexity. When dealing with data migration in a business scenario, it’s important to focus on different factors like:
1. Minimize the downtime inactivity of the systems 2. Reduce tasks that have to be manually executed by users 3. Map data structures and provide data validation rules 4. Provide a repository of all data migrated
Using process automation, it’s possible to manage all these points, creating a workflow that'll fulfill all requests regarding accountability, security and ease of use. From the process analysis point of view, data migration can be divided into three macro-processes:
Data extraction from system #1
Data check and validation
Data entry into system #2
Every process can be developed independently and can be used regardless of the Data Migration process. For example, any of these automations can be used into a change management workflow, or for creating test cases for new features.
Automation can also solve another issue that can be found when dealing with data migration, especially as external consultants, when there's no access to SAP table and views. This issue can occur because some tables contain sensitive data that a restricted group of business users or administrators can view, or because changes to tables can lead to malfunctions in the whole system.
With the creation of a specific data extraction process, it’s possible to retrieve data directly from the transactions that business users use every day, without the need to access tables and using view mode.
The same method applies with the data entry automation, that doesn't necessarily require access to tables but can be created directly on business TCodes.
This procedure automatically brings another advantage within itself, so that data entry automation will perform two things simultaneously:
Enter required data into the new system Perform a test for the same actions that'll be performed by business users when the system is released
Having shown what are the advantages of using automation in data migration, let’s see how to use data migration on a single SAP function.
Building an automation for data migration, it’s quite similar to what you'd do for any SAP-based automation.
There are a few important factors to keep in mind when dealing with data migration automation. We'll highlight them in details.
Avoid specific automations, try to keep your automation as generic as possible. In this way you can use it again when it'll come to upgrade your system or check for a change (for example, layout change or new fields). Following the previous concept, it’s better to create different small automations that perform minor tasks rather than one big automation that does all the migration process.
This will bring some advantages, such as:
Smaller automations can be developed (and run) independently Possibility to check the result after every automation and eventually re-run it
Users can manage task order as they prefer. For example, doing all the extractions first rather than one at a time. Report accurately what's been done by the robots, so it'll be easier to check all the steps and eventually correct anomalies or missing entries. The following example shows how a single automation that performs data migration can be created.
Given a list of items to migrate, logs into a legacy system, and executes a display transaction (Eg. VA03 for display sales order).
For every order it saves all relevant data into a collection, that stores in an Excel report as output.
Optional: Retrieve the validation rules and, given the Excel report, perform data check and data conversion from old system to new system (e.g. change, client ID naming convention between the two systems).
Starting from the Excel report delivered from #1 , or created/changed by the user, it logs into the new system, executes create transaction (following previous example, VA01 for create sales order).
For every order, it executes the creation and updates the previous report with the order number. The new report will be saved as Output for the user.
Process automation can be a powerful tool when used with data migration, saving a lot of time, avoiding errors, and performing data validation as well. Moreover, it can be used on a variety of systems, from old mainframe applications to the newest SAP release.
Finally, the automations created for data migration can be “recycled” and automate daily activities that users will do on the new system, bringing more and more efficiency to the company.