Data conversion into a new system is always a significant effort. This is true even if you’re moving data from an existing SAP system to a new SAP system, as is sometimes the case with mergers and acquisitions. The planning and effort required to successfully pull off a data conversion is not something to be under-estimated, even if the source and target systems are both SAP systems. The good news is that with some solid advanced planning, use of a few best practices and the leveraging of certain tools, this doesn't have to be an effort that leaves you pulling your hair out.

1) Avoid converting Job/Position history.

  • Consider archiving this important data in a manner that is retrievable but outside of your new SAP system. Having the Job and Position history is very desirable. However, consider that in order to successfully convert Job and Position history, the team would have to construct the historical Organization Management (OM) Objects in the new system. This is challenging in a couple of ways:
    • First, this means fitting apples and oranges together. Chances are good that the terminology, standards and catalogs in the target system will not mirror that of the source system. An organization looking to bring across that history would have to determine whether to go through the large effort of mapping historical Jobs and Position names and other attributes from the source system to the target system or choosing to muddy the new system with old terminology from the source system.
    • Second, consider the number of Actions that will need to be executed for each Personnel Number as part of the conversion. This can greatly increase the complexity of the data conversion and validation process.
  • A better approach might be to archive the data into a data warehouse or other data store.

2) Resist the urge to re-use existing Actions.

  • While it is advisable to re-use as much of the existing target configuration as possible, resist the urge to use existing Hiring and Rehiring Actions for data conversion. If your data conversion will include Employees in any status other than active, it is wise to create new Actions for use in Conversion that are First-Entry Actions using the correct status. These can be labeled as Conversion-only Actions and assigned to a User Group that does not impact your existing users. These conversion-only Actions will ensure that the employees do not appear to be active in the system for one day due to conversion.
  • In addition to inactive and withdrawn employee considerations, there are commonly interface implications to using existing Actions. For example, you may have an interface that uses the Hiring Action Begin Date to populate a particular data field. In the case of a conversion population, this may result in unforeseen consequences.

3) Plan to turn on External Numbering as part of the data conversion.

  • Turning on External Numbering and pre-assigning a Personnel Number (PERNR) to your conversion population makes the planning and execution far simpler. Examine the rate at which new PERNR’s are assigned in the target system today and extrapolate a reasonable range for use in this pre-assignment. Be sure to take into account any planned acquisitions that will occur prior to the conversion go-live.
  • Conversations with Basis will need to occur in order to ensure that they are on-board with opening the production system for configuration since number ranges are not transportable (strongly discouraged), but this effort is worth its weight in gold if you’re able to use a pre-assigned PERNR in your testing.

4) Establish Positions in the Production system in advance if this is feasible.

  • If you are able to use pre-assigned Personnel Numbers via External numbering, consider establishing the Positions directly in Production well in advance of Data conversion. Use a testing client refresh or a Data Copy Tool to copy these to your testing environments. In this manner, you’ll be able to replicate your production cut-over by hiring your conversion population right into the Positions that have been established for them in Production. This will aid in testing not only the technical nuts and bolts of your conversion process, but also the data-readiness on the Organizational Management side of things.

5) Use a data comparison tool if available.

  • A good data comparison tool would allow you to link your source and target systems together and, via a series of mappings, compare the data that you exported with the data that was imported in the target system. This eliminates the need for manual comparison of data via spreadsheets.

6) Try to perform all data translations/mappings either on the extract or the conversion side.

  • Try to avoid having some translations/mappings occurring during the extraction while others occur during the conversion.
  • Ideally, all translations/mappings would occur during the extractions so that the conversion program is loading pre-translated data. This allows the conversion program to be re-used more easily down the road.

7) Practice! Practice! Practice!

  • In order to have confidence that your final production data conversion effort is well-planned and designed, you’ll want to practice that conversion at least twice in a testing environment. If you run Payroll in SAP, you can use these practice conversions to fuel your Parallel testing phases.

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