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Three Reasons Software Vendors Outsource Data Conversion Projects

Outsourcing is a common strategy used by many businesses for a broad variety of reasons. It is particularly effective for data conversion projects.

Whether you serve the medical industry, utility districts or other industries, there are three key reasons to Outsource Data Conversion Projects.

1. One time projects are not profitable and are not a good use of in-house, development professionals.

2. Manage the difficult task of maintaining affordable staffing levels during up and down business cycles.

3. Using actual customer data during training and implementation.

Converting information is a non-trivial problem.

Consider the extraction of data from literally hundreds of legacy source systems with all their myriad formats, formulas and algorithms for storing, manipulating and managing the ever changing data climate in which you and your customers work.

It is not necessary to do this work in-house.

First: One time projects are not profitable and not a good use of talented, in-house development professionals.

Data conversion and software development require different, highly specialized skills. For this reason alone many software vendors outsource data conversions. They want their development team to remain focused on the most important work, developing and updating marketable software.

Most often data conversions are one time projects. As such little is to be gained by developing a data conversion protocol and the tools to make it work. Each new project will differ enough to render the previous conversion code not fully useful. Reworking the code each time will make the cost-benefit ratio go negative.

Outsourcing to a data conversion partner will give you access to the experience which they gained over many years and hundreds of conversion projects. For them these are not one-time projects.

· They have proven data extract algorithms.

· Their team understands the American business culture.

· They have hands-on experience with many software systems and data bases.

· Data conversions are their core competency, not just another service they offer.

· They know how to manage customer expectations.

· They can help manage projects.

Second: Manage the difficult task of maintaining affordable staffing levels during up and down business cycles.

Managing staffing levels is an ongoing problem for many businesses. This problem is made more acute by periods of ebb and flow in sales. Data Conversion and Implementation teams are dramatically affected by these up and down cycles. To some degree that problem can be managed through planning and scheduling. However there comes a time when no amount of planning can manage customer expectations without making them unhappy and losing some sales.

The prudent staffing solution is to pre-arrange an injection of experienced, skilled personnel by engaging one or more outsourcing partners.

Outsourcing data conversion tasks is a better answer than adding permanent staff. The outsourcing company retains responsibility for maintaining the necessary level of personnel and technical expertise even as demands go up and down.

However, the right number of skilled people is only part of the solution.

Managing projects and timelines, and coordinating efforts between multiple parties, are crucial to success. Outsourcing can do much of this work, in close coordination with decision makers. This can create an unexpectedly successful management triangle.

Third: Using actual customer data during training and implementation.

Features and functions in the new system do not work as they did in the legacy system. How well users learn and remember how to use them will become a pivot point in decisions regarding the longevity of the new system.

Training the end user

in the effective use of new software is of paramount importance

for project success.

Effectively using a new system is made easier when customer data is used in training sessions.

When staging of a data conversion project and its timeline, two important items can be provided by the data conversion team. First, schedule the delivery of test data to coincide with the training schedule; Second, include a full test run for evaluation and signoff prior to the final data extract.

Validation of test results will require less time and fewer frustrations when customer data is used in training.

You can decrease the learning curve and increase memory recall by training with customer data.

Testing and validating data are partially done in training. This occurs because users recognize the data and can tell when it is inaccurate and/or incomplete. The correlated effort pays rich dividends. However this correlation is not effective when done in-house. Efficiency, for an integrated in-house staff seems to demand compartmentalization of tasks thus removing the desired opportunity for correlated efforts.

To reduce staff time further, the outsourcing team will do some of the leg work. They provide refined test data files, they make programming and data corrections.

The objective of training with actual customer information, is to deliver quality and reduce the hands-on staff time needed for testing and validation.

Your call to action:

Gather information about outsourcing and lay the foundation for a functional business decision about its use.

Bear in mind, an outsourcing company can deliver more data and better conversions for less cost, both direct and indirect.

· Their experience will include knowing the pitfalls to avoid, and which ones you and they can just plow through.

· Multiple outsourcing partners can be used to meet volume demands as well as to deal with unusual problems presented by infrequently encountered databases.

· Outsourcing companies are database agnostic.

· Most legacy data comes from older technology whereas software vendors focus on current and new technology.

· Not all changes incorporated by vendors into their systems affect their database.

· Outsourcing teams do not need to know how to develop the requisite databases, they focus on knowing where the data goes, in what format and how it is interconnected.

· They understand that data does not appear in the database as a customer sees it.

In summary, guard against diverting attention from the primary objectives of the business. Don’t be distracted by immediate or urgent needs. Keep your focus on the long-term health and profitability of your business.