Employee Data Provides IT with Opportunity to Cut Costs, Add Value


If you're looking for a way to prove your value to the business, go have a chat with your HR director about the problems with employee data.


Employee data integration is a major challenge for companies today, Forrester Research analyst Paul Hamerman said in a recent Industry Standard article. So, these types of data integration projects are a great way for IT to add value to the business, he said


Employee data problems can create major business headaches, as the article's mini-case study of Aker Philadelphia Shipyard shows. Aker had three legacy HR systems-none integrated, and all containing contradictory data. The company actually spent thousands in fees each pay period because of incorrect payroll checks-not to mention the problems caused by lost injury reports.


In 2004, the company decided to clean up its employee data and consolidate on a new solution. So far, the company has saved almost $660,000 through reduced fees, payroll errors and escrow payments, according to article. The consolidation project also decreased payroll errors by 90 percent.


How's that for creating a nice ROI and IT/business alignment?


The article doesn't specifically mention data migrations, but I think it's a safe bet, given that they're moving from three legacy systems to a new solution. In fact, according to Bloor Research, most data migrations are actually associated with some sort of change to the application environment-even in cases where your goal is to switch databases.


Data migrations can be pretty scary projects, because there's a lot that can go wrong. Bloor Research says there are three main areas of risk with data migrations:


  1. Data profiling, or understanding your existing data
  2. Maintaining data relationships during the migration
  3. Assuring a smooth handover process at the project's end.


In "Business-centric Data Migration," a whitepaper available for free download, Bloor contends part of the problem is that IT departments over-rely on the "big bang" approach to migrations. Bloor suggests IT can improve success with data migrations by taking a more incremental approach. Among other things, that requires:


  • Planning for the migration from the get-go instead of at the end of the project
  • Migrating data based on business entities, rather than data tables, to reduce breaking relationships
  • Running the two systems in parallel until you've ensured every thing is functioning as it should
  • Using an external model within the migration model to tell the applications where to look for the data, rather than putting flags in the original databases


If you're considering a data migration project, you might also want to review "How to Migrate Your Data in Seven Steps," which was recently published in SAS.com Magazine. It's written by David Barkaway, the company's data integration solution manager for the SAS Global Technology Practice, and includes more information about the data profiling step.