One of the most valuable assets to any company is the data it stores. According to a recent study completed by Markets and Markets, the global data market size is projected to dramatically increase from $162.6 billion in 2021 to $273.4 billion in 2026.
The size of the global data market is extremely substantial and with over 1 million property transactions in the UK annually property sector data is also vast. Effective management of this data is essential for the survival of estate or letting agents.
Over the years information surrounding client lists, a sale of a house or the signing of documents have allowed estate and letting agents to accumulate masses of valuable data. With such an important emphasis surrounding data, the prospect of then having to migrate data to a new provider naturally causes many agents to become very wary of the whole process. Add in concerns over GDPR compliance and it’s easy to see why many property professionals choose to stick with their legacy software.
So, what is data migration?
Data migration is defined as being the process of transferring data from one location to another. So why has the thought of data migration become a major concern for many? Have you ever worried about losing that precious data you have worked hard to achieve? Well, you are not alone, thousands of companies have expressed their concerns over the loss or breach of their data and are therefore reluctant to move software.
Main problems relating to data migration
The big issue relating to data migration is having to organize and clean the data in the source software before the migration is due to occur. The longer an agent has been in business, the more data they would have accumulated which allows for a higher percentage of potential error among the data records. Whether this is the duplication of contacts within a certain database or personal data that is no longer compliant with GDPR, the task of sorting and cleaning this data is often daunting.
However, to allow for the data migration process to run smoothly, it is essential that all data transferred is in the correct format, compliant with data protection regulations and useful for the agency. Cleaning data is often seen as a drain of resources, however, it is essential to deliver a good user experience from the outset on your new software.
As Data Controller the agent has ultimate responsibility for the security and compliant use of personal data. The message here is, make sure you do your due diligence on your new software provider, check their security arrangements, and ask to see a copy of a recent penetration test that will show if the system is vulnerable to attack.
Data migrations often fail because data has been entered in different ways by different people. We often see notes fields used for email addresses and grades used in multiple different ways by different users. Often these issues can’t be solved by technical solutions and require clean-up of the data in the source system. There is often an expectation that data migrations will be flawless unfortunately this is rarely the case.
Mistakes to avoid
Before contemplating migrating your data read up about what the process entails. Speak to other agents that have been through the process and chat with your proposed provider. Watch out for “it will all be fine” comments as a good software provider will help you to avoid the challenges with an honest discussion.
A recent study completed by Data Migration Pro found that out of 123 data migration projects being monitored, only 46% of those projects managed to finish at their scheduled end date, which suggests that over half of all data migration projects overrun.
Another important element is ensuring that you have budgeted for the move. The study conducted by Data Migration Pro also found that generally only 36% of data migration projects kept to their originally forecasted budget, with on average around 23% of respondents with senior managerial roles worryingly having no knowledge of the budget at all.
It is evident that a structured plan must be conducted before the start of your data migration project. A particular emphasis on projecting realistic time scales and creating a realistic budget will allow for a much more successful data migration process overall.
Long live the “Just in Time” Data Transfer
So, is there a solution to the issues surrounding data migration and how can we avoid all the challenges associated with moving from one software provider to another?
Clearly, the ‘big bang’ approach can be is seen as being a potentially risky option for all the reasons outlined above. However, there is an alternative technology available that has been enabled by recent advances in software development which utilizes APIs to provide a much safer long-term solution for data transfer.
Just in Time Data Transfer (JITDaT) means that the agent retains access to all data entered in the legacy CRM and can choose to import relevant data to the new CRM when it is needed. For example, when a client that was registered in the agent's legacy CRM visits or calls the branch their details are instantly available for import to the new software. All the clients’ details can be imported including related properties, offers, valuation and notes.
The important thing here is that the system flags data issues on import meaning that imported data does not cause issues with system performance and remains compliant with GDPR.
JITDaT provides a less time-consuming and cleaner way of moving data between systems and removes the stress, risk, and cost of traditional data migration methods.
*Richard Price is the managing director of cloud-based agency software Dezrez