LMS Data Migration Made Easy - Raytheon

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LMS Data MigrationMade Easy

DATA MIGRATIONMigrating from one learning management system(LMS) to another can be challenging for manyorganizations. Several recent research reports on thetopic of LMS data migration state that this continuesto be one of the major pain points when it comes toswitching systems, and is a reason often cited for notmigrating. Often, frustrated LMS customers feel thatit is too difficult or expensive to make the switch.However, with careful planning and the rightapproach, it is possible to manage this process, painfree, to help LMS customers get the results they seek.We have created this guide to walk you throughthe process, making the move significantly easierand minimizing the risk of nasty surprises. We havebroken this challenge into seven key steps to make itas straightforward as possible for you to move fromyour current platform to a learning platform thatbetter meets your needs.

STEP 1 – THE MOST COMMON ISSUESWhen a customer wants to leave one LMS and moveto another system, the contracts often state that thecustomer will ‘receive the data files.’ Unless you area database administrator or have the ability to readthe data and understand the tables and fields, it willrequire a great deal of effort to make sense ofthe data.DATA MAPPINGWhen moving from one LMS to another, the tablestructures, names and table logic will be different,so data mapping is an important initial step in themigration process. This is usually left to databaseexperts who can help quickly determine the structureand where the important information is located.TIME TO MIGRATENormally, data mapping and migration to a newsystem takes from 2–9 months. While this may soundlike a long time, the majority of this period involvesthe customer making decisions and completing dataclean-up activities. Guidance from an expert such asRaytheon Professional Services, can assist in makingthis process more efficient, shortening the migrationtime from most other leading enterprise LMSs (andfor mapping others).

STEP 2 – LMS MIGRATIONS ARE LIKE MOVING A HOUSEHOLDTaking a step back for a moment, a great analogy foran LMS migration is like moving into a new house.There are some striking similarities between the twothat offer a more tangible way to think about theLMS migration process.MOVE WHAT YOU REALLY NEEDThis may sound obvious, but often time runs out andthe tendency is to move everything and do limitedcleanup, intending to sort it in its new location. Atfirst, this may seem like a sensible approach, but justlike moving to a new house, the upfront effort beforethe move will pay significant dividends in thelong run.CLEAN NOW, NOT AFTER THE MOVEOf all the possible tasks in the moving process, thisis the one that will give you the maximum returnon your time. Once you have your data out of yourexisting system, data cleanup and organization canbe significantly easier during the transformationphase rather than after the date has been importedinto the new LMS.Going back to the moving house analogy, ifyou were to spread out all of your belongingson a large warehouse floor, then organize anddecide what to get rid of first, it’s easy to seehow much more efficient your packing andorganizing for the move would be.The same is true when it comes to learningsystems data. Taking the time to sort it outupfront will reveal what needs to be discardedor sorted out before you move anything; forexample course duplicates, bad descriptions,courses that are no longer used and plenty ofinaccurate and outdated information.

STEP 3 – WHAT TO TAKE AND CLEANING YOUR DATAThis is an important executive decision, so you needto ensure you provide your executives with good,sound options.HOW MUCH DATA NEEDS TO BE MOVED?The first response from some leaders will be “Weneed it all moved,” so this is when you need to askfor specific details for clarification before you doanything. For example:Do we need to transfer informationfrom the since-retired employees from thecompany we acquired in 1995? Do we need to bring over courses that westopping using 15 years ago? What about courses not used for the pastfive years? By questioning the value of some of the very olddata, these hesitant leaders will start to realize thatyou don’t need to bring over everything. Then, youshould decide what to bring over from the old systemand document this decision for future reference.WHY CLEAN THE DATA IN ADVANCE?Frequently, companies run out of time and energy to do any data cleaning in advance of themigration, but in our experience, companies have found that spending 1 on data cleanup beforethe migration will save 16– 25 after the migration.This cleaning activity will also have a huge impact for the users when they try to search and use thenew system. The look of the new system materials can have a great “first look” impact, and willhelp in your users’ ease of use and acceptance of the new system.Focus on cleaning up the redundant, outdated and inactive courses, old curricula and outdatedcertifications. In addition, make an effort to clean up course descriptions and reassess where theyshould fit in your course catalog.The ideal goal is to have all your courses looklike the same person created and describedthem; not having confusing descriptionsand outdated information. This newlook should be part of an updatedgovernance guideline.TOP TIP:Archive any data you don’t takeover to the new LMS, for instancein accessible spreadsheets. Thiswill reassure executives who maybe nervous about losing legacydata, and ensures you still haveaccess to a full record of learningmaterials and activities.

STEP 4 – DATA CONTENT AND MOVEMENTOK, HERE IT IS, NOW HOW DO I FIX IT?Now that you’ve pulled all your learning data into aclean, consistent format, what’s next? Continue tobreak your content into logical segments and dividethe effort. For example: Training facilitiesLearning by delivery methodRegistration informationCompletion informationUser informationBy breaking the information into coherent categoriesand “segments,” you are actually getting ready forthe data migration. You are also checking once againwhether or not each piece of data really needs to bemoved in the first place.YES, I AM A DATA HOARDERNot all of us will admit we are data hoarders, but weall get a little paranoid after losing files, so don’t besurprised when one of your stakeholders challengesyour plan not to bring all of your old data over. Thisis another reason why you need a plan to archive theold learning system data.

STEP 5 – LAYER CAKEBy this point, you should have all your data brokeninto smaller segments, cleaned up and ready to beplaced in your new LMS, right? Well, not so fast.Going back to the moving house analogy, you willneed a finished house ready to move into. And theway that new home is constructed is very similar tothe way you have to think about getting your datainto the new LMS.You can’t plug a new appliance into the wall untilyou have an electric outlet. You don’t have an outletuntil you have wiring installed behind the wall. Youdon’t have electricity in the wires until they are allconnected into the circuit panel – you get the idea.So, like moving into a new house, there is a rationallayering approach we must take when data ismigrated into a new LMS.Each learning system has a logical flow to input data.Many systems have automated import functions andsome may be manual steps that an administratormust complete. In the layering of data, think abouthow you would manually create a new course orcurriculum, and you will understand the sequencethat will need to take place to get the data intothe system. For instance, you can’t give a persona completion credit for a course that isn’t in thesystem, and you can’t give a person curriculumcertification unless the curriculum is in the system.There is a logical order to importing data tothe new LMS: Base informationCourse informationCurricula and certificationsCourse offering and structureLearner dataManager dataCompletion informationForward-looking information such asregistrations for future coursesMost companies forget to ask migration timing questions when they obtain a new LMS, andlearn the hard way during the implementation process. Raytheon Professional Services makesmigration easy. We understand how to insert existing data in an automated approach tomake things even easier.

STEP 6 – BIG BANG OR DELTA MIGRATIONSAnother critical decision point deals with how youwant to go live with your new system and how muchtime you can afford to be without your LMS. If thesystem can only be down for a weekend or couldbe down for an entire week, there are differentmigration options available.There are many different approaches for getting yournew system in place, but it essentially comes down totwo options.1. THE BIG BANGThis migration approach is where you stop using anold system one day and the next day, the new systemis up and running.2. DELTA MIGRATIONThis migration approach is where there can begroups within an organization that move first, andthen eventually the whole organization is usingthe new system. Normally both the old and thenew system are available in parallel, and the deltamigration option has many different variations.So, which approach is right for you? Normally, theapproach will be decided by upper management, andwill also depend on the complexity of the migration.Larger migrations tend to conduct some variation on the delta migration approach, where amajority of the data is moved into the new LMS, and over a changeover period, the remainingdata is moved. Even after go-live, there is normally one more clean-up migration to ensuredata is accurate and nothing is missing, but for most users this will be invisible. Your migrationexperts will evaluate the options available and make recommendations.Change management is another important element of the migration and go-live, requiring adetermination of how different or challenging the change will be for the user audience. The levelof change can determine the type of migration and how the rollout should take place for themost effective implementation. For global companies using multiple languages in many regions,a phased rollout will be the most effective.

STEP 7 – SELECTING A MIGRATION SOURCEAll of these considerations might appear daunting,but if you select a team with experience in LMSmigrations, you will be quickly guided through thesesteps. It will still require committed resources on thecustomer side to make decisions and to understandwhat is best for each company.We are fortunate enough to have a large number ofexperts in our global network who can support yourmigration needs and answer any questions youmay have.Working with experts that not only understand thenew LMS and its capabilities but also understandhow data should be cleansed, mapped and efficientlymigrated will help ensure your new system not onlylooks great, but also has all the existing data in theright place and ready to use.

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