Project Tips: Prep for Data Migration

Foto: iStockphoto
Photo: iStockphoto

Mr. Hofmeister, before we look at the secret of your success: What is VIVA-PRO all about and what triggered the project?

Hofmeister: VIVA is a German acronym and translates as “fully integrated procedures for complex applications.” The VIVA-PRO project was triggered by the Bavarian Supreme Audit Office, which audited human resource management in the individual state departments in 2004. In the departments such as the Ministry of Finance, the Interior Ministry, and the Ministry of Agriculture, it discovered a total of 16 different procedures and proprietary software systems. The system landscape was therefore highly heterogeneous. That’s why the Audit Office urged us to implement an efficient, centralized system with standardized processes across all departments. The result is VIVA and VIVA-PRO.

What’s the difference between VIVA and VIVA-PRO?

In the VIVA project, the Ministry of Finance modernized payroll accounting between 2003 and 2005 for all employees of the federal state of Bavaria on the basis of SAP R/3 4.7. VIVA-PRO is an extension of the VIVA project, encompassing personnel and job administration for all state agencies from 2007. The basis here is also the standard solution from SAP with central management. In the long term, it is more economic and efficient than a homegrown solution.

But a standard solution is not necessarily a sure winner. We can see this if we look at a similar payroll project for another municipality, where the goal was to use the software solution to manage all payments to its more than 200,000 state employees and modernize the billing system. The project encountered problems, even though the data volume to be managed was only half as big as that of VIVA and VIVA-PRO. The state of Bavaria manages the data of 470,000 state officials, state employees, and pension recipients.

Yes. I don’t know exactly what the problems were in the other project. But observers assume that the project there failed mainly as a result of the faulty transfer of data into the system. The extremely large volume of data was also a major challenge for us. With VIVA-PRO, the project team had to migrate more than 300,000 HR master data records with around 11.5 million individual data records (such as education, place of birth, career path, and qualifications) to the system without jeopardizing the monthly payroll.

We worked very hard on preparing the data records, so that we could keep the error rate low. For example, clerks deleted duplicate data from the legacy systems, added to data if necessary so that it could be transferred properly, or standardized value lists. Later, in the live migration, we largely managed to eliminate the sources of error detected in the mass tests. The functioning data migration was definitely one of the decisive steps toward the project’s success.

Next page: About training of the staff, quality insurance and time buffers

Rudolf Hofmeister, the project’s manager of VIVA-PRO
Rudolf Hofmeister, project manager (Photo: Private)

Are there any other keys to success, apart from a well-prepared data migration?

First of all, I would say the detailed, almost two-year design phase, which resulted in an implementation and expense plan with a realistic estimate of the personnel and financial resources required. At the end of the project, we were in budget. It was also decisive that we remained in constant dialog with the colleagues in the individual departments and we took the employees’ fears about the upcoming changes seriously. Here, we had an acceptance management concept with a detailed communication plan and impact analyses, for example, which department will participate and with which employee in which project phase.

What’s more, we placed particular value on training using our own staff, strict quality assurance, a tiered approach to implementing the SAP system, and time buffers, so that we could react to unexpected events such as changes in personnel, software upgrades, or legal changes. Using our own risk management concept, we managed to adjust project deadlines in time and communicate these to all the affected parties – which meant that changes didn’t hit us so hard.