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What is your experience with migrating historical data to new system, especially if changeover is done other than at year end? (Webinar Attendee Question)

This question was asked by an attendee during the Proformative webinar “Webinar Video: Best Practices for Evaluating and Selecting Accounting Software" held on February 13, 2013.  Please join the discussion and add your insights below.

A video of the webinar can be viewed here:



Robert Honeyman
Title: CFO
Company: Advanced Predictive Analytics
(CFO, Advanced Predictive Analytics) |

How do you use the historical data and how much do you need in the new system? Losing the old G/L may not mean losing all the data. You probably have subsidiary systems (Excel/Access/etc.) that may well hold the heart of your historical data.

However, there are parts of your data that need to move in toto; this may include your fixed assets data and your A/R and A/P data. In those cases, it's really important to have a keen understanding of both the old data structure and the new. The information is easy enough to scare up. Ask both G/L vendors (existing and replacement) or whatever consultants you've been using for that information.

I'm guessing it's nearly universal to use Excel as the medium for moving data. One of the tasks you'll want to perform is a test transfer to ensure that you're able to upload good information and that the data winds up in the proper buckets.

I found that one of the unintended benefits of moving several years' of data was it forced a clear understanding of the new system's closing process for generating period financials.

I suspect it's nearly impossible to cut over to a new system at the start of a fiscal year. People create timelines with that goal but projects invariably slip. But this shouldn't be a problem. Make sure that you understand the new and unfamiliar closing processes forced on you by the new system and give yourself enough time to become familiar with the new methodologies and you'll be fine.

You're probably better off doing your cut-over in the first half of the year rather than the second. If you don't have that luxury, do your cut-over in the third quarter rather than the fourth. But if your timing is such that you're planning on cutting over in month 11, you may want to push things out a couple of months and avoid getting stuck mired in the certain surprises and gotchas that the new system will throw your way.

In general, you're probably better off planning for the switch at the start of a fiscal quarter. This allows you a full three months after you close your old system (with its familiar reporting processes) to start refining the closing processes for your new system.

(Agent, JKS Solutions, Inc.) |

FYI - Only Go Live or convert data in Q2 or Q3 at the latest. Never a good idea to use Q4 or Q1 to start a new system because of the Go Live issues that will stop you dead in the water. Why risk a failed year end. Focus on that for Q2 or Q3.

For large systems, no matter how well project managed, there are always some critical issues at Go Live that take some time to resolve.

Topic Expert
Dana Price
Title: Vice President, M&A
Company: McGraw Hill Education
(Vice President, M&A, McGraw Hill Education) |

Do you have to convert over the historical data? It's cheaper not to convert data and if you have adequate reporting and record keeping on the old data, it is necessary? Agree w/Valerie about Q4 if you are a CY company.

Title: Senior Treasury Consultant
Company: Kyriba Corp
(Senior Treasury Consultant, Kyriba Corp) |

I usually recommend to any of my customers and project managers (because the changeover itself is a small project) to try and run parallel for one month-end at least, before confirming the changeover. It means duplicating data and capture for some time (usually loading a bulk of data at month-start then capturing the increment on a daily or weekly basis until positions are equal).
This is really beneficial for the users as they get practically accustomed to the new system, and not only in training and tests.

I also understand your need for changeover, espcially if you were working on a SaaS system for which you'll not have past data available anymore as soon as your contract runs out. As Robert said, Excel is a usual medium and I would keep in my new GL as much information as required by my auditors and tax authorities.

Topic Expert
Patrick Dunne
Title: Chief Financial Officer
Company: Milk Source
(Chief Financial Officer, Milk Source) |

Only convert what you will need on a regular basis or is critical to your business. For example, if you are moving financial systems., we ran all checks off of the old system and mailed them as they were due rather than moving information to a new system. This is just an example of how you need to think through each transaction flow and determine what is needed.


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