How do I move my data from my old system into

Simple answer – you need to make just three key decisions and a plan…

Begin with the end (date) in mind…

At some point (date) you’re going to switch off your old system(s) and hopefully you’ve got a date in mind for going ‘live’ with your new system. For the purposes of clarity and logic I’m going to refer to the ‘live’ date as the start date. As well as explaining to you how to decide these dates, I’m going to share with you some thoughts you will need to have about the vast amount of historical data you’ve accumulated, it’s usefulness and the pros and cons of leaving it where it is. So don’t skim read this, as all of the decisions I walk you through here are inextricably linked.


1. The end date decision

Let’s do the hard bit first, I will get to Customer, Supplier and Product records etc in a moment. Accounting is seen by many of us as a dark art. You’ve probably heard the line “An accountant is someone who solves a problem you never knew you had in a way you will never understand!” Accounting is fundamentally about dates and numbers. Numbers come from transactions and dates are driven by events, such as month, quarter, year end, the needs of the shareholders and demands of the regulators.

To simplify your end date decision you just need to choose the end of a month. Deciding which month depends upon your circumstances…

If you’re approaching the end of your financial year, then this is arguably the best time to move, as your previous year accounts are going to be closed, so you probably wont be entering any new transactions into your old system, your accountant will have helped you* decide which transactions carry over or stay behind in the ‘books’ and you will have Opening Balances to ‘Open’ your accounts in your new financial year. *Basically you are deciding what profits, revenue, etc you’re going to state in your accounts and what taxes you’re going to pay…

From an accounting perspective, you have a starting point consisting of two types of information, the Opening Balances of your new P&L (Profit and Loss) and Balance Sheet accounts, and a list of posting and non posting transactions to be entered into the Chart of Accounts in your new system. This is exactly what you are aiming for regardless of what end date you choose.

If you decide to do this on a month or quarter end, that doesn’t coincide with the end of a financial year, don’t be put off, the process and the objective are very similar. You just need to work with your accountant to decide the end date and subsequently the transactions that carry over and stay behind. From this exercise you can determine the ‘Opening Balances’. Remember the objective is to determine a list of transactions to be ‘closed down’ or run their natural course, and a list of Opening Balances to be entered into your Chart of Accounts. At this point, don’t get swayed by the ‘what happens if my financial year is in two systems argument’. This is easily solved by outputting the financial reports you need from both systems and merging then using our dear friend the spreadsheet.

2. The start date decision

From and accounting perspective, it logically follows the start date and the end date should be back to back as you don’t want any ambiguity or transactions falling down the cracks. There you go that was easy wasn’t it.

I’ve heard people say they are going run systems in parallel, this statement is open to (mis)interpretation – do they mean entering the same data into both systems or do they mean they are cognisant of the overlap? Be careful if you get this advice, how you interpret could create you extra work as the former exercise has no value whatsoever.

Whilst you’ve already made the end date decision, you can’t actually carry over or enter the transactions or Opening Balances into your new system until you’ve decided upon the start date and completed the exercise below.

Preceding the start date you’ll want import the following information:

– The Chart of Accounts
– The Items (Products and Services)
– The Customers and Contacts
– The Suppliers and Contacts
– The Workers

These are the fundamentals, but you also might want to import:

– Leads
– Prospects
– Base Price List (If you are using Customer specific pricing or price levels)

The above exercise is explained in the order it should be undertaken, in great detail, in the these really useful and short videos. Skip these at your peril…..

3. The historical information decision

historical-dataI’ll keep it very simple….

Except for the purposes of period performance comparisons, answer truthfully how often you have referred back to historical accounting data. I mean who bought or sold what, when did they buy or sell, how much money did they spend? If you do this on a regular basis then you’ll probably be familiar with the terms, RFM (Recency, Frequency, Monetary value) or CLV (Customer Lifetime Value) and you might be working in the mail order business or a similar industry, where you are dealing with large volumes of sales and probably spend a sizeable amount on direct marketing.

Or it could be that you are just looking for upgrade, upsell or cross sell opportunities. If you are doing any of this then you need to carefully consider how much these opportunities might be worth. I mean exporting all of your old data from your current system, cleaning it up and reformatting it for import into your new system, not to mention having to customise your new system to be able to absorb and display the data i.e adding new fields etc, is going to cost money and the amount you will need to spend will increase exponentially with the volume of historical data you want to ‘reuse’.

Don’t worry it can be done using scripts and import templates, it just takes time and cash. Like I said – “What’s it worth?”.

If you do decide you need it, then you are of course talking about accounting transactions, and you’ll want to be extra careful how you handle these once you have them imported into the new system. You’ll need to design into your working practices that no-one can alter these. Don’t worry the closed accounts function will act as an impediment to the careless user, but that’s all it is.

Getting historical transaction data imported is going to require some help from us, as you need automation to cope with large volumes of data and because of customisation every situation can be different. We are working on tools and resources to do more of this, from any type of system. Just get in touch if you want to know more.

4. The Plan

You can now see you need a plan. Good plan’s have checks throughout their lifespan, this is particularly true of any system migration project. When migrating data you need to check you are getting the right level of detail out – I mean not too much and not too little, and of course you need to start your import activities by just importing a couple of records, just to make sure, what you get is what you expected.

Sequence is important, that is you need your Chart of Accounts imported and checked before you, import your Items and of course you need to set up your Currencies before you import your Chart of Accounts. Of course Currencies also precede Customer and Suppliers, and Tax Codes precede Items. Why am I wandering here? The point is it’s really easy to avoid thinking through a plan, what I should have written was, do your set ups and imports in this order.

– Currencies
– Chart of Accounts
– Tax Codes
– Items
– Workers
– Customers
– Suppliers
– Contacts

See what I mean?

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