Apricot Data Migration: Pros, Cons, and Options to Consider
Social Solutions Apricot™ software is a powerful database system, so naturally we want to populate Apricot with as much data as we can. But hastily importing data into Apricot without carefully reviewing the pros, cons, and options associated with data migration could negatively impact the health and quality of your database.
Before you import a row of data into Apricot software, review your options. The more you know about data migration up front, the better equipped you will be to make decisions that ensure the integrity of your Apricot database.
Pros and cons of data migration
The first question to answer is whether or not you should complete a data migration project in the first place. There are a multitude of benefits associated with data migration, but there are also costs. The decision to complete a data migration project is rarely black and white. The decision will be nuanced, so let’s review the benefits (pros) and costs (cons) associated with Apricot data migration to determine if data migration is the “right” path for you.
Data migration will allow you to…
- Run reports using complete data sets. Migrating data into Apricot normalizes your data into a common format. Old data will be formatted to your new structure so your historical and current data are a homogeneous set. Without data migration, you may be required to report on the two data sets separately using split reporting.
- View records and links in the Tier 1 record search, document folder, and record edit screens. Without any data, many of the Apricot screens are blank. Your Apricot database will come alive following data migration, offering search, navigation, and edit functions for the newly populated data sets.
- Provide relevant data sets so end users can start using Apricot fully after data migration. Migrating data to Apricot helps end users and administrators learn Apricot quicker. When Apricot is populated with your organization’s data, the database becomes immediately recognizable and relevant to your users. Historical data can then be used to contextualize the data structure in Apricot, making it easier for users to adopt Apricot.
2. Costs (and risks)
Data migration is a complex and technical process. Apricot database migration projects should be completed by capable Apricot database administrators and with a clear commitment to the objectives of the project. For many organizations, this means hiring an Apricot consultant for the heavy lifting and investing internal staff time to the project (whether an Apricot consultant is involved or not).
Data quality is an important factor to consider as well. The risk of migrating poor data quality from another data source is high, especially if data quality is a concern in the source data set.
3. Assessing the cost-to-benefit ratio
The ratio between the costs and benefits of migrating your data will inform how to approach a data migration project.
If the costs outweigh the benefits, a data migration may not be in your organization’s best interests; but if the benefits outweigh the costs, a data migration may be an appropriate strategic decision.
The ratio between costs and benefits may also require adjustments to:
- What data is migrated
- How much data is migrated (i.e. the quantity)
- How that data is migrated (i.e. the process)
- When data is migrated (i.e. the timing)
If the costs outweigh the benefits, consider scaling back the scope of your data migration project to bring the costs and benefits back into balance.
Apricot Data Migration Options
Moving “all data” is the common assumption when planning for a data migration project, but moving all of your data isn’t always the best option. Your needs for data migration may call for a different approach.
Instead of migrating data, you have the option to archive historical data.
Archiving data takes your historical data and puts it in an accessible format like Excel, Access, or another database software. You may even choose to archive the data in Apricot, whether the data originated in Apricot or whether you plan to migrate the data to Apricot before archiving it.
When you archive historical data, you can move on from your old data knowing that it is available should you ever need it. Archiving data is a good option if you don’t need frequent access to historical data and the cost to migrate the historical data into Apricot is high.
Split reporting is the primary drawback of this approach. Split reporting is a product of maintaining data in two or more data sets in two or more separate data structures.
Pro Tip: Deactivated fields and forms are inaccessible in Apricot reports. If reporting on archived data in Apricot is a priority, mark forms and fields as “Archive” or “Disabled” and lock them to prevent future edits, instead of deactivating them completely. This will allow reporting on both archived data and live data, while also making it easy to differentiate between the archived and live data sets.
2. Migrate "all"
This is the most appealing option from the standpoint that all data, historical and new, is formatted the same way and is consistent and clean in Apricot, but this option is the least appealing in terms of cost, time, and effort to complete.
We recommend an intentional approach when considering an “all in” approach to Apricot data migration. Construct a business case that evaluates the viability of data migration before green-lighting an “all in” data migration.
3. Migrate "some"
Migrating some data is generally a better option than migrating all data. Migrating some data assumes that your organization is assessing the strategic value of your data and taking an intentional approach to Apricot database management.
It assumes you are asking questions like…
- What data is relevant for reporting?
- What data is relevant for navigation, record search, and document folder reviews?
- How will end users or managers use this data day to day?
Migrating some of your organization’s data also implies that you will be using a combination of other data migration strategies. For example, you may choose to migrate some elements of your data set, archive others, and move on from those that contribute no value.
Most organizations choose to archive data before purging data forever, but purging is a viable strategy when historical data has no value to your organization. This can happen if your organization changes its program design, outcomes, goals, or simply cancels a program or service you offer. This can also happen if you are migrating from database software that you will no longer maintain a license for.
Purging data may also be a viable option if archiving the data violates privacy policies or data regulations. Compliance may dictate that the data be purged and forgotten.
Purging data is an option only if you don’t need the data anymore. Be certain this is the case before moving forward.
Consider a combination of data migration options
These data migration options are rarely exclusive of each other. Most data migrations employ a combination of strategies.
While you are planning for a data migration, consider all options and weigh the pros and cons of each. A well-designed and systematic process that evaluates the benefits and drawbacks of a data migration project will guarantee that your Social Solutions Apricot data migration is a success. Proper planning will lead to a successful data migration that minimizes the time, cost, and effort required to migrate your data.
Let us do the heavy lifting of your Apricot database migration. Schedule a free consultation to review your project with our Apricot consultants.