De-Risking IT System Migrations Allows You to Expand Your Business Further

By Ruediger Neubauer

Are you looking to expand your business domestically, or even internationally, but you are struggling because your IT System does not support it?

How to de-risk such a system migration using a proven methodology that supports migration away from legacy technology onto a more modern, secure solution that is designed for efficient domestic or international operations.

An increasing number of Energy Retailers want to expand domestically or internationally. But expansion is a challenge when your current vendor is holding you back and does not support those plans. Retailers are faced with either adding another system that supports those specific markets or migrating to a single vendor with broad international support.

If the thought of system migration gives you pause, you aren’t alone.  We’ve all seen bad migrations happen in this industry.

A proven migration strategy considers the three major domains touched during a system replacement:

  • Application Alignment. This is what comes to mind most often when you think of migrations. It’s the act of mapping your current system processes, functions and features to the new system. It is important to make sure there is no loss of functionality and that the configurations, security rules and reports that you use today are all available to your users after the migration. This also includes the migration of core customer data, which are processed and validate through over hundred rules to make sure it aligns exactly with the expectations of the new system.
  • Business Process Evaluation and Enhancement.  Many of your daily operations routines are likely designed to compensate for shortcomings of your current system.  A business process evaluation looks at those daily activities and their root purpose.  Quite often a broad number of those processes that are identified can easily be automated inside the new system or that be streamlined through cross-team escalation rules and processes. The end result is a team that can operate more efficiently and is now able to handle the customer growth you hope to achieve in the new system.
  • Storage Migration is the final but crucial step that lets you say goodbye to your old platform forever. This step allows you to move historical customer artifacts from your system today into new system.  There is no need to keep an old copy of your system just to see past invoices, letters, contracts, TPV recordings or other items.

The migration strategy may be reevaluated or redefined following test migrations and parallel processing activities.

When it’s time to make the system switch live in the market place, most retailers choose between two strategies, Big Bang or a Trickle Migration.

Regardless of which migration approach is selected, it is critical to perform Parallel Processing prior to migration weekend.

What is parallel processing? Simply put, it is the insurance policy your team needs to feel confident prior to cutover. During this time the new system will process all your market files in the UA environment in parallel with your current billing provider.  Your team has the opportunity to approve invoices and compare financials at the client, utility or market level between the new system and your current system of record.  At this time it is important to make sure all downstream system integrations, particularly those to your other key vendors or your internal systems used in sales, finance, and reporting are also working ask expected.  Ultimately this is the most comprehensive testing available and allows to identify any hidden risks of migration. It also means your business users have absolute confidence and real experience in the new system before it takes over as your production system.

How does parallel processing work? After your migrated data is available in the new system’s User Acceptance Environment the new provider will process your original market files (x12 and flat files) through ADM and EOS. All inbound transactions are validated. This includes also 820 Payment transactions, invoices, inbound requests, response transactions and more. If gaps are found these can be quickly triaged and addressed, often testing the correction the very next day.

These parallel processing activities are performed prior to cut- over until and repeated until both the new system provider and the retailer are confident that the quality and results are ready for production deployment.

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Ruediger Neubauer is the Chief Sales Officer of Znalytics, LLC.