Migrating HR Data: The Challenges

Total Compensation

Migrating HR Data: The Challenges

Written by: Sanjeev Singla – Software Development Lead, HRsoft

I recently had the opportunity to manage a data migration project for a new customer who chose one of our many talent management solutions. Although there is lot of knowledge base and technical “how to” articles that exists on the Internet, I wanted to share my professional experience as a Software Development Lead and what worked best for us in this real world scenario, along with the major challenges presented throughout the project. In this two part series, I will first explain the common challenges that arise with a complex data migration project such as this.

The Challenges:

As an HR software solution provider, there are many factors to take into account before importing new customer data into our cloud-based HR software from their existing system. While the challenges vary by the customer, I have found these to be the most common ones that exist for any such project.

  1. No support from the previous vendor

When our new customer ended the contract with their last HR vendor, the vendor agreed to provide all the data belonging to customer, but there was no support to help understand the data model, dictionary, relationships and other elements. All of the data was supplied in the form of CSV files. There were no relationships, constraints or mapping rules that were imported to help the customer or new solution provider understand the data model.

  1. Data Mapping requirements

While it was up to my team to understand the actual data model that we needed to migrate; there were additional challenges that also arose. Our professional services team members can understand new data up to a certain extent, but they needed assistance mapping the data over to our talent management software and underlying objects to draw in any meaningful inferences and validate the correctness of data being mapped.

  1. Tight Timelines

Like any other IT project, we had tight timelines to complete various phases of the project – starting from understanding the data model, to the customer UAT and finally going live with the new system. The customer had to end the contract with their old vendor by a certain date and hence lost access to the old system, which put us under a strict deadline.

  1. Size of data to be migrated

The customer had been using the previous HR software for a few years and had a substantial amount of data that needed to be migrated. This posed additional challenges in terms of moving the data and staging environments to test, making the entire process very slow.

  1. Not only data, but documents too

We not only had to migrate data from a foreign system to ours, but our new customer also needed to move documents in various areas of the talent management application. This complicated the entire process as the attachments have to be physically copied and attached to the records after the migration of this necessary data.

  1. Change Requests

While our professional services teams were constantly engaged with our customer for feedback in a test environment, the customer needed to change some of the data element requirements around what they did and did not need. As you can imagine, change requests that come late in the cycle can severely impact the project timelines.

Although there were many challenges that were presented throughout this migration project, our team successfully brought the customers new system live within the agreed timelines. In the second part of this series, (Migrating HR Data: Best Practices), I will share the best practices that our team used to smoothly implement this new talent management system.


HRsoft is a leading provider of strategic talent management software that improves manager effectiveness and business results. Our full suite of cloud-based HR software solutions includes applicant tracking software, compensation planning software, total rewards software, stay interview software, performance management software, and content management software. To learn more about our Talent Management Software,  click the button below!

Learn More Button