5 key questions to ask your library system provider to ensure a hassle-free library data migration

Considering switching library systems? Perhaps your organisation is migrating to a cloud infrastructure and you need to do the same. Maybe you realise your current software is no longer fit for purpose and you need a system that’s going to perform well for you now and in the future.

Whatever the reason for the change, migrating to a new library system can feel like a step into the dark. You need assurance that the conversion will be as pain-free as possible. You certainly don’t have time to key in lots of data, sort out a mess if it gets muddled up, and your users can’t cope with an extended period of downtime.

Even if you’re a seasoned information specialist, the tech changes so fast that the issues are likely to be very different to the last time you thought about a change.

We’ve helped over 1000 clients to switch library systems over the last 30+ years. In fact, 40% of top 200 law firms use our software, and we are extremely proud of our 99% retention rate. So, we know the challenges you face as you contemplate changing systems and the potential problems that might come up. 

To help you, we’ve compiled 5 key questions to ask library software suppliers about the library data migration process so you can assess if their system is the right one for you.

Obviously, we’d love you to choose KnowAll Matrix, but these questions can be applied to any vendor.

Here’s what you need to know.

What does the process for library data migration look like?

A typical data conversion will be split into three phases: the quote and feasibility report, pilot phase, and live phase.

Different companies will operate their own processes. To give you a point of reference, this is how we break the phases down.

1. Quote and feasibility report

  • You send a sample file or files of your data.
  • We respond with a feasibility report and a maximum price quote with no obligation.
  1. Pilot phase
  • You send us your data.
  • You carry on working in your old system.
  • We compile a data dictionary: matching every field in your old system to a field in KnowAll Matrix. This is also done in consultation with the client
  • We write your data conversion program and run it over your data.
  • We carry out quality control checks.
  • We deliver your data in your KnowAll Matrix system.
  • You review and report back anything that needs to be changed.
  1. Live phase
  • Immediately prior to the agreed delivery date, you send us your live data and we run your individual library data conversion program.
  • We give you access.
  • You are now up and running with your live data in your KnowAll Matrix library management system.

What am I responsible for in the library data migration process?

However experienced you are with library systems, it’s essential you have expertise and support from the software company especially during the conversion process. 

Ask the supplier who’ll be your main point of contact. For KnowAll Matrix the project is overseen by a library consultant who can offer the specific support you need. 

Be sure to ask specifically what they require from you – there may be the option to ask for additional help if you need it. 

When we ask for your data during the pilot phase, for example, you have the choice to manage this yourself, or to grant us access so we can extract the data on your behalf. 

Similarly, after the pilot phase, we offer a free online session to guide you through the checking process to ensure the transfer of the live data for the launch will be as smooth as possible.

How can I be sure my library data won’t get muddled up?

There would be nothing worse than launching a shiny new library system and realising the data is so muddled up and therefore it needs a lot of work to make it usable. 

This should not happen. Make sure to ask the library supplier exactly how they manage your data during the conversion process. 

We list all the data fields in your old system and map each one to the correct field in your new library system. Plus, our programmer writes a bespoke data conversion program to meet the needs of your specific data and ensure it can be imported accurately.  We would consult you about any fields that don’t match and can create a custom field or rename a field to accommodate them. 

We perform quality control checks before we deliver the data to you. 

After the pilot phase you have the opportunity to check the data and request any changes necessary. We only import your live data once you’re happy.

What if some of the library data in my current system is poor quality?

Sometimes clients worry that the data in their system is poor or unreliable. Perhaps the system has been managed by different people over the years and has not been added consistently. Perhaps missing or lost items or changes in e-resource subscriptions haven’t been kept up-to-date.

There are circumstances where transferring all your current data wouldn’t give you a desirable result. What are your options?

It might be that the data just needs tidying up. We often encounter problems such as variant spelling, inconsistent date formats, and duplicate records and can recommend straightforward fixes most of the time.  

In rare cases, the data quality is so poor that the client chooses to key in data from a certain date forward. If this happens, your library system vendor should be able to offer recommendations for the most effective process. 

Many clients take the opportunity to tidy up their data while they make the switch. For instance, if you decide not to bring in titles published before a certain date we can save you time by adding a line of code to do this for you. 

Remember, your new vendor can often help you clean up your data. 

How can I continue to operate during the library data migration process? How long does it take? How much downtime is there?

While it would be lovely to have the luxury of closing access to the library system while you make the switch, we recognise that you still have a job to do and your library users need continued access to their resources.

Make sure to check with the software supplier exactly how much system downtime they expect. 

During our migration process, you continue to operate as normal through the planning and pilot phases. The only downtime is a short window when we do the import from your live system. This import is fast because we use a data conversion program that has been written for you specifically to meet the needs of your data. You will also have been guided through the checking process to make the live import as smooth as possible. 

As a point of reference, for KnowAll Matrix the downtime is maybe less than a day or could take up to 2 days. The whole project make take about 4 weeks or longer depending on your availability.

These are the top 5 questions clients ask us about the conversion process. If you have any other questions reach out. We’re happy to help. 

KnowAll Matrix is a fully integrated cloud library management system that will help you effortlessly manage and access your print and digital resources. Try our 30 day free-trial to experience our library software and realise the benefits. Are you considering switching library systems?

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