Moving to a different SIS this summer? Data Migration Basics by DDFS!

The most important component of any Student Information System is the data that it manages, which is why the decision to change systems needs to be one that is well informed and planned with as much detail as possible.  The more detailed the planning, the less risks you will face when migrating your your data.

This blog post comes to you at a time when we are helping schools manage the process of data migration to and from PowerSchool SIS to make sure that they start the 2012-13 year with everything in its right place.

Step #1:  Building a solution

For many schools, the hardest part of a data migration is taking inventory of what you have and deciding where you want it to go. It is important to start before the end of the school year to:

  • Build a timeline of data migration, making sure you have the staff present and available during the summer to move the data.
  • Seek the outside help of companies like DataDriven For Schools to fill the gaps or manage the entire process if internal resources are not available.
  • Engage the vendor of your current SIS as well as the future SIS to see if either of these companies might have data migration tools that make moving data easier.
  • Request that a testing/sandbox server is available from the future SIS company in order to perform testing.
  • Work internally to prioritize data by deciding what is important, what is nice to have and what is not needed.

By completing the above bullet points, you are well on your way to building a Solution Document, which will provide a blueprint of all of the details of the data migration to the parties involved.  Before any work is started, the Solution Document should be thoroughly reviewed and discussed by all of the individuals working with the data.

Step #2:  Finalize the previous school year

Before moving data, all previous year data needs to be finalized.  This can include:

  • Grades and transcripts
  • Attendance
  • State reporting (Example: CALPADS EOY 1-4 for California)
  • Run the end of year process for your completed year

See the blog post here for more details!

Step #3:  The data freeze

Moving data while using a system is a bit like changing cars, you don’t want to do it without stopping both cars first!  In order to do it safely, both systems need a period where they can be stopped together in order for the data to change from one to the other.  Because of this we tell everyone that the data is “frozen” and they are only allowed to read but not write data to either system.  The summer is a particularly good time to do a data migration because the data freeze can last up to a month in some circumstances.

Step #4:  Starting the new system

After the data is successfully migrated into the new system according to the Solution Document, you can begin using your new system!  It is a very good idea to make backups of the previous system in order to reference old data if you realize several months later that something was not migrated or migrated as expected.  The likelihood of this is high when learning a new system, so it is extra important to make sure the backups are made in a way that it is easy to extract the information you need.

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