THOUGHT LEADERSHIP, UPDATES, WHITE PAPERS & BUSINESS RESOURCES
Managing real estate data has never been more important, particularly in light of the looming FASB lease accounting changes. As highlighted by Lisa Stanley, the active management of real estate data “…starts with a constructive collaboration between owner/occupiers, service providers, software developers, and others to identify needs and build a plan. Information management systems have often been cobbled together, with multiple platforms that don’t communicate and lack of consistency in data terms and definitions.”
This is the situation that many retailers find themselves in; working with disparate systems, or off of Excel spreadsheets, they are now scrambling to make sure they are tracking the right data to ensure compliance to the new regulations and to make insightful and timely business decisions.
In recent months, we have worked with many retail clients in implementing Integrated Workplace Management Systems IWMS/ Store Lifecycle Management (SLM) solutions with a focus on migrating data from existing systems. These companies want to get a handle on the critical elements of data that they need to bring into their IWMS / SLM Solution to ensure they are meeting new requirements from regulators as well as internal business areas. Whether it’s upgrading existing solutions or implementing new ones, the time to thoroughly analyze existing data and processes and determine where and how processes need changing is now.
The Data Challenge
The challenge for many retailers is that they are simply not ready for implementing IWMS/ SLM solutions, and the time and resources required to clean up their data in order to transition to the new system has been grossly underestimated. In addition, the skillset required to extract, analyze, and transform the existing data to fit the new system does not exist in-house.
The first step for any retailer is to determine what data they actually need going forward to support the business. Once a complete list of required information is established, they need to identify issues with existing data, including determining what is missing, incorrect, or irrelevant, and how that data is currently managed and which business area owns it.
Very often, the required data is not being tracked and the affected departments also lack the rigour to collect and maintain the data. In fact, in some cases the owner of the data is unknown, and it’s not clear who is actually using it – or where and how it’s being used (i.e. is this data used in an integration to another system or third party? Is this information necessary for specific functions? Etc.) The departments work in information silos and data may be held across various systems or spreadsheets, with very few controls to ensure their veracity. There is often no easy way to access the data and requests for updates may result in lengthy delays. This means data needs to be first sourced – in some cases from the original lease agreement – then get abstracted and then loaded into the new system.
Our clients are also challenged by resource constraints. IT departments are challenged with split responsibilities, and often do not have staff dedicated to the initiative. In some cases, the more experienced staff are no longer with the organization, and now they no longer have the resources in-house that are required to extract data from their existing system(s). Their team lacks the know how to get the data out and then transform it to work in the future state system they require.
Overcoming the Challenge
While it’s important to understand the technical side of data migration, the analysis piece is often missing in the process. It’s important to step back and take the time to understand your requirements: identify the types of data you want to bring over from existing solutions or other sources such as documents, and determine how much and what data elements you are going to bring over.
As part of Tango’s approach we begin the initiative by building the data migration strategy and identifying the guiding principles:
- Identify what data is needed (sources, types, etc.)
- How much transactional history is needed in the new system
- The priority for each piece of data with respect to business operations
- Areas of data that need cleanup
- Missing data
- Responsibilities of each team/ role
- High level plan (technical strategy and steps)
- Test/ Validation criteria
- Strategy for retiring existing systems
The data migration strategy then feeds into a detailed plan (tactical) for execution and ties into the overall project plan.
One thing to keep in mind: when working with the business on data requirements, use cross-functional teams so that all implications are known: i.e. if we remove this data, who is impacted? If we add a new data element, who manages it?
And while it may seem more cost effective to rely solely on your internal staff, oftentimes they require external support during the process. This increases both the time and cost to complete the project if you wait too long. When planning an implementation consider working with a partner who has worked across all IWMS/SLM systems and lease administration solutions and thoroughly understands the nuances of each. With the new FASB regulations around the corner, there is no time like the present to get started.
If you would like to learn more, download Tango’s Making Store Lifecycle Management Strategic white paper below.