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Enterprise Veterinary Data Migration Services

By Jonathan Holloway

MWI has extensive experience of delivering data migration solutions to a wide variety of customers and organisations, across the whole of the UK and the Republic of Ireland.

Over the last 24 months we have been supporting our corporate and private customers with data migration from legacy practice management systems (PMS) to our Enterprise products.  Merlin is our enterprise cloud based PMS that provides a range of functionality, centralised product, pricing, ordering capability and clinical treatment support.

Our data migration team has been integral to this process providing critical data analysis, cleaning, migration and governance.  They are tightly involved in the customer migration lifecycle with our implementation consultants and IT field engineers.

There are four parts to the process :

● Pre-migration data collection, analysis and planning;
● Review of the data to identify any exceptions which require customer involvement prior to go-live;
● Streamlined and semi-automated merge-to-live process;
● Hypercare support post go-live and long-term on-going support for the practice.

Customer first

Regardless of size, scale and location of the practice, every customer follows a standardised data migration service. Although we have worked hard over the last few years to refine our processes and we have a standard approach to migrations generally, we recognise that no two existing data sources are identical. By recognising this, we acknowledge that the data is your data, and that it is critical to the successful operation and delivery of your business strategy. Right from day one, our data team work with you, to ensure your data and its compositional make up, is fully understood.  We use our Enterprise migration suite, which has been built and refined over many years, to support the migration process. We utilise integration services, a set of pipelines and scripts in this process. This ensures that the final migration is as accurate as possible with minimal human intervention.  Your involvement in this process is paramount from a quality and data perspective.

Pre-migration planning and analysis

We work with you and/or with your current Practice Management System provider to establish a robust, reliable and compliant method of data handling with data security and GDPR compliance integral to the whole process.
Our team of Data Migration Specialists have 10+ years experience of working with data from all the major practice management software (PMS) providers. We have migration packages pre-developed for most providers. This includes 20+ systems such as:

● Covetrus Robovet and RX Works;
● IDEXX ezyVet;
● Provetcloud
● Teleos;
● Datavet;
● Vetscope;
● etc...

We have the ability to migrate non-PMS held data held in a variety of formats. Whatever your current data situation, you can be reassured that we’ll have seen it before.  If not, we develop well-established Microsoft SQL Server Integration Services packages to meet the needs. Where needed, we develop one-off SQL Server scripts to handle more complex scenarios, involving you in the process from a consultation point of view. Either way, our Data Migration Specialist (DMS) team understand the need for precision and care and take pride in their adaptability.

Any data which is to be migrated, is handled and processed in an environment separate to the production PMS system. This ensures integrity and quality is built into the migration process to eliminate security issues, viruses and malware being migrated as part of the process.

We also ensure any data changes are carefully analysed and processed prior to the production migration step. By adhering to this practice, exceptions and anomalies can be spotted early and we can identify problems ahead of time. These problems may be as simple as new codes  required, or as complex as a bespoke method for recording insurance details. 

Once you are happy that the data is ready, we agree a time and date that meets with your operational needs for the production migration. After this, you are able to log in and verify data accuracy whilst becoming familiar with the Merlin PMS. This is another opportunity to identify potential issues or questions and work together to resolve or prevent them.

Integration Preparation

Migrating data is just one part of the process. Setting up secondary systems to ensure the smooth transfer of services also needs to be evaluated and set up. This is critical to ensure that your customers see no service disruption as a consequence of the migration. Our data migration specialists work with you and your team to understand the third-party systems your current PMS solution links to, in order to identify the steps necessary to set up the appropriate interfaces for a smooth migration.

Typically, these third-party systems include:

  • Setup of an SMS service
  • Preparing the transfer of microchip details;
  • Document storage;

Or more specific customisations to niche systems to meet specific operational activities based on your feedback and our ongoing discussions. If required, we are able to create specific UAT environments populated with obfuscated data to enable you to verify that the functionality is as required, prior to migration to Merlin. Whatever it takes, we’ll be working with you and your team towards the single goal of a painless and smooth data migration and go-live transition.  

Live migration

Working towards the live migration is a highly collaborative activity between your team and our Data Migration Specialists. Specifically, the timing and sequence of events need to be fully evaluated and planned in advance to ensure your practice is able to keep working whilst the migration activities are underway.

Critical to this, is the need to confirm your practice has the necessary support services in place to ensure the operational activities are not compromised during the process of migration to Merlin. This means defining when the practices’ staff stop working with the existing software so that a point-in-time copy of the source data can be taken for the migration. After this, the old system can be brought back online in a read-only capacity to enable the practice to access and refer to any historical information. 

Live migration process infographic

Irrespective of which system the source data is obtained from, we have a standard process which our data migration specialists follow. Throughout the whole process, we work with your team to ensure the verification and validation checks are undertaken, such that at the end of the migration, assurances can be provided that the migrated data is representative of the format of the source data.

Once all is in place and the system is ready for use, you are invited to complete another check. If all is well you let us know that you are happy to sign off the migration as complete, however in the case that there are unforeseen issues, the team will work together with you to ensure that all is up and running as quickly as possible. 

If, as part of your data migration, you also perform any hardware upgrade activities, our engineers will also work with your nominated IT hardware team to ensure all components of the move come together at the right times. 

Hyper-care and support

After migration, we are available to support, guide and resolve any issues which are affecting your business’s operation. Typically, our customers find that the provision of a hyper-care service, initially for a one to two week period, supports them in their transition from their old PMS system to Merlin. This service is provided as standard. 

We ensure that any issues with your data are handled directly by our team. As always, this is managed in consultation with you, ensuring that you know what is happening at every step of the process.

Following the period of hyper-care, our service desk team will take over to manage the ongoing process with escalation to the data migration team where required. 

About The Author

Jonathan Holloway
Customer Solutions Director
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