Breaking up is hard to do as they say, and that’s true for when enterprises break-up too. Sure maybe lawyers don’t drive-by slowly blaring their favorite break-up tune then speed off loudly when they catch a glimpse of their defendants. But make no mistake, B2B break-ups can be no less ugly, especially if you haven’t prepared before signing that contract.
Business break-ups are becoming more frequent. As recently as, 10 years ago a business might switch HR vendors every 7 years, and now it’s closer to 3.5 years. Problem is you need to get your data out of your existing system and into your new one. Having a strategy for how that is going to happen, and being prepared to make that move will set you up for success.
How you prepare for your departure depends a lot on the specific vendor you are leaving. Some cloud vendors will provide you a divestiture package when you leave. Others cloud vendors won’t give you anything and tell you to export the data yourself from the system. On-premise software vendors means you have more control over the migration process, but getting the data out of the system is up to you. So understanding what you expect to get from your vendor is a bid deal because you will have to prepare differently.
The Divestiture Package
Divestiture packages are better because it is a standard format to export, and systems like FuseHR can import those formats easily. However, not all things are as rosy as they might appear. For one, divestiture packages may not contain everything from the original system. One customer had left a vendor and gotten the standard divestiture, but they were using a feature from that vendor that the data from that feature was not included in the divestiture package. When we realized this it was too late to go back to the vendor and get that data. However, the client had negotiated an export of the full database when they terminated so we are able to find that data after all.
Be prepared to pay money to receive the divestiture package. Some vendors charge money to receive your data. And as a second rule be prepared to negotiate on what data is included in that export. As in the story above the client negotiated the full data export so be prepared to ask for things they company may not offer up front. You may want to negotiate receiving a portion of the data so you can verify that is has everything you need. That validation process can be very challenging so having someone who knows what to look for can really speed that process up.
Getting your divestiture package before you leave let’s you do two things. One it let’s you plan if you need to negotiate for additional data, and two, it let’s you see how well the vendor will communicate what the data means. The good vendors will give you not only a divestiture package, but they provide documentation about what is contained within each file. If you get this information then you can be reasonably certain you can have a clean break-up.
DIY Export Package
Some vendors force you to create your own divestiture package using their tools they provide. On-premise software works this way as well. This can be harder on you up front because you won’t know everything you that is offered, and what might not be there. It’s also much more technical and there are a lot of technical decisions to make when going this route. It’s hard to prepare you for all of the data that could be in these systems so I’ll talk in broad categories. In general you’ll need:
- Employment history
- Organizational structure
- Payroll – pay codes, cost centers, paycheck details, etc.
- Time Data – hours, time cards, etc.
- Benefits – Beneficiaries, benefit plans, etc.
- Applicants and Job Openings
Not every system has all of these categories in it so familiarize yourself about what data your system contains.
These are broad categories of data and the specifics within these categories are numerous and too long to exhaustively list in general. It’s important to keep in mind that employment history means not just your current employees, but the history of those and past employees. For example, a current employment might be full time now, but in the past they were a contractor or part time. You want to maintain that historical data about your employees so you want to engage with your vendor to make sure they will give you that historical data. Often people typically think if they only have the top of stack records then they are done, but you are loosing data by only getting the top of stack. If you find yourself paralyzed by the prospect of handling this export yourself seriously consider engaging a migration professional to help you navigate this data.
Some vendors in this category will not be helpful once they find out you are exiting their system. Once you’ve notified them of termination you might all of a sudden find a helpful sales person mysteriously unresponsive. So it’s important to start gathering the data prior to officially quitting, and since these vendors have provided self service tools you can do that at any point prior to leaving.
When executing your migration your new system won’t be available on the first day. It can take 3-6 months to move your data between the systems. You need to complete your migration before your ready to go live which means you’ll be in a period where the old system is still being used and data is changing. If you officially quit your current vendor before your migration is done, then you may have to file for extensions should your migration effort runs over. It’s best to start migrating before you officially quit so you don’t have to negotiate for more time. That gives you to most flexibility to respond to delays, and unknowns that may come up during your migration.
Particularly the self service vendors it is common for clients to request extensions to retrieve all of the data before they leave. Some vendors will give you an extension or two, but not indefinitely. This is a sales’ pressure technique to keep you a customer hoping you will capitulate and stay or fear loosing your data. It’s best to keep them on your side while you migrate.
Most clients are fixated on turning on their new system over all other concerns, and the historical data will be dealt with after they’ve delivered the new system. However, this may not be the most efficient route. Migrating up front gives you the time to gather all of the data into another system, then migration vendors like Fuse HR can create the import package for your next system automatically. This means you migrate once, and moving to the next system is automated for you. Archiving first means you can take the time to get all of your data backed up, verified before you execute your leave, and it minimizes the dual system changes during that period of migration. As more and more people transition between cloud vendors this option will become more important than in the past.
This is a complex subject, and you will need someone who understands your source system at a very technical level to assist in this move. If you have that talent in house you may be able to do this on your own, but if you don’t have that talent or uninterested in dedicating your resources to that effort consider reaching out to experienced professionals to help. And finding a vendor who has automated some of these migrations can save you dramatic time in executing your migration.