Data Conversion Essentials

September 24, 2015

Written by: Michael Sischo

Data conversion is never easy. It can be a nightmare for any organization going through an implementation of a new HRIS and payroll system; however, with some preparation and analysis, this process can become a bit easier. There are some processes that can be followed to ensure reduction in errors and bad data loads.

The old adage of “garbage in, garbage out” is mentioned a lot during implementations. Unfortunately, not many people spend the time to clean up their data before data conversion. This task can be a daunting and difficult to complete. What is truly meant by that statement? Here are a few tips.

  1. Start by verifying that the data you need to convert is accurate. When you are importing employee data ensure that there are no errors. Confirm that the dates of hires and dates of birth are correct. Download your data and look for obvious discrepancies. I have seen dates of birth and hire dates reversed in systems or obviously incorrect dates of birth when the age of the employee is 10 years old. People make mistakes when they input data and those mistakes are not always corrected. Perform an analysis and look for these errors. Correct them in your legacy system before any data is converted.


  1. If you currently have an employee self-service, send out company-wide notifications for the employees to verify they have the correct data on their file. They should check their address, phone numbers, and especially their emergency contacts, dependents and beneficiaries. I often see this step missed and the employees report incorrect data after it is loaded.


  1. If you are implementing a new payroll system, you will want to make sure you are also mapping your earning and deduction codes from your legacy system to the new system. Set up working meetings to include a mapping exercise as these codes must be mapped correctly for the balances to be loaded correctly and balance.

The more preparation that is done to clean up the data that is being converted into the new system the smoother that process will be.

After you have loaded the data it is time to test and test again. You will want to go through several days of testing to verify the data loaded correctly.

  1. Develop a testing plan with test scenarios.


  1. If your implementation has payroll included, you will want to test all your codes and understand how and why they are being added to the employee record. Make sure that the deduction and earning codes are attached to the correct employees and that they are calculating correctly.


  1. Operate both systems in parallel for a few payrolls to verify and compare the two systems are in balance before going live.

To improve your chance of a successful implementation be sure that during the data conversion process you have reviewed and scrubbed your data before loading the data into the new system. Have your employees go into the system, (if able) and update their contacts, addresses, phone numbers, dependents and beneficiaries. Only bring in the data that is necessary and remove any records that are unnecessary. Go through a detailed mapping process for bringing in codes from the old to the new system if your codes are changing, and finally test the data in the new system multiple times. Adding these few tips, listed above, to your process will make your data conversion easier to work through and provide for more accurate testing.

While the above tips will help your conversion to a new system, it is by no means a comprehensive guide to everything related to data conversion. It can be a complex process and using HRchitect resources who are skilled with your software can help you manage the data conversion issues so you have a solid data conversion and solid start with your new system.

Michael Sischo

About Michael Sischo:

Michael has over 12 years of experience in the human resources field. He joined HRchitect in September 2013.  Some of his experience includes development of dynamic dashboards for HR metrics for leaders in the 5th largest healthcare organization in the country. These dashboards have been demonstrated at SHRM conferences in prior years. Michael has also given talks regarding reporting and HR metrics at a variety of conferences.