Data Conversion Outsourcing
Data conversion outsourcing is simply the process of using a third party provider or consultant to perform data conversion. During this type of operation the consultant or outsourcing vendor will use some form of data conversion software to translate company documents or data from one set to another. While this type of service can be very broad and cover a lot of different applications, for this discussion we will focus on data conversion outsourcing as it relates to integrating multiple systems. In this case the data conversion outsourcing service is tasked with creating a system that will allow documents of one type (from one system) to be re-formatted and sent to a secondary system. One of the classic cases of data conversion outsourcing is the translation of EDI documents into a more acceptable format - like XML and vice versa.
Planning, The First Step to Data Conversion Outsourcing
While it may seem counter-intuitive, the very first step to a successful data conversion outsourcing project is to plan internally your needs. More precisely, for a data conversion outsourcing project to succeed, your vendor is going to have to have a number of pieces of information that you will need to gather in advance. For example, your data conversion outsourcing vendor will want to have access to a 'domain expert' who can answer their questions about the source and target systems and the file types that each system supports. In addition, you will need to plan how the data conversion outsourcing project will impact your organization, taking into account the manpower that will be needed to support the project as well as the resources that may need to be re-purposed after the project has been completed.
Selecting a Data Conversion Outsourcing Partner
After you have completed your in-house planning the next phase will be to identify and select a data conversion outsourcing vendor or provider. Many of the companies that sell data conversion software also provide outsourcing services to allow smaller organizations to use their products. As you begin your discussions with potential data conversion outsourcing partners there are a number of questions you should ask. One of the most important aspects is the question of experience - specifically, how much experience does the data conversion outsourcing provider have with businesses like your and of your size. In addition, you should also ask your data conversion outsourcing vendor for some references; speaking to actual customers is the best way of identifying any potential problems that you may encounter during your project.
Best Practices in Working with your Data Conversion Outsourcing Partner
After you have selected your data conversion outsourcing partner it's also important to maintain a set of fundamental policies in working with your data conversion outsourcing company. First, you should ensure that you have established clear lines of communication with the data conversion outsourcing company. Who is responsible for engaging with them? Who should handle problems when they arise? Do you have all the necessary contact information. A second key step is to ensure that your data conversion outsourcing company has a clear understanding of the work they should perform vs. the work that is going to be performed in house. Making sure that the data conversion outsourcing company has clearly defined working rules is going to be crucial to long-term success.
Data Conversion Outsourcing For the Long Term
Once you have completed your data conversion outsourcing project the next phase of development for your company will be to begin to build some expertise in house. The reason for this is simple. While initially a data conversion outsourcing strategy may provide with the lowest overall acquisition cost, over the long-haul this type of service may become very expensive. As your company grows and changes its needs you will have additional requirements for data conversion - but may not want to pay the price associated with an outsourcing vendor. In such instances it's best to ensure that the data conversion outsourcing company you are dealing with is prepared to sell you the tools you need and is prepared to train you in their usage. With this type of strategy you will achieve the best of two worlds, you will have a lower entry level price for your initial project, while ensuring that you build the skill set necessary to maintain your projects over the long-term.