Organizations give a lot of emphasis and spend considerable time to build processes for entering data into an ERP system. Organizations also spend a lot of time in developing processes for archiving manuals, drawings, specifications, and other hard-copy documents. But, the question is -do organizations spend sufficient time on data archiving? In most cases, the answer would be either no or not yet ready.

Irrespective of its size and revenue, organizations that run Baan applications extensively should consider doing data archival. Depending on the data transactions volumes, typically an organization should consider data archiving after 4-5 years of going live. Archiving in general is the process of moving historical data from the operational environment to a special archive environment. Archiving historical data is an irreversible process. After data is moved to the archive company, the data can no longer be uploaded back into the operational company. Therefore, an organization must define a robust archiving strategy. Baan system administrators who are mostly responsible to undertake such project should have a strategy and address three major topics: What, When and Who.

The objective of this eBook, is to create awareness about archiving data and how, consultants do this job meticulously.

Importance of data archiving

An organization has to decide what must be stored and for how long. Every finance manager must decide how long what data must be stored, in other words, kept in an operational environment for quick use. The prime reasons why organizations should consider archiving are listed below:

Improving the run time for generating financial reports.
In the operational system, the data used for running the reports is humungous. The system has to identify the relevant report from a vast selection and print the same which consumes a lot of time. By migrating the data there is ample space created in the operation system, which makes it all the more easier for the system to pick up the relevant report in less time.

Improve MRP run times.
Material Requirements Planning (MRP) is a complex process imbibing all the elements of planning, procurement and manufacturing, from start to finish. The process is so intricate,that it eats up a considerable amount of time and also occupies sizeable space. Archiving proves to be a saviour by migrating a huge chunk of the data and thereby creating a window for MRP runs to be processed in less time.

Make space for live server memory
By deleting the obsolete data there is increased longevity, coupled with an enhanced efficiency.
Improve performance of job processing
As data in the tables grow, running processes tend to slow down. This is where archiving makes its presence felt by unburdening the system and fuelling it up to perform at high speed.

Data accessible anytime
Historical data can be accessed for reporting purposes with read-only option

Data archiving strategy

With growing data volume, increasing data security breaches, and complex application-performance issues, most organizations today face significant data management challenges. Keeping inactive data online not only creates security risk, but also increases infrastructure and database cost. Although there are several options available to control data growth, data archiving is the best long-term solution to significantly improve application performance and reduce the cost of servers and storage.

An organization’s data archiving strategy is a plan to ensure that inactive data is stored, managed, secured, accessed, and destroyed according to the policies you define. Building a data archiving strategy requires the participation of several stakeholders, including data architects, enterprise architects, database administrators (DBAs), developers, information security and infrastructure professionals, business analysts and business users.

A data archiving strategy should focus on archiving inactive data periodically. After retaining that archived data for another period,consider moving it to longer-term offline storage such as tapes — though an organization’s policies may differ depending on the need to keep data online versus offline. During archival of data there could be slow response on certain Baan processes- MRP, job processing etc. It is advisable that organizations must plan for the archiving service during “lean” business periods, for example during long weekends. The time to complete archiving depends on the data to be moved out of live company to the archiving company.

Common data archiving challenges

Allocation of resources : On the flip side there are certain challenges to be overcome in archiving.
People: Archiving is a separate world in itself, and to conquer it requires a certain amount of know-how and expertise. Users often need to be trained so as to operate it at full efficiency.
Budget: Since we are creating a separate archiving company, it needs a certain level of investment and a separate budget allocation. This creates a certain amount of reluctance on the part of the management. However, this can be tackled by creating awareness about the merits of archiving, which overshadow its imperceptible imperfections. This is after all a small price to pay in view of the future returns on the investment.
Hardware: Another impediment is the hardware set-up. As a general practice, the data is stored in different companies and each archiving company has at least a year worth of data. This calls for additional space in the server.
Timeline: Timeline is another crucial factor playing truant. As we are migrating a huge volume of data there can be no accurate estimation of time that the system will take to run and complete the whole process. In addition, any error arising in the due course only serves to prolong the already tedious process.
Pre-requisites-
ERP LN requires logistical and financial processes to be completed for the data to be archived.Logistics and finance are interwoven. Whether a logistic process is a purchase order or sales order, it has to be in essence wholly completed for it, to reflect in finance.The whole process can move ahead only if all the individual processes are in a completed status.
Archiving does not encourage any deficient data. Not understanding the recommended prerequisites give scope for confusion as to why some data is still found in live company
Certain data, like master data is essential for operational company and hence is retained in the operational company. However, the master data is copied(without deleting) to the archiving company to maintain data consistency.

Data archiving methodology

Described below are the critical steps adopted in data archiving in ERP LN:

Allocate space in the RDBMS/Server for the archiving activity
Creation of archiving company as a mirror image of operational company with all the required activities performed in company setup
Maintain common master data and the parameters
Start archiving process using the standard sessions in the application after completing the pre-requisites for each session individually
Straightening out the errors if any and re-process the same session
Check the data in archiving company after completion of all the sessions
Transfer/relocate the data to external device or other server

Rational approach to data archiving

Some organizations are not clear on what inactive data they must retain and what they may archive or purge. As a result, these organizations avoid archiving for fear of failing to meet compliance requirements. In addition, too many organizations manage storage reactively as opposed to proactively, hiding the cost implications of failing to act. Once established, an archiving strategy helps clearly define what data you must retain, what you can archive or purge, and how users should access archived data. When an organization is not properly aware about data archiving and how to initiate the process, it is advisable to consult experts who have wide knowledge on the subject. Consultants who possess deep knowledge of financial and logistics process can be trusted to assign such task. Knowledge on archiving process is also a mandatory criterion a consultant must have. Listed below are the benefits that an organization will derive by hiring an expert consultant.

Assessment as to recommend archiving is needed or not
An expert consultant will decide on the necessity of archiving, depending on the company size and turnover. Small companies operating on a small database and small budget may not require archiving, as their database is relatively smaller and easier to manage. Archiving however is a must for companies operating on large database. A consultant would identify the companies that need archiving.

Providing assistance to educate users on the Baan/ERP LN process prerequisites
Imparting training to the users would help them understand the setup, its importance and speed up the performance of both the users and the system.

Provide help in executing the archiving process
The users would be provided continuous support and back up in executing the archiving process from the beginning.

Provide tools to help users measure the archiving process success
The time taken to run certain reports/processes before archiving and after archiving is compared and recorded in a log.This enables the management to compare and analyse the time factor involved in archiving and how the processes are considerably speeded up after archiving.

Project management support
A consultant with wide expertise and knowledge can foresee which activities take time and accordingly advise the management on the sluggishness of the system during the archiving process. As a result, the organization can prepare itself for the delay.The schedule can be adjusted accordingly by the management based on the delayed performance of the system.

Having a good understanding of the process, methodology, tools coupled with the knowledgeable advice provided by expert consultants would make your management of data a simple task, thereby achieving greater operational efficiency and resource productivity. After you define an archiving strategy that suits your requirements, you candefine the archiving plan with the help of an expert. In this plan, you translate the archiving strategy into a moreoperational level.