Quick disclaimer: The company I moved files for is Bobalee Hydraulics, a custom design manufacturer of all styles of welded hydraulic and pneumatic cylinders for the OEM mobile market. However, their story relates to insurance agent's and agency's data migration concerns.
My name is Kelsey, and I survived data migration. Data migration is such a scary word to some, and rightfully so. It takes a lot of time & resources; I won't deny that. But, I'm here to tell you it can be done, and it really, truly, definitely pays off in the end (seriously).
Why did I do it?
I was maybe a senior in high school, it was the summer and I was looking to make a few bucks. My dad mentioned that the company he works for, Bobalee, was looking for someone to move some paper files into digital files. I thought, I know how to use a computer, I'm fast at data input, I can do this. I walked in on my first day, and this is pretty much what I saw:
Ok, so they didn't have THAT many files, but it's the best example I could find. Now, I didn't want to let on that I was suddenly discouraged, but ask anyone I know: I'm not the best at maintaining a straight face. I think the woman who brought me to the boxes must have seen my face because she gave a little laugh and said "good luck!"
What was it like?
For the most part, it was easy, but repetitive work. I took each individual paper file (these were purchase orders, in their case), scanned it through to my computer and brought them into the software they were using to organize them. Again, in their case, it was a software that helped them organize purchase orders, vendors & other important information. I literally did this for 8 hours every day for a couple weeks.
I know you're not reading this for me to sugar-coat anything, so I will let you in on the harsh truths. It was boring. It was also tiring. I was looking forward to lunch and then I was looking forward to 3:30pm each day when I could head home. I even suffered a few paper cuts and dry eyes from staring at a screen all day. But, an 18 year old like me was happy to have made that money for the 2-3 weeks it took me to get through all of those files. Not to mention, I now had new sculpted biceps from carrying the boxes.
I survived data migration; Bobalee thrived.
In Bobalee's situation, this data migration project didn't really affect anyone in their company since I was doing it all. That can be the case for your company, too. If you're in a college town, you could hire a college intern for this project. I'm sure there will be a student looking to make some extra money who would be happy to take on the project for you. If you're thinking you can't afford to hire someone for the project, look for internal resources. Maybe you won't get the job done in 2-3 weeks like I did for Bobalee, but finding a few hours here and there will get it done eventually.
My point in writing this blog is that, though data migration is scary for companies and takes time and resources to accomplish, it's worth it. Some employees who work with the new network of digital files from Bobalee gave me some insight into what they found most useful/what's been most helpful:
- Centralized information. They are now able to quickly look up parts/part numbers without having to deal with digging through paper files. In an insurance agent's or agency's case, centralized information in an agency management system would be incredibly helpful when it comes to looking up information on individuals, groups or policies. Another thing the Bobalee employees love about centralized information is that, in the event of someone's absence, you can still access important documents you may need.
- Organization. This may seem broad, but Bobalee loves that their files are now organized and maintained in a consistent way. They feel more confident about their system for filing now, especially in the event of an OSHA audit. This would be similar to insurance agent's or agency's E&O issues; you want to know where all of your files are and have a consistent way of maintaining them.
- Efficiency. This goes hand-in-hand with centralized information, but it's worth pointing out on its own. Now, Bobalee employees spend much less time searching for paper files. They just go to the centralized network and search for what they're looking for. This can be huge for insurance agencies, too. Just think if you could simply search for an individual, or maybe you're looking for carrier information. Simply login to your agency management system and quickly find the information you're looking for. No wasted time spent digging through paper files.
- Extra space. Now that Bobalee doesn't have boxes of files taking up space, they've been able to better utilize that office area. Though completely getting rid of paper files and file cabinets may be unreasonable for your company, ridding yourself of most of them grants you a cleaner, less crowded office to work in.
I'm not here to tell you it's easier than you think because it's probably not, but I am here to tell you that your life afterwards will be. And the sooner you get started, the sooner you'll arrive at an easier, more efficient work life.
If you're an insurance agent or agency looking to migrate your paper files to an easy-to-use agency management system, give us a call! We'd love to discuss how we can help you take the first step towards a more efficient, organized work life.
For more information and tips on data migration, check out a recording of this webinar we hosted with Steve Anderson: The CRM Data Migration Process.