What is data conversion?
Data conversion is simply the process of moving data from one place to another. Whether you are trying to convert data from an old application into your new Access application, or trying to export your Access data into other applications, data conversions can be a real challenge (read "pain in the butt"!).
Theoretically, data conversion is simply matching data fields from one system to the data fields in another system. In practice, however, it is far more complicated. I've identified some of the more common issues:
- "Field Splitting" involves splitting data that is stored in 1 field in the old application into 2 or more fields in the new application. For example, a single name field (with format of "LastName, FirstName") might have to be split into 2 name fields ("FirstName" and "LastName").
- "Field Combining" involves combining 2 or more fields into one, which seems easy enough but can be tricky. For example, combining an Address1 and an Address2 into a single Address field must solve the sticky problem of inserting a carriage return between the lines, but ONLY if there is data in the Address2 field!
- "Data Cleanup" involves correcting those problems make data conversion difficult or impossible. Often due to poor data entry validations, these might involve invalid dates or invalid numeric data.
- "Field Standardization" involves converting variations of field values into a single, acceptable field value. For example, the list below shows a variety of spellings for just one city that I encountered when converting a customer database (not including the misspellings!):
St. Petersburg Beach
St. Petersburg Bch
St. Pete Beach
St. Pete Bch
St Pete Beach
St Pete Bch
What will it cost?
Because of the unexpected problems that can arise, data conversions are almost always billed on actual time. I seldom will provide a fixed-price quote for conversion work. I will provide an estimate of the expected time it will take, and can also provide a "not too exceed" figure. Plus, I will keep you informed as I go along if the conversion doesn't go as well as we expected, so you can decide whether or not to continue. Sometimes we find that some data is just too difficult (or expensive) to convert, and we will only convert what we can within budget.