In this Document...
- Is Conversion Practical?
- Determining the Scope of Your Data
- How is Your Data Currently Stored?
- Things We Do to Ensure a Quality Result
- The Fine Print: Why We Need the Entire Data Set
Options for Converting Existing Electronic Grave Data into the Pontem System
Each year, the number of organizations investigating Pontem as a digital solution for managing their cemetery records increases. Of these new inquiries, the number of organizations wishing to migrate from an existing electronic management system has also increased.
Pontem Software excels in converting cemetery data from other electronic formats and our technical staff have successfully helped hundreds of clients convert their valuable data to Pontem’s more robust cemetery record management system.
However, when converting data from one digital system to another there are several considerations, and conversion procedural steps depend on a variety of factors. Four of the most important are: Practicality, Scope, Source, and Quality of the data. This document focuses on how these factors impact the conversion process.
Is Converting your Data Practical?
We want you to come away from your data conversion experience with confidence your investment will yield a good return. While we understand your existing database likely represents many hours of work, that doesn’t mean it’s always a good investment to pursue a conversion.
Ask yourself, do you trust your data? Is the information accurate? Are you continuing to keep much of your data elsewhere, such as on a redundant paper system?
If your goal is to get ALL of your information into Pontem, but only a subset of your information is currently computerized, it’s possible you may need to review and flush out each record manually after converting your records anyway, in which case a conversion may not save you much time.
That being said, data conversion has GREAT VALUE for many Pontem clients.
Understanding the Scope of your Data
records, or tens of thousands of records. How much data you have to convert will impact the return on investment you will receive from converting your records.
Pontem’s database is designed to track Properties (Graves), People (Address Book), Decedents (Burials), and Deeds (Rights to Burial).
- Properties - Let’s begin with the Property (Grave) record. Your existing data must contain somewhat consistent property addresses to make a conversion possible.
- Burials – After Properties, the next most common item for conversion is Burial records. Pontem maintains a one-to-one relationship between a Burial and a Property, so converting burial information is usually fairly straightforward, provided the grave addresses to which the Burial is related is part of the legacy data.
- Owners – Often Owner information is part of the data set needing conversion. Pontem allows many graves per owner, and also allows multiple owners per grave. Additionally, there are business rules built into the system to help prevent duplicate Owners. Adding owner information makes a data conversion more complex.
- Deeds – Pontem also tracks and manages deed information. In Pontem, many graves can be linked to a single deed, and the information for Owners of the properties must match the Deed to ensure a successful conversion. Deeds are legal documents for many of our clients, so the Deed data must conform to specific business rules. Deed information adds to the complexity of a data conversion.
If you wish to pursue a customized data analysis and conversion it will be necessary for Pontem to review your existing data so we can accurately assess and analyze it.
How you send your information for review depends on how it’s presently stored. We have found organizations typically use one of the following three ways to store their information electronically:
- Spreadsheets -- It is very common for data to be stored in a spreadsheet or a series of spreadsheets. Spreadsheets are fairly easy to transfer, share, and interpret. Sending Pontem a copy of your spreadsheets via e-mail is a good way to begin the review process. You can send a spreadsheet in an .xls, .xlsx, or a .csv file format.
- Access SQL Database -- Many locally-created and obsolete programs actually use an MS Access database. More and more, we see in-house .SQL databases as well. If this is your situation, it’s helpful for us to receive a copy of the entire database. This allows us to see how the various database tables are related to one another, allowing us to more easily replicate proper relationships when your data is converted to Pontem. Having these joined tables visible will also reduce the amount of time you will have to spend explaining and confirming how your data is structured.
- Proprietary System -- Unfortunately, we often begin our work with a new client when their old system has become obsolete, or the company who built it is no longer in business. Many custom-built and older systems use a proprietary and non-standard format for storing data. This makes it difficult for you, as an end-user, to even extract the data to move it to a new system. If this is your situation, there is hope. Pontem’s technical experts have successfully extracted the data from a variety of proprietary systems and can possibly do the same for you.
Data Extraction is a fee-based service we provide. For those with a proprietary system, this is a necessary first step in order to obtain your data so it can be reviewed for a possible conversion. When data is extracted, all of the data is sent to you as .csv files so you can do with it as you wish. Should you also want us to review your data to provide a quote for the cost of conversion into Pontem’s software we can do that for you as well.
Ensuring a High Quality Result
Once the scope and source of your data have been determined, we can begin the work of analyzing your data and provide the results of the analysis along with a cost estimate to import the data into Pontem.
At Pontem, data quality is paramount. You will live with the results of your data conversion as long as you use the Pontem system, so it is important it is done RIGHT. It’s not just a matter of forcing the data from the old system into any field in the new system. Pontem is known for its high-quality data management -- the result of a well thought out set of business rules which dictate how data is stored in the system. Data that is to be converted needs to conform to these high standards a well.
Here are a few things we do when we review data for a possible conversion:
- Check all fields for valid data types (dates, numeric only, etc.)
- Check all fields for maximum width (names are limited to 50 characters, etc.)
- Parsing data - full name into individual first, last, title, etc.
- Check grave addressing rules including number of fields, width of fields, illegal characters (hyphen, etc.)
- Evaluate lookup values, removal of duplicates
- Determine if there is a deed number, and any impacts
- Determine if we need to store additional data via Notes
- Review for best-practice concerns and communicate strategies to the client
- Identify included data not relevant to the conversion
- Strategize use of User-Defined-Fields for nonstandard information
- Import images when file links are included
- Check for normalization of data that will convert into data entry pick-lists
After your data has been analyzed we will contact you to discuss the results of the data analysis and to strategize the next steps. Often we recommend specific data clean-up tasks be performed by the client prior to delivering the data to us for final conversion. Sometimes we can write a program that can help clean up your data such as changing dates to a specific format, splitting full names into First Name and Last Name fields, etc.
The details of your data analysis will be delivered to you along with a proposal providing details of the cost of your custom conversion. We want you to know specifically what items will be included, and what items, (if any), that were included in your original data files which will be excluded from those to be converted. The result will be a data conversion that gives you your information just as you expect, and behaving within the new system just as described.
Once your data conversion has been completed, the data will be installed by a Pontem staff member who will teach you how to review it for accuracy. Of course, your data already will have been through an in-house quality review. You will have 30 days to review and work with your data and bring any issues to our attention for correction.
The Fine Print
In order to ensure high quality results and an accurate quote, IT IS VERY IMPORTANT we receive your data IN ITS ENTIRETY. Sample data sets and screen shots from existing systems will not reveal hidden data anomalies and other pitfalls buried within the data. We cannot provide a conversion quote without the entire data set. Subsequent, additional data provided above and beyond data originally reviewed and quoted will be subject to additional conversion charges at our regular service rate.
Pontem adheres to the absolute highest standards of professionalism and confidentiality when dealing with customer data. While most of our customers know we handle the data of many cemeteries every day, some may need additional assurance.
If your data contains sensitive or private information you may choose to remove the sensitive data prior to sending the remaining information to Pontem. Any data removed cannot be considered as part of the conversion.
Should you require Pontem to execute a non-disclosure agreement in order for a conversion review to proceed, please contact your Pontem Sales Specialist who will work with you to provide the necessary documentation.