Information Builders Helps Manufacturer Slash Migration Effort by 50 Percent

Herman Miller, an international firm engaged primarily in the manufacturing and sale of ergonomic office furniture, knows that a nimble and efficient IT infrastructure is required for admission to the fiercely competitive global marketplace in which the $1.5 billion company operates.

For this reason, Herman Miller decided to deploy a Baan Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system. The Baan system will give Herman Miller an integrated framework for all of the company’s manufacturing, purchasing, accounts payable, general ledger, distribution and order management needs.

Herman Miller personnel were impressed by Baan’s Dynamic Enterprise Modeling tool, a front-end tool that allows users to define business processes and procedures and generates parameters for the system, right down to configuring individual desktops. Herman Miller found that using the Dynamic Enterprise Model to define and drive their processes was a very good model, and they contracted for 1200 concurrent Baan licenses.

Before it can exploit the strategic benefits of the ERP system, however, Herman Miller needs to migrate mountains of data from its legacy IMS/DL1 hierarchical databases to the Baan platform. As IT personnel discovered, this is a time-consuming and labor-intensive task, which threatened their ability to meet a very aggressive ERP deployment schedule.

To prevent this from happening, Herman Miller looked for the most efficient end-to-end data migration solution available. After a thorough review of the available products, the company chose Information Builders’ SNAPpack Data Migrator for Baan.

"We wanted an end-to-end solution that would allow us to point and click to define the source tables and fields for the legacy files and the target environment," said Rex Kiekintveld, Director of Transaction-Based Systems at Herman Miller.

SNAPpack Data Migrator for Baan automates the task of building Baan initial data transfers. Data Migrator’s enterprise infrastructure manages the execution, data movement, and scheduling of migration jobs from source data extraction through data transformation and finally through target load. An audit log records all activities of the migration process.

Data Migrator exploits Information Builders’ common data access framework, providing robust access to virtually any database or application on any computer platform, and works with all security systems and network architectures.

By eliminating or reducing the need for programming, the tool simplifies the process of migrating data from existing business systems into Baan and vice-versa. Data Migrator can reduce the conversion time and labor of merging enterprise data into Baan between 50 percent to 70 percent.

In using SNAPpack Data Migrator, Herman Miller expects to avoid having to outsource the effort of migrating legacy data to Baan. "The savings in labor costs are certainly welcome," Kiekintveld added. "But the time factor is most significant for us."

Building a Better ERP

Working with its Deloitte & Touche partners, Herman Miller successfully completed a proof of concept for Data Migrator. Working with both IMS/DL1 and DB2 legacy data, the evaluation team demonstrated how Data Migrator converts data and automatically populates the Baan database. The evaluation team validated the IMS/DL1 and DB2 drivers, confirming that the Baan applications were populated correctly.

Kiekintveld credits much of Data Migrator’s efficiency to its user-friendly visual interface. "We did not have to write extracts out of the mainframe after we did some up-front work to define those master files," he said. "Data Migrator also provides all the dependencies so that the analyst knows what to load first."

Once the metadata is set up and defined, Herman Miller personnel can pull the data and link it to the target table within Baan. "It really combines two steps — the extract and the load — into one process," Kiekintveld said. "The tool then automates the transformations."

A majority of Herman Miller’s legacy data sources are stored as IMS/DL1 databases; others are in DB2 format. The target platform for the Baan ERP system is a Hewlett-Packard Server running UNIX. Herman Miller is standardizing on an Oracle DBMS using a three-tier client/server architecture.

Herman Miller’s will initially use Data Migrator to define and populate the Baan ERP applications. The company expects to eventually put the tool to routine use in the data center to build interfaces for batch applications or to replicate data. For example, when Herman Miller builds data warehouses, it can use Data Migrator to migrate data from other databases.

"With our decision to use SNAPpack Data Migrator for Baan, we expect a two-to-one time savings over writing our own extraction programs," he said. "We believe it will allow us to shave 50 percent off the time required to write extracts from approximately 50 to 100 legacy data sources."

"We expect to migrate data in half the time and with half the effort. This level of productivity will make a significant contribution to our ability to meet our implementation schedules, Kiekintveld concluded.

About the Author:

John Kador is a freelance writer in Geneva, Ill. He can be reached at

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