Friday, July 09, 2004
DataLoad - a tool to facilitate system data migration
This post discusses the DataLoad Software - a tool that will assist you in application data migration.
In the early days of my present occupation, namely Oracle ERP Consultant, I was introduced to the DataLoad utility. I can’t remember who introduced me to the tool but I owe them a big thankyou. I have subsequently used it on every single implementation I have been involved in for the past 3 years and am sure I will continue to make use of it in the future. I was able to learn DataLoad incredibly quickly as it is very easy to use. In a former life I was a BaaN consultant, I only wish I had been introduced to this product then as DataLoad can work on any application that accepts inputs from a keyboard or mouse. DataLoad comes in two versions, namely Classic and Professional. Up until now I’ve managed to get by using the Classic version which is free but on my most recent implementation we had some fairly heavy duty data loads to perform and so decided to buy Professional. The differences between the two version are outlined on the DataLoad site. According to the DataLoad site: -
“DataLoad loads data into any application running in Windows, and contains extra functionality for loading data and setup into Oracle Applications.
DataLoad loads data through the forms. This means the data is indistinguishable from that entered by users. To load data using DataLoad you setup DataLoad to load into the forms and the forms load the data into your system. This non-technical approach means the load can be built and run by non-technical users, and by not having to write conventional interfaces into the database a huge amount of time and money can be saved”.
Essentially there are two types of data that one needs to think about when it comes to Enterprise Applications - master data and transactional data. Examples of Master Data are Customer or Supplier information whilst transactional data might consist of sales or purchase invoices. In the instance of Oracle Applications a further data type (which is essentially master data) can be outlined, namely Application Object Library (AOL) or Setup Data such as profile options and flexfield definitions.
Loading data of any type into your application from DataLoad Classic is a three step process: -
1. Obtain your data in Electronic Format (e.g text file, excel file)
2. Copy or Import the data into a DataLoad template.
3. Load the data in to your application from the DataLoad template.
The key to success is designing your DataLoad template in ways that ensures a smooth load of your data. The DataLoad template will be used to load your data by simulating the keystrokes and mouse clicks that you would normally use to capture the data manually. An example of what a DataLoad template looks like is as follows: -
DataLoad Template Example (for loading the Accounting Calendar)
For Oracle Applications users, Pre-Built Spreadsheets or templates can be downloaded from the DataLoad web site for each module - the obvious benefit here is you will save time by not having to build your own templates. The pre-built templates can also be edited and I find it best to start out with a pre-built template and modify it, rather than building a template from scratch.
Obviously DataLoad is not the only way to migrate or load data into your applications. Each alternative means of data migration should be carefully considered and the pros and cons established (the Accenture presentation mentioned below provides a good comparison of the alternatives). Where necessary a cost benefit analysis may need to be prepared.
The following presentations will provide you with further information on DataLoad: -