Pet Sitting Software: Best Practices for Making the Transition
Chances are, your thinking about switching to Scout from another pet sitting software provider. In order to assist you in preparing and executing a system transition, here are some best practices to keep in mind.
Make a Plan
There is an old saying that “proper planning prevents piss poor performance”. This is especially true when performing a pet sitting software transition. The first step to making a plan is to contact your new pet sitting software vendor. You will want to find out if they have an automated, semi-automated, or manual process for transferring your data to the new system. If your provider provides an automated or semi-automated process, you will also want to find out how to format your data and what data can be transferred. For smaller companies, your plan may call for an owner to perform all the necessary work related to the transfer. If you’re planning to enlist help from a vendor, project manager, or to hire people for data entry, you will want to make a budget.
Communicate with your Stakeholders
Before transitioning to a new system, you will want to inform your employees, contractors, and clients of your intent to transition. Make sure to provide important details such as the benefits of the new system, a timeline for completion, and any tasks you will need them to complete as part of the process.
Validate Your Data
Before charging ahead to the transfer, you will want to validate that all of the data being transferred is correct. Nothing is worse than going through the entire process of loading your data into a new system only to find out that you also transferred data errors. For our purposes here, you will want to make sure that all of your client, pet, and pet sitter notes are up to date and accurate. This is an excellent time to perform a comprehensive review of all client, contractor, and employee information, and make any necessary updates.
Retrieve Your Current Data
This process will differ based on a number of factors such as, which system you are transferring from, what data is available for download, and how your current data is formatted. The most common way to download data is comma-separated values (.csv). This is a text document where different data fields are separated by a comma. To complete step 2 above, I recommend viewing this file as a spreadsheet. Most of your data will be available in the reporting module of your current software. Download any and all reports that are available to you. Even if these reports contain information you are not transferring, you will want a backup of any information you have the ability to access.
Format Your Data for the New System
Using the information provided by your vendor, you will need to format your data according to the structure your new software uses. This is basically a list of available fields as well as the field name. Be careful here. You will want to match exactly the case (upper or lower) and syntax (name) of the fields so the new system recognizes what data goes where.
Perform the Data Transfer
In most cases, if you’re doing an automated or semi-automated transfer, your vendor will more than likely perform this step for you. All you need to do is provide your data in the format required. If you are performing a manual transfer, this will involve copying and pasting your data from one system into the other. If you are doing this, you will want to have a method for tracking what you have and have not completed.
Validate the Accuracy and Completeness of the Transfer
This is a crucial step in the process. You will want to perform a spot check to make sure your data was transferred. You will want to randomly select 10% to 20% off your data to validate. If you have 20 employees, select 4 of them and manually review their entries. If you have 200 clients, select 10 or 20 of them and manually review on their information.
For purposes of dog walking and pet sitting, you will want to match each and every appointment scheduled in your previous system to the appointments in your new system. Don’t be afraid to enlist your clients and walkers for help. They have a vested interest in making sure the transition is as smooth as possible. Draft a letter or email informing your clients of the change and the importance of making sure all their appointments were transferred properly.
Run Both Systems Simultaneously
This step can be a real pain but will help ensure everything is running properly. Set a start date and an end date that allows you to test each process in your business cycle including but not limited to scheduling, service completion, billing, and payroll. Once you are comfortable that the transfer is accurate and that the system is performing to your expectations its time to turn off the old system.