AyalaLand migrates 173 companies on time

Real estate and property development firm AyalaLand, based in the Philippines, had to migrate 173 companies to a new version of SAP ECC, and with some assistance from BackOffice Associates, managed to solve their data nightmares to complete the migration on time.


AyalaLand Inc (ALI), one of the Philippines’ largest and most respected real estate and property development firms, currently operates 173 active companies, caters to the needs of 100,000+ plus business partners and carries 1000+ properties and buildings, 140,000+ rental objects and more than 4.5 million accounts receivable/payable open items. To help them manage their multi-faceted business processes, they have been longtime users of the SAP ERP solution.

In 2012, ALI was in the midst of a major migration from SAP ERP version 4.6C to SAP ECC 6.0. ALI’s existing SAP solution was specially customised because they chose not to perform a standard technical upgrade. Moreover, ALI wanted to implement new functionalities such as Flexible Real Estate Management (RE-FX). During the project, ALI recognised that they could add considerable value to their investment if they took the opportunity to migrate the underlying data to conform to the more exacting requirements of the newer ERP solution.

To help them achieve their goals within a tight timeframe, as well as to guarantee an upgrade without business interruption, ALI contracted ERP data specialists BackOffice Associates to manage the data track of the project. BackOffice Associates specialises in large, complex data migration and governance projects and has developed a proven methodology, ‘Load Early, Load Often®’, to facilitate the process.

Conversion challenges

At the outset of the system upgrade project, ALI had anticipated performing all of the data conversion tasks in-house. However, as the project unfolded, they realised that the data extraction and upload to the target SAP ERP system using traditional methods was becoming a bottleneck, especially given their huge volumes. The risk of missing the target go-live date was looming.

“Failure was not an option,” says Annie Alipao, CIO, business information systems and processing division (BISPD) at ALI. “We had to go-live on the appointed day since the consequences for the many companies impacted would have been significant.”

Engagement with BackOffice Associates

“We were contacted by the ALI team while their project was already on and just before the data migration process became critical,” says Alex Hoehl, director of operations and sales support at BackOffice Associates.

“They were aware of our reputation for delivering successful outcomes on complex data migration projects and appreciated the fact that we had particular expertise in the real estate sector.  

BackOffice Associates assigned a team of experts – both onsite and offshore – to support the project. ALI required a ‘progressive migration’ in which selected data sets would be migrated in succession as part of delta loads.

“Coming into the project in the midst of the process, our data migration and governance methodologies were key to getting the project back on track,” says Hoehl.

One of the first tasks was to train key players in the use of BackOffice Associates’ best practice processes. One of the benefits that BackOffice Associates brings to a project is that they are strong believers in knowledge transfer and empower their clients to take ownership of the project and become efficient in the application of the solutions.

“We found the BackOffice Associates’ Data Migration Toolset™ quite intuitive and really easy-to-use,” says Milton Villafuerte, information systems manager, BISPD. “Once the business mapping rules were in place, we could effortlessly generate files for our mock loads and repeat the process during the delta loads and as the migration progressed. BackOffice Associates also showed us how to extract and migrate complex long text from our Sales Contracts database. This had been a significant challenge from the beginning and could have been problematic. However, it was a non-issue.”

Immediate impact

The team from BackOffice Associates had an immediate positive impact. “The Finance and Logistics Transaction data loading using traditional methods was a nightmare from the start,” says Dinna Ramos, information systems manager, BISPD. “But once we took BackOffice Associates’ suggestion of applying their data migration methodology, we were able to cut the upload duration by almost 80 per cent. This was a huge gain that helped us achieve our cutover milestones.”

In total, BackOffice Associates’ engagement lasted a little over four months. This allowed ALI to meet their tight timeframe and transfer all 173 active companies with 340 business entities and more than 4.5 million records to their new SAP ERP platform in a single ‘big bang’ upgrade. None of this would have been possible without injection of expertise by BackOffice Associates as the project developed. “The BackOffice Associates project team integrated with our company’s workforce seamlessly,” says Alipao. “I am confident that significant manual effort reduction was possible due to BackOffice Associates being there. This, in turn, was key to the overall success of the data migration and the upgrade.”

This case study was first published in the Inside SAP Yearbook 2014 and sponsored by BackOffice Associates.

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