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Astrix Blog – Data Migration Planning of your Pharmacovigilance System

In today’s ever changing Pharmacovigilance system organizations, companies often find themselves in a situation where it is advantageous to upgrade their pharmacovigilance system by migrating data from legacy systems into a new or even existing system.  A data migration project will often involve the use of ETL technology to assist.

Migrating data to a pharmacovigilance system can be a challenging endeavor, however, companies often have years of historical data and knowledge stored in their existing pharmacovigilance system that must be migrated over to the chosen system. Depending on the amount and complexity of the data sources in the legacy system(s), as well as the complexity of the new system, the data migration can require much time and labor. Unless the project team does proper planning and execution, the migration process can end up being the cause of major project delays and even cause compliance risk.

Data migration for a PV implementation project involves extracting, translating and loading as much static and historical legacy data as possible into the new or chosen system. The migration is typically accomplished through a combination of manual processes (e.g., developing custom software, manual data entering, moving files, etc.) and automated programmable migration tools. Given the time and labor involved in manual data migration, it is wise to maximize the use of automated tools in the process. In this blog, we will discuss some of the benefits, challenges and best practices involved in using automated ETL (Extract-Transfer-Load) tools to migrate data from legacy systems to a new safety system.

Data Migration Plan

Data migration is often a bigger job than anticipated during a pharmacovigilance implementation. It is common for the project team to focus on activities such as system configuration and software testing and put off data migration to later stages of the implementation. This is a mistake that can end up causing major project delays and impact business continuity. Data migration should be accomplished in the early stages of the implementation project.

When migrating data to the new pharmacovigilance system, static legacy data (and sometimes dynamic data as well) must be extracted, translated and loaded into a new location. Before the migration begins, an analysis should be done that examines the data structure of both the source and target. Once this analysis is complete, a data migration plan is developed that takes into account the needs of all the different stakeholders involved. The plan should define which data will be migrated, why, and in what manner.

Pharmacovigilance organizations must also take steps to validate the data both during and after the migration. The data migration plan should detail the ways in which the data transformations that are performed during the migration (prior to loading them into the final system) are correct. The plan should also detail the methods used to verify that the data is correct after the final loading into the new pharmacovigilance system.

The data migration plan will likely include both manual and automated data migration activities. In general, maximizing the use of automated programmable tools (ETL) for data migration, while utilizing manual methods when needed, is the best approach. There are a variety of commercial and open source ETL tools out there. Our experience is that open source tools tend to be buggy, so a commercial tool is usually the best option.


It is critically important, when looking to do a data migration, that you ensure you have the right external organizations involved who can assist you with your unique needs. Formulating the appropriate strategy is imperative. Astrix’s professionals have worked with many of the top life science organizations to assist them with their business needs in this area. As a technology-agnostic partner, without a preconceived preference for a specific supplier or product, we work closely with your team to ensure solutions are reviewed and incorporated into your business so that you succeed in realizing your vision and achieving your organizational goals.

About Astrix

Astrix is the unrivaled market-leader in creating & delivering innovative strategies, solutions, and people to the life science community.  Through world class people, process, and technology, Astrix works with clients to fundamentally improve business & scientific outcomes and the quality of life everywhere. Founded by scientists to solve the unique challenges of the life science community, Astrix offers a growing array of strategic, technical, and staffing services designed to deliver value to clients across their organizations.