Data Migration Testing for Life Sciences: How It Works & Why It Matters

For life sciences companies, moving data and content to new systems is high stakes. Data migration testing is an important part of the migration project. In this blog, we explain what this is and why it is crucial to compliance and success.

As technology continues to evolve and impact the way life sciences companies manage data, said data and content will inevitably need to migrate from one location, format or application to another. Simply put: This process cannot be successful without data migration testing.

What is Data Migration Testing?

Data migration testing is an important step of a migration, and broader system implementation project, to prevent data loss or corruption and minimize unplanned downtime and cost overruns.

So, how important is testing?

The short answer: Very.

In fact, it is so important that, in our typical life sciences data migration project, we follow a multi-step testing process that first plans the testing approach, prototypes the test, formally tests – all before the actual migration – and then verifies the output after the migration actually happens. This level of data migration testing ensures a compliant, validated migration.

Types of Formal Data Migration Testing

We always recommend planning and prototyping the migration before formal testing. But many organizations wonder what this testing actually looks like in terms of what and who needs to be involved.

To start, it is one of five steps in the broader scope of the migration process:

  1. Plan
  2. Analyze
  3. Prototype
  4. Test
  5. Deploy

Here are three ways we conduct migration testing – formally step number four – to maximize project outcomes:

#1. Count-Based Testing

During count-based testing, you check that the number of records in the target system matches those migrated from the source.

This verifies that every record has made it from point A to point B. If the number of records in the target system does not match the number of records you identified to migrate from the source, per the migration requirements and mapping rules, that means you have lost data or possibly duplicated data in the process.

Count Based Testing is executed by the Technical team prior to business team testing.

#2. Functional Testing with Migrated Content

It is one thing to know that the right number of records have migrated to the target system. But does the migrated information behave the way it’s supposed to in the target system?

During functional testing, the overall behavior of the system (and the end-user functionality) is regression tested to ensure that the application works correctly with the migrated data.

Functional Testing is typically executed by Business subject matter experts.

#3. Business Verification

It is recommended to have end-users randomly sample migrated data to verify it migrated per the mapping requirements.

Business Verification is executed by Business subject matter experts.

How to Conduct Migration Testing: Partner Up

Each testing approach sounds simple enough, but how are these tests actually executed?

Data migration testing is a rigorous, technical process for any industry—even more so for clinical organizations where keeping patient and drug documents and data secure are critical.

While it is valuable to understand testing at a high level, this requires IT expertise along with business involvement. Your internal IT department will know how to approach a migration, but this type of project requires specialty knowledge and experience.

So, consider your team’s current bandwidth before you dive in – and consider bringing in specialists that can help by:

  1. Planning and strategizing the system implementation and migration
  2. Implementing and overseeing migration best practices
  3. Augmenting your existing IT and Business resources to provide more bandwidth to your team

While you stay focused on business operations, your partner can help you approach this project with ease and navigate the complex requirements of the tightly regulated life sciences industry.


Data and content migrations are unavoidable, especially as technology continues to mature and companies merge or acquire new products. Testing is an important part of migration projects to ensure data integrity.

By partnering with migration specialists, you will be able to prevent data loss or corruption and minimize unplanned downtime and cost overruns—and get back up and running with your systems in no time.

Many life sciences companies are migrating data and content to Veeva Vault. If that’s you, try our free migration and query tools to securely and cost-effectively make it happen—or let us know how we can help.