The Essential Steps of a CRM Data Migration

CRM Data Migration Steps to Cloud CRMA proper CRM data migration is often more than a simple point and click proposition, despite the ability of CRM applications to import data and despite the existence of off the shelf data migration tools.  What are the factors that make the ultimately most cost effective data migration more than a basic, technical procedure?

One way to put this into perspective is to take a look at the many possible steps involved in a proper CRM data migration.

CRM Data Migration Steps


Analysis involves not only examining existing data, but also looking at overall business requirements.


There are a number of decisions that need to be made around what data to keep and what data to migrate to a new CRM.  Should certain records be excluded from the data migration?  Should there be a history cutoff date?  Is email history really needed?


Normalizing data means taking redundant fields from a flat contact manager and creating structured relationships in a CRM database.  A series of repeated fields can be much better managed as a related table or “object” in a CRM system.


The target CRM system needs to be customized based on information from the previous steps.  Customization can involve anything from adding new fields to creating custom tables to setting up validation rules to deploying scripted business logic.


Once you’ve decided what data to keep and what the structure of your company’s new CRM system is going to be, you’ll next need a data map, which is normally a spreadsheet-based representation of where data will come from and where data will go.


Before performing a test data migration, data needs to be extracted from the existing contact manager and/or CRM system.  In many cases, data need to be pulled out of a legacy format and stored in an intermediary database such as SQL Server or MySQL.


Often, legacy data needs to be transformed before it goes into a CRM system.  For example, the format of a date field in a contact manager might be different from the format of a date field in the CRM.  Culling down large pick lists often involves transforming old values into new, replacement values.


If your current database has a lot of duplicates, part of the data migration process may involve merging duplicate records.  This process should include retaining certain values from “losing” records so that no important data is lost.


Before performing a final data migration, it’s important to perform a partial import in order to make sure that the data is going into the right places in the new CRM system.


The test CRM data import often reveals the need for some refinements to the data map or how data should be transformed.  The final data migration is the last step before go-live.


Even with plenty of preparation and careful execution of the process, post data migration cleanup can be required.  This may involve running scripts against all records or performing some manual record deduplication using a tool within the new CRM system.

Who Should Perform a CRM Data Migration?

Because of all the steps required for a proper data migration, many companies outsource most of these tasks rather than trying to manage them internally.  While outsourcing a CRM data migration can appear more expensive on first blush, a much more streamlined process can save significantly more money in the long run.

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