The Best Approach to CRM Data Migration (And Why It's Not Scary)

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The Best Approach to CRM Data Migration (And Why It's Not Scary)
by Marketing


CRM is one of the best software for building and maintaining business relationships. A Customer Relationship Management system tracks customer information and interactions, creating a personalized experience for clients. Most CRMs allow you to migrate data through various formats, including CSV files, data migration apps, and third-party vendors. 


Every business is unique, and there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to data migration. We’ll walk you through the three most common types of data migration and the pros and cons of each.



Native CRM Migration: How to Migrate Data Using CSV Files 


One of the simplest ways to migrate your data is to use the CRM’s native import tool. You can migrate data between CRM systems using a CSV file.


What is a CSV file? CSV stands for comma-separated value. In simple terms, this means data is separated using commas. CSV files are used for saving tabular data, such as spreadsheets and database records. 


For example, here are a couple of contact records stored in CSV file format:



First Name, Last Name, Email, Number, Address

John,Doe,,850-926-3030,101 White Street

Mary,White,,850-926-3031,102 White Street



The names of each field in the contact record are listed first. Each subsequent row lists a customer’s contact details. As you can see, you don’t need to be an IT specialist to work with CSV files. It is a plain-text file that a layperson can read. 


CSV files can be imported and exported between systems that store data in tables, such as CRM. The easy-to-read format makes checking for errors straightforward, although it is time-consuming. 



How to Create a CSV file


Most CRMs allow you to export data to a CSV file with the press of a button. Otherwise, the data can be entered manually using a spreadsheet application (such as Excel or Google Sheets) and then saved as a CSV file. 


Once you have your data in a CSV file, check your CRM’s import requirements. The following conditions are typical:



  1. Match the names for fields, objects, and other entities. This is called data mapping. For example, the legacy CRM may use the term “client” where the new system uses the term “customer.” Your legacy and target systems must speak the same ‘language’ for the data to migrate.


  1. Use the correct data values and formats. For example, this could mean translating all your dates into a numeric form or transferring data from AM/PM time to a 24-hour clock format. Your target CRM will give detailed instructions for how the data must be represented. 


  1. Make a note of the required fields in the new system and ensure they are complete. Incomplete records will not migrate. 


  1. Check the target CRM system’s limitations on file size, along with the number of sheets, columns, and rows it can accept. 


These steps give you a general idea of how to prepare the data for import. Your target CRM will offer more detailed instructions. 



How to Migrate a CSV file in CRM


Each CRM will have its unique procedure for importing a CSV file. Generally, you will save several CSV files organized by the object. In CRM, an object is one of the overriding categories by which data is collected. For example, in HubSpot, all data falls under four objects: contacts, companies, deals, and tickets. So, you would create a CSV file for each one of those categories. 


To migrate your data, navigate to your chosen object in the target CRM. In most CRMs, there will be an import button through which you upload the CSV file. 



Is CSV Migration Right for Your Business?


Not sure whether this is the best approach for your company? Here’s a breakdown of the pros and cons of CSV data migration:



CSV Strengths:



-No technical expertise needed

-Good for tight budgets 


CSV Weaknesses:



-Not suitable for large data sets


-Not all data can be migrated



Bottom Line:


The simplicity of a CSV data migration is its biggest draw and its biggest drawback. Its simplicity means almost anyone can use it. However, it also means a narrow approach that cannot handle large and complex data sets. CSV files will work best when the legacy and target CRMs are relatively similar. 



Data Migration Tools


Data migration tools automate the migration process. No coding or expertise is required. There’s no need to download and upload the files yourself. It is a relatively hands-free process. The migration tool will extract the data in your legacy system and transform it into a compatible format for the target CRM.


Users will need to prepare their data beforehand. This involves cleaning the data and getting rid of any incomplete, inaccurate, or obsolete records. 


The tool will automatically map your data to the new system, renaming the objects, fields, and entities as needed. You still need to be familiar with both CRMs to know how your data will fit into the target system. Figure out whether you need to add any custom fields or entities before beginning the migration. 



Choosing the Right Data Migration Tool


choosing approach


With so many data migration tools on the market, it can be hard to know which one is right for your business. A few characteristics to look for are: 


Trial Migration: Choose a migration tool that lets you run a sample migration of your data before committing to the product.


Customer Support: Even though these tools are designed for non-specialists, data migration is a complicated task. You want to have access to an expert if you run into any obstacles. 


Customization: All migration tools offer a data mapping template. The best tools also let you customize as needed.


Insurance: Some data migration tools offer insurance plans. If you’re not happy with the result, you’ll get another chance to migrate your data.


Quality Assurance: Sometimes, problems with a data migration don’t show up until later when the new CRM system has been fully onboarded. You’ll want to find a company that guarantees their product’s quality versus abandoning their clients when the migration is completed. 



Is a Data Migration Tool the Best Approach?


Data migration tools make quick and easy data migration work, but they’re not for every business. Before buying, consider the strengths and weaknesses of this data migration strategy: 



Data Migration Tool Strengths:



-No technical expertise needed

-Good for tight budgets 

-Less prone to human error


Data Migration Tool Weaknesses:


-Not ideal for complex use cases

-Not all CRMs are compatible



Bottom Line:


Migration tools are a handy option for people who understand their data and have a vision for how it should work for them in their new CRM system. The automatic mapping makes migration a breeze, but it can mean fewer customization options. It’s more expensive than using your CRM’s native migration tool but remains an affordable solution. 



Custom Data Migration


A custom migration can move data between any CRM platform, and the customization options are virtually endless. 


Finding the right vendor can be a challenge. Fortunately, many CRMs will recommend a third-party vendor. For instance, HubSpot has a Solutions Partner Program, which ranks high-quality service providers. You can also read user reviews in their app store. 



Custom Migration Services


Once you find the right data migration partner, you can expect the following services:


Data Cleansing: A data expert will help you locate all your data, clean it up, and make it compatible with the target CRM. You can be sure nothing gets left behind in data-siloes, and you only migrate the data you need.


Strategic Planning: You know your business goals–but you may be unsure how your new system can help you achieve them. A right migration expert will be fluent in many CRM systems. They can ensure you make full use of the CRMs functionality.


Data Testing: The migration team should continue testing for accuracy a few weeks after the migration. This gives you time to fully onboard the new system and uncovers any potential problems in the data. 



Should You Invest in a Custom Migration?


Custom migration projects are the priciest option, so be sure it’s the right approach for you before investing.


Custom Migration Strengths:


-Hands-off Approach

-Completed by data migration experts

-Fully customizable

-The best option for complex use cases 

-Quality assurance and testing

-All CRMs accepted


Custom Migration Weaknesses:


-Most expensive approach 



Bottom Line:


In terms of ease, accuracy, and peace of mind, custom data migration cannot be beaten. You can leave the hard work to a dedicated expert who will ensure your data is mapped correctly and fully customized to meet your business goals. 



Choosing the Right Data Migration Strategy


steps choosing to go up


Each data migration approach comes with its advantages and disadvantages. Taking a good look at your data, CRM systems, and business needs will help you find the right migration solution for your business. 


Still can’t decide what approach is best for you? Trujay is a global leader in data migration. Schedule a consultation with one of our data experts today.