In this day and age, when every company realizes the importance of business processes optimization, CRM data migration often turns up at the top of businesses’ agendas. Firms migrate from one system to another looking for integration of several tools into one. They might also seek ways to automate specific processes or deploy a more flexible CRM.

Regardless of the reasons, CRM data migration is a tough question that businesses need to tackle with caution. It’s best when management and tech specialists draft the migration checklist together.

CRM Data Migration

What is a CRM Migration?

Let’s make sure we are on the same page terms-wise and have the same answer to this question. Does it mean that companies need to transfer their existing solution in its entirety to a new software infrastructure? Well, yes and no.

In reality, what moves from an old CRM to a new one is data: companies’ customer records that bear the real business value in any CRM solution. And when we talk about CRM migration, what we imply is transferring data from one platform to another or from on-premise solution to the cloud.

So if someone asks you what CRM migration is, you know the answer: it’s all about a data migration plan. The legacy CRM stays as is, and its data is copied over to a new system.

Benefits of CRM Migration

Now you know the definition of CRM migration. However, you might still have doubts about whether you need to approach it or not. Businesses decide to shift to new solutions for various reasons; it can be a low performance of their current CRM platform, insufficient support, or high maintenance cost.

Some systems can’t offer enough connectivity with other enterprise tools, or they can miss essential features that daily operations require. Whatever the case is, migrating to a new CRM solution entails a number of benefits. Let’s quickly outline them below:

On top of that, implementing a new CRM tool in accordance with the checklist of all business requirements often results in cost reduction and faster ROI.

Data Migration Best Practices

Before moving to our step-by-step guide, let us dwell on the most common CRM data migration best practices.

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  1. The most popular practice is to deploy a migration tool that will handle the entire process automatically. There are several solutions of this sort on the market. Unfortunately, they work only for moving data between very similar CRMs, which is a rare case.

  2. Another way to migrate data into a new CRM is to upload a previously exported data file through the user interface. The success will depend on whether the new CRM can handle parsing the data exported from the legacy platform on its own.

  3. Finally, the most efficient way to move data between two CRMs is by developing a custom script or software migration tool. All data gets transferred via API calls. This variant works exceptionally well when the source CRM includes integration with third-party solutions that need to become a part of a new CRM.

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Being the most effective, migration via API, is also the most hardcore method for CRM data migration. Share on X

It often implies the development of custom elements in the target CRM. In short, this approach calls for a team of qualified specialists. Unsurprisingly, API-driven CRM migration is one of the most popular practices offered by professional CRM development and implementation companies.

10-Step CRM Data Migration Guide

We will be mostly looking at the third method, when CRM migration is carried out via API integration. It requires considerably more effort and has some pitfalls that we will help you to avoid. So here’s our comprehensive checklist:

1. Get the Team Ready for the Change

Getting all decision makers on-board with the move to a new CRM is vital for two reasons. First of all, they will be providing a business perspective, e.g., what fields can go away, or what new fields should appear in the target CRM.

Secondly, they will be the most evident users of the system and may become the most rigorous testers spotting some missed data or other glitches after the process has been finished.

CRM Data Migration - Planning

2. Review the Source and Target CRM

While reviewing the source CRM or other legacy solutions you need to identify the exact use cases of how you and your employees use the platform. The use cases will often dictate what data, fields, etc. will move to a new CRM.

Undoubtedly, there will be some outdated parameters that do not need to go into the new system.

Clearly, after reviewing the source CRM, you need to find all the necessary fields and entities in the target CRM. It will need to provide the “place” for the data.

3. Spend More Time on Data Mapping

Mapping data is the most intricate process in CRM data migration projects. Keep in mind that you should transfer all entities into the new platform in their entirety.

It means that if you acquired a customer Ben Hopkins during an email marketing campaign, he has gone through the sales pipeline in two weeks, and now resides in the “Loyal Customers” group, etc. – all of this data should be available in the new CRM for the migrated Ben Hopkins.

The task of putting the data map together becomes even more complicated when you deal with several solutions that need to integrate into a single CRM. Share on X

The same Ben Hopkins might have open tickets in your support system, which is also a subject for data migration.

Make sure that after transferring a single record into the target CRM you still have all its surrounding data from all your integrated legacy solutions.

4. Compare CRM Structures

The structure of a CRM should conform to the data that you will be migrating into it. Spend some time to examine all custom fields in your current CRM. Will you need all of them in the target CRM?

It may be the case that these custom fields will be offered in the new CRM out-of-the-box, or replaced by other means.

Some data from your legacy solution will take a different form in the new platform. It’s a great chance to take a closer look at some of your “flat” data and add to it a dimension by attributing tags for example.

CRM Data Migration - Scripting

5. Create Migration Tool

The most technically challenging task, of course, is to develop the tool or a script that will automatically migrate all data into the new platform. CRM migration service providers should be able to assist you with this.

A professional team of CRM developers will carefully think through the migration algorithms and elaborate an error detection mechanism, as well as many other components that make up a practical migration tool.

6. Secure a Data Backup

There’s no such thing as too much caution when it comes to data. You should create a backup of all data from your legacy solutions before you proceed to CRM data migration. Share on X

Our word of advice is to shy away from a development partner who doesn’t mention data backup in their CRM migration plan. Many things can go astray during the project, and losing your data is the last thing you want to happen.

7. Run a Couple of Tests

CRM data migration projects may turn into real havoc if you decide to transfer all data in one take. It’s better to run a couple of trial migrations with several different samples of data. Do not be afraid of any errors, as it will help your tech team to improve their porting tool before they move all data into the new system.

This approach is excellent for integrating several complex solutions into a single CRM when the data has a multilevel hierarchy and links to many objects.

CRM Data Migration - Execution

8. Migrate the CRM Data

After iterating on several test data migration rounds, it is finally time to migrate the whole data from the legacy CRM, or a range of solutions, into a new one. You are sure to find this step the most pleasing as it involves pressing a button “Migrate” and waiting for a “Successfully Migrated!” dialog to appear.

Of course, there might be some issues during the final migration. Mainly when you work with many disparate systems that might not function well at the time of import. Therefore, a team of CRM developers will be essential during the entire process.

9. Clean up Migrated Data

Look for any inconsistencies in the migrated data during the first couple of days of using the new CRM. You may find some duplicates, missing pieces, or other overlooked details.

10. Train Your Employees

As with all new tools, getting used to their way of functioning is the most time-consuming process. Shorten this period by providing your personnel with adequate training right after you complete migrating all data.

As soon as all your employees understand how to use the new CRM platform, you are well-positioned for increasing the productivity of your business processes.

Pitfalls to Avoid

Custom Fields in the Source CRM

Pay particular attention to all custom fields in the source CRM and see if you can find appropriate substitutes for them in the new CRM. Share on X

There is a high chance the new platform will have additional fields for integrating the custom data elements.

Alternatively, ask the company that provides you with data migration services to add custom elements into the new tool.

Missed Data

When combing through your current solutions, always check if they have some archived data that is not visible in the UI. It may be useful later on for building reports, etc.

Your CRM development team should spot such archived data during the test data migrations. It will pop up as a series of “random” errors. However, drawing CRM developers’ attention to this from the start will save time and efforts for optimization of the migration tool.

Lack of Collaboration

As we’ve already mentioned, getting all stakeholders involved in the process of migration is highly important. CRM serves as a centralized source of all communications, unifying efforts of various departments and boosting the collaboration of different teams.

That’s why it is essential that the requirements of all user groups are taken into account so everyone can benefit from a better solution in the end. Make sure the process is transparent and that all possible issues can be addressed quickly.

Migrating Everything at Once

It’s easier to face difficulties and make some errors when you try to handle everything at once. Since there is a large number of sensitive data sets to take into account, it requires a thorough approach.

The best way to avoid any issues is to carefully plan the process and break it into steps that you can manage one by one. Especially if you have several systems and interconnected data that you need to migrate into a single solution.

Shortage of Expertise

It might seem an easy endeavor to move all of your data from one CRM to another. However, the process contains plenty of nuances that can cause issues like data loss if ignored. Choose a reliable and experienced partner that will help you cope with any challenges and guide you along every step of the journey.

Ready to Make a Move?

Velvetech’s team has completed multiple CRM data migration projects for various platforms: from Salesforce and SugarCRM to HubSpot and Creatio. Our professional services include data migration from a single legacy platform or an array of third-party solutions.

Take a look at one of the case studies when Velvetech has helped a telesales company with migration from their legacy in-house CRM.

Velvetech’s team will be happy to assist you. Get in touch to discuss the specifics of your project.

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