So you’ve decided to invest in a brand new CRM system. Given that most CRM systems are customized to some degree, moving data from any source to target system has many issues.
Please note that these articles are only about data migration. CRM system design is a different subject altogether.
This is also not a step by step guide. It is really just to describe some (and not all) of the challenges that you may face, as well as some examples to show how a migration framework could work.
Migration frameworks cannot be purchased off the shelf or downloaded, but rather a combination of working out an approach that works for your business scenario and matching that with the appropriate technologies that address that approach. You need to consider a good number of aspects before you even begin to think technically about it. The conceptual areas below may help with this.
1. High Level Steps
Conceptually you can have three steps:
Step 1: Source can be any data repository you have. An Excel spreadsheet, an existing CRM system, a data warehouse, etc. Additionally you can have multiple sources required for a migration.
Step 2: Stage is where you consolidate, massage, enhance and prepare your data sets for loading.
Step 3: Target is where the data ends up
It is worth noting the Step 2 can be optional. If your source data is of acceptable quality, your transformation requirements are simple and your ETL tool has enough functionality then you could just go from Source to Target.
2. Master Data
Does your source CRM contain all of your master data? What if it needs to be combined with other data such as a separate system that manages products? What if other departments in your company want to maintain their own master lists of customer information?
3. Multiple Source Systems
It is common to merge multiple systems together into the new CRM. For example your company has acquired another, and you want to use this opportunity to consolidate your customer systems. You will need to think of merging rules, such as what to do when the same distinct customer exists in both systems and which data come first? Do you accept that the ‘losing’ data source will not be used?
4. Change Deltas / Cutover Plan
Data may not always migrate cleanly in a CRM system. For example, an Opportunity may be in an open state and be waiting for further workflow actions. Is it a good idea to move it now or wait for it to close? Moving it now is the quickest way forward, but may lose your business valuable opportunities if now migrated correctly. Waiting for it to close means maintaining your old CRM system and then migrating the delta, which may itself be complicated to work out (i.e. a Contact details could be updated in both old and new systems whilst the related Opportunity remains open. Which has primacy?).
5. Difference in Data Structures
Many consultancies will direct you to not consider the design of your old CRM system when building your new CRM system, but rather ‘focus on the business outcome’ desired for the upgrade. This is all fine in theory, but legacy data structures were created for a reason (even bad ones) and you will probably find that you will either have compromise the amount of data each structure brings across, or invest heavily in ETL techniques to achieve full data.
6. Data Completeness and Business Buy In
Realistically you are not going to migrate 100% of the data to be found in your legacy CRM system. Do try and do so would incur a considerable cost, and probably impact the effectiveness of your new CRM by filling it with low value data. It is better to identify the key data sets early and get agreement with what you are leaving out. For example, does the new CRM require customer records that have been disabled? By reducing the scope of the data to be migrated you are increasing the chances of a successful migration.