Whether you’ve decided to move from one CRM platform to another or you’re taking the leap from spreadsheets to a CRM, there are a couple of things you can do to ease the pain of migrating your data. 

Begin with the end in mind. Data migration should begin long before the actual transfer from one (or several) data source(s) to the CRM. As you collect data today, think about how you might use it tomorrow, i.e. what types of reports you may want to extract, what data points you may to analyze, and what types of decisions you may want to make. Once you do that, you can start to align the data fields from the sources with the data fields in the CRM. 

Standardize data entry. Try to make the data in your sources as “clean” and as compatible as possible. Think about ways to avoid duplicate or incorrect entries before the transfer by:

  • Creating rules about how data is entered (no entries in all upper case letters, no abbreviations, or initials in place of company names, for example) so that duplicate data can be more easily detected.
  • Using “pick lists” to narrow down the type and manner in which data can be entered in the source.
  • Building online forms that automatically align data with the appropriate fields in the CRM. 

Get context from users. When mapping fields from one database to another, allow the individuals who will use the data to weigh in on where the data should go and what the workflows will be. Flowing data from one platform into another without context can make the data in your CRM less usable.

Use humans and machines to regularize data. The larger the data set, the more difficult it is to manually catch data errors, inconsistencies, duplicates and field mismatches. However, that doesn’t mean that you should leave the regularization of the data entirely to the machines. Use automated methods for the bulk of the migration work and common-sense human observation to ensure correctness.

Migrating data into a CRM requires planning, communication, and supervision. It’s much more than pushing a few buttons. More thought on the front end of the process will lead to less work on the back end.


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