Overcoming the Pitfalls in CRM Migration of Relations
CRM data migration has become an urgent issue bothering businesses that fight for competitiveness and improvement of customer relationships. Along with the extending number of CRM solutions, the modes and means of data transfer are growing too. Some of them are complicated and require technical background while others simple and automated. Nevertheless, there raises a new question that is vital for all companies - what about the migration of relations between the records? The process of data transfer is a resource-intensive activity, but organizations aren’t ready to waste their time on trying to figure out the mess of disconnected and unrelated records in the database. Following this issue, let’s pay closer attention to the process of crafting CRM migration project for both cases: CSV importing and API-based data transfer.
Building Up A Plan of Data Transfer
The initiation of CRM transfer starts with the planning, defining the value level of records and distribution of the roles and responsibilities, as well as establishing communication between the stakeholders and departments. The next step is to determine what you will migrate and develop an understanding of record characteristics. After verifying capabilities of your destination CRM capabilities, you should decide what migration mode to use - file import (for this you have to choose the format of records) or API-based transfer. In the process of establishing a data switch approach, you have to figure out 3 aspects:
- ensure the quality of your database (prepare records and clean them),
- make a test migration and validate the results, and
- develop and test rollback strategy.
And the finalizing stage is the data transfer itself including the migration of relations between the records. This part of your CRM initiative also should deal with results validation, qualify the condition of data and proceed to business processes setting up.
Migration of Relations from Import And API Perspectives
Switching from a legacy to a destination, CRM means not just a simple records transfer, but rather a complex process of migrating data and its internal relations. Different entities have a different kind of connection with each other or no direct correlation at all. The environment of relations is quite varying. Here are a few samples of record relations:
- contact > company > user_id
- opportunity > contact > account > user_id
- deal > company
- task > company
- task > contact, as well as contact > task
Note that the company has no connection with the task, yet the task is tied to the account. It also should be mentioned that account (user_id) has a minimal amount of relations. Now let’s take a deeper dive into the migration process. CRM vendors enable their solutions with importing options (Insightly, Zoho, Solve CRM, etc.) or data loader tools (Microsoft Dynamics CRM, Salesforce, Oracle, etc.)
- #1 File importing supplied by CRM allows you to transfer a particular set of entities. Usually, the list is following (yet it may vary depending on the capabilities and tools granted by the CRM vendor):
- contact notes
- organization details
- #2 Data loader is a third-party tool for importing data in CSV files into a CRM solutions that support it. As a rule, some CRM vendors have one particular tool for uploading records. By its functionality, this method resembles the importing option. Thus, it doesn’t provide the automated retaining of record relations.
- #3 API-based migration offered by automated web-based services excludes the requirement in CSV file backups, adding additional fields and manual uploading child records to the parent entity.
Quite a fair number of entities, but far not every importing tool enables the migration of relations between the records. Those solutions that offer this capability requires a specific fixed order of CSV file uploading: organizations > contacts > opportunities > projects > tasks. If you change the required sequence, the relations won’t restore and in the end, you will get a messy, inconsistent database.
Another drawback of the file importing is the long form of options during the fields mapping out process. Besides, the deduplication function will check out all your contacts by the email address, and the other fields of the copies will be over-written in the existing data. Since you don’t import to the fields, bear in mind the fact that data for this particular contact won’t be switched.
In case, your destination CRM import deprived you of relation restoring. You should start with the organizations importing, as most of the records are linked to this entity, and upload each connected record manually. In Zoho, for instance, you have to upload campaigns and then migrate the leads, contacts, tasks, notes, etc. of this very campaign separately.
Nevertheless, the migration of relations is possible. Here is the sample of Salesforce data loader. Before backing up your data in CSV files, you need to add an extra field for parent accounts. This specific ID should be added to all child records connected to this very account. Apparently, the parent entities must be uploaded first, and then you have to map out manually child records account id into Account.SourceAcctID field. Pay attention to the fact that data loader has a limitation on the CSV file size (number of rows).
You define your access credentials to the source and targeted CRM solutions and service automatedly, without any side interference, migrates your records and retains the relations between the data, owners, and users profiles. API-based transfer saves a lot of time, efforts and helps to avoid mistakes or incorrect parent-child record connections.
Import vs. API: Drawing Up A Line
File importing appears as a fast and straightforward mode of transfer, but it hides a set of pitfalls. CSV import has no automated relations retaining as a standard feature and may require an additional manual uploading. Data loaders complicate the large size CSV files to import, require extra field for restoring relationships and specific mapping out. And the last but not least option is API-based migration supplies a direct and fast switch with retaining all the connections between records without extra fields or manual uploading. Having this outlook on the CRM migration peculiarities, you will make a well-thought choice of your CRM transfer.
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