5 Steps to a Successful Salesforce Data Migration

Data migration, involving the transfer of data from a legacy CRM system to a new Salesforce environment, can make or break a Salesforce implementation.

Due to the complexity of legacy data schemas and the lack of data literacy within many businesses, this process is far from simple. However, despite this, data migration is often the last thing decision-makers think about when introducing a new Salesforce application — leading to delays as well as poor user and customer experience.

An Experian study found that 54% of data migrations experience delays, and only 36% keep to their original budget — with 41% going over either slightly or significantly. As a result, many Salesforce data migrations are rushed and ultimately fail, contributing to lacklustre returns on investment, data compliance issues and the costly downtime of business-critical applications.

Salesforce customers want to streamline their CRM systems and optimise the platform’s benefits — not create new operational obstacles. So, what are the main challenges of a Salesforce data migration, and what can be done to overcome them?

What is involved in a Salesforce data migration?

Data migration is an intricate but essential final step in a Salesforce implementation project. And yet, many businesses underestimate the complexity of this process.

It is not just about moving customer information from A to B. Thousands — if not millions — of data points must be cleansed, mapped and validated to ensure their quality and compatibility with new business processes and functionality configured on the new platform.

Of course, this process can be messy and time-consuming, meaning it often ends up being pushed to the end of the project timeline — resulting in several headaches for the project team and implementation partners just before go-live. And the problems do not stop there…

Considering that missing, irrelevant or misleading data can result in inaccurate sales forecasting, productivity loss, compliance risk and reduced value from marketing campaigns, this is a scenario all business leaders hope to avoid.

So, with CRM data at the core of a Salesforce implementation’s success, data migration requirements must be considered from the early stages — not as an afterthought.

This is more than just a technical project. Organisations should view data migration as a strategic opportunity to tidy up their customer data and make the most out of their CRM systems — unlocking new insights, identifying automation opportunities and even discovering AI use cases.

Every Salesforce implementation is different, just as every company is different — with unique goals and processes to consider. Still, there are five steps we believe are crucial for every migration — no matter the industry or application…

Step one: identify data for migration

First and foremost, it is crucial to define and analyse existing data to understand its current structure, quality and relevance to the new system and the project’s overall aims. After all, there is no point in wasting time, money and data storage by moving redundant or outdated customer records to a new system.

Armed with a comprehensive understanding of the legacy data that needs to be shifted, project managers can develop a data migration strategy that fulfils the specific requirements of their Salesforce adoption.

Step two: cleanse existing CRM data

The success of any Salesforce data migration depends on the quality of the data being moved. As such, if legacy CRM data is currently incorrect, exists in multiple formats or is otherwise messy and unorganised, this is the time to rectify it — or risk more issues down the line.

Users already challenged by learning new functionalities and processes may be further disrupted by inaccurate data, which only slows them down. Plus, teams that manage downstream functions like finance and billing may only notice data errors weeks later, preventing them from preparing invoices and closing the month. So, in order to cleanse data, it is critical to understand how the business uses and values it today.

Project managers working closely with business operations can ensure data is in good shape before migration by removing duplicates, resolving inconsistencies, aligning with data validation rules and adhering to privacy policy requirements. These processes are crucial in the pre-migration stage but should also remain a priority after the system has been rolled out to ensure data stays relevant and up to date. 

Step three: prepare for the implementation

Next, it is time to create a data migration framework that aligns with the overall project plan, including testing and cutover schedules.

Anywhere the data migration plan is disconnected from the overall project plan is a recipe for disaster. Instead, project teams must see data as the critical additional leg to the three-legged framework of people, processes and technology — the traditional foundation for technology transformations.

Part of the preparation phase involves data mapping, which bridges the differences between two data models to ensure source data remains accurate and usable in the destination org — in this case, the Salesforce platform. The more different the models are, the more complex this process will be, but ensuring all data categories remain consistent and usable following migration is crucial.

Step four: begin the data migration process

Now that the existing CRM data has been cleansed, mapped and validated and the new data environment has been prepared for implementation, the load process can begin.

This is the last stage before the Salesforce product is finally rolled out. So, whether project managers move data all at once or iteratively in smaller chunks, it is crucial to ensure the implementation strategy includes post-migration testing and validation.

Step five: conduct ongoing data quality assessments

Sadly, the job does not end when the data migration is complete. Data quality degrades over time, so it is vital to follow an ongoing data management process to ensure all Salesforce data continues to meet quality and privacy standards. Delivering the necessary data updates and corrections to maintain and improve the user and customer experience as you evolve your functionality is crucial.

Luckily, managing and cleansing data on the Salesforce platform is significantly easier than on most legacy CRMs. Still, this is an important time to make the most of new data opportunities.

By getting a handle on data governance and automating data lifecycles, businesses and implementation partners can ensure compliance with privacy policies, efficiently meet data obligations (such as subject access requests and the right to be forgotten) and maximise user experiences.

So, for any Salesforce adopters unsure whether they have the resources to stay on top of these tasks, we suggest contacting a specialist data management partner that can…

Technicus is the data implementation partner that offers a fully managed process for data migration and data management on the Salesforce platform — taking end-to-end ownership of these processes to maximise customer experiences. Contact us at +44 (0)20 8045 0423 or info@technicus.co.uk to discuss your upcoming data project.

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