CRMs rely on organized, up-to-date, high-quality data to deliver the benefits they are meant to, meaning that at one point or another, you will need to perform a Salesforce data migration. This might be to improve or maintain the accessibility of your existing data, as part of a system upgrade, to maintain accuracy after process changes, or a variety of other reasons.
In this article, we discuss the steps involved in a migration, some best practices to abide by, and provide some guidance on maintaining accuracy, integrity, and accessibility during the migration process.
Why You Might Need to Migrate Data in Salesforce?
Implementing upgrades: You may be upgrading to a new system or platform and need to migrate your info. Coming from another CRM tool to Salesforce, for example, or upgrading to a new Salesforce product.
Changes in some business workflows: There may be some changes in your business processes and the way your data is organized. You may have to implement a migration in order to adapt to the new changes.
Integrating different systems: In some cases, you may want to combine different solutions in your setup, like software systems, in order to consolidate your infrastructure into one streamlined solution.
Mergers and acquisitions: Migration is often needed when changes like mergers or acquisitions happen. Data from the previously separate entities has to be consolidated and integrated into a unified system.
Data clean-up: Organizations may also want to improve quality by fixing issues with the quality of their existing data – problems like inconsistent, inaccurate, duplicated, or incomplete data.
Compliance reasons: Organizations may need to migrate data to avoid falling foul of regulatory requirements whenever new or updated laws affect storage, processing, and other management practices.
Salesforce Data Migration Plan
A detailed migration plan is a crucial part of the migration process. It sets out the path to success and is your guarantee that the migration aligns with the organization’s objectives, and is understood by all stakeholders.
The experience of your migration partner will play a crucial role here as they can draw from prior experience to help you maximize the use of your resources, get better results, and set realistic expectations.
Planning and Preparation
This is the first stage and will set the stage for the success of the migration. Here, you will identify potential challenges, determine what resources you will need for the project, and ensure that the migration project is adequately understood in terms of its scope, from start to finish.
Understanding your data
Here, you examine the existing data, its structure, quality and the relationships between objects. Make assessments for gaps or inconsistencies, and work out the structure in the new Salesforce environment.
Identifying the scope and objectives
Clearly set out what will be involved in the migration, and what the expected outcome will be. Specifically which objects, records, and relationships need to be moved? What should take priority and be done first? Also define the main aims that should be addressed during the process. If you’re setting up for regulatory compliance, for example, clearly state what the criteria to be fulfilled are.
Creating a migration plan
At this stage, you will want to set timelines, identify the milestones that will show progress, earmark resources that the project will require, and assign responsibilities for different tasks to establish accountability.
Preparing for potential roadblocks
While a good, comprehensive plan will help to insulate you from problems while your migration is under way, it is still a good idea to plan for possible unforeseen challenges. Think about things like the possible need for cleansing should it turn out that your data quality isn’t up to scratch. Plan for the possibility of problems in user adoption of the new system, technical issues like hardware incompatibility, and scope creep – when the project needs grow until they start to exceed planned resources.
Making a backup
To be prepared for the possible event of data loss, make a complete backup before beginning the migration.
Data Mapping and Cleaning
Your original records need to find their place in the new system. this will not happen automatically. You need a well organized plan for how you will map your old data onto new fields in the new system. During that process you can take some steps to ensure that the data that’s being placed in your new environment is clean and accurate.
Mapping the source and destination fields
This is a process of correctly linking the source data being moved to the correct fields in the destination. For example, a field named “CustomerID” in the source system might be mapped to the “AccountID” field in Salesforce. Create a mapping document that serves as a guide for defining these connections.
Cleaning the source data
Before the transfer, any inconsistencies, inaccuracies, or duplicates must be identified and resolved. Look for duplicate entries, misspelled, absent, or inconsistent data, and other quality issues.
Standardizing data formats
Here, you want to ensure that formats such as dates are consistent in both the source and destination fields. Your date formats for example, might wreak havoc if in one system you use “MM/DD/YYYY” and in another “DD/MM/YYYY”.
Data Extraction and Loading
This is the process of pulling data from a source system, converting it to a compatible format, and loading it into the destination Salesforce environment without loss or corruption in the process.
The extraction phase of the process typically involves converting the source data into a Salesforce-compatible format. You then define the period for which you need to export, based on the scope and goals of the migration.
You may have to make adjustments like modifying formats, converting date formats, or adjusting field lengths to ensure compatibility.
Testing and Validation
This involves reviewing the accuracy, integrity, and quality of the data after migration and reducing the risk of mistakes or loss.
Verifying the accuracy of data
With the data loaded in the new system, you now have to check its veracity. Here are some methods you could use:
- Spot checks: Check a random sample of records to see if the transfer process has not introduced inaccuracies. Verify that all relationships, types, and formats have been maintained.
- Compare the source and destination for any discrepancies or inconsistencies. Tools like Salesforce’s Data Loader, DBCompare, and even Microsoft Excel’s VLOOKUP functionality can all help you carry out this task.
- Test cases: Devise test cases that cover various aspects of the migrated data, such as field-level accuracy, record counts, and relationship integrity.
Ensuring data integrity
After verifying accuracy, you want to remain sure of its consistency and reliability not only throughout the life of the new system, but also during the migration process itself. and ensure data integrity is preserved.
Do this by performing tests that validate your Business Rules and Workflows, and the relationships between records. Also establish governance policies that outline the responsibilities, processes, and standards.
Also train your Salesforce users to maintain consistency and quality across the system.
These are things you do to ensure the stability of your Salesforce system after migration.
Communicating the migration to stakeholders
Let your team members, managers, and end-users know that the migration is complete. Share information about changes to the system, new features, and how existing processes may have changed after the migration.
Conducting user training
Train your end-users on any new features, processes, and structures, and on how to use the updated Salesforce system.
Establishing ongoing data management practices
To maintain the quality and integrity of your data over time, implement data management practices like:
- Frequently carrying out audits to address quality issues
- Defining responsibilities, processes, and standards in your organization.
- Setting up validation rules and automating quality checks to guarantee accuracy, consistency, and completeness.
- Monitoring system performance and user adoption
- Regular support and maintenance
Data Migration Best Practices: Checklist
Here is a set of best practices that can help you ease the migration process, and mitigate against the risks that come with migration, like errors and loss.
- Keep the Data Clean. Clean and standardize source data before migration, resolve inconsistencies, and implement validation rules to enforce quality.
- Create a Backup. Before the migration process, back up your source data securely. Ensure you keep it separate from the working data during the migration.
- Stick to the Plan. Define the scope and objectives of the migration, allocate resources and set a timeline, think about potential problems, and make arrangements to mitigate against them.
- Have a Reliable Salesforce Partner. Bring in a Salesforce partner with expertise and experience, like OMI. Look for a partner with a track record of successful migrations, who will help you ensure that the migration process is executed correctly and efficiently.
You want a partner that can demonstrate that they have the expertise to help you with every stage of the project, including processes like mapping, cleaning, extraction, loading, and validation.
A company like OMI would be a great fit – a company that offers a full range of Salesforce-related services from consulting, to development, implementation, integration, and administration.
You will want a company that has the technical know-how and experience from various types of projects involving tasks like creating smooth flows across applications, implementing single user access and business process automation, and more.
Data is what makes businesses tick, and well-organized data brings benefits that translate to significant advantages for any company. The time inevitably comes round when you have to perform a Salesforce data migration. This could be as a result of changing business conditions, the need to keep improving, and many other reasons.
By adhering to the best practices we have outlined – creating a detailed migration plan, keeping data clean, testing and validating the migrated data you can significantly improve the success of your migration project.
Enhance the success of your migration by partnering with a trusted Salesforce partner, such as OMI Salesforce Services. You get expert support, resources, and maintenance and support, to help you ensure a smooth and efficient migration process.