Data Migration: The Key to a successful CRM Implementation

CRM Jan 24, 2022

It's no secret that customers are probably a business's most valuable asset. Look at it this way, if there weren't any customers, there wouldn't be any revenue, and, by implication, no business. The problem is that managing customer data can get complicated. Sure, for just a few customers, it shouldn't be that hard. But, when one multiplies the number of customers tenfold or a hundredfold, it becomes increasingly complex.

To allow businesses to effectively manage their customers, they use a CRM system. This system keeps all their customer data in one place. It allows them to manage this data and all customer interactions from one platform. Essentially, a good CRM is vital to any business.

Sometimes businesses need to move to a new CRM. This could be for a variety of reasons. For one, their old CRM may not work for their needs anymore. Or maybe they've found a new CRM that offers them more value and more features. This is quite common nowadays when businesses move their CRMs from an on-site solution to a cloud-based one during their digital transformation strategies. Irrespective of the reason, when this happens, a CRM data migration will be necessary. But what is a CRM data migration, and how does it work? This post looks at this process in more detail.

What is Data Migration?

The simple definition for a CRM data migration is that it's the process of moving data from one CRM system to another. This may sound simple, but it's actually a challenging and intricate process that requires a lot of strategic planning to make sure that the process runs as smoothly as possible. With that in mind, what are some of the things businesses should look at when they migrate their data?

Look at Legacy Use Cases

Often, one of the first steps that businesses should take in the data migration process is to look at the legacy use cases of the current system. In other words, a business will need to understand the specific functionality that users are used to. This will, for instance, include uses like integrated email, automation, and the user interface. With this in mind, it's essential to understand that new systems will not necessarily have all the current system's functionality. It could also be that it has the functionality, but in a different implementation. As a result, businesses will need to look at the new system and consider implementing it to give it the same functionality.

This will ultimately lay the data migration process's foundation and play a role in the data mapping. Through this process, businesses will also identify any areas where customization of the new system may be necessary to fit in with their business needs and requirements.

Be Clear About Change

One thing businesses need to understand when implementing a new CRM is that their employees have probably been using the old one for some time. As a result, it becomes difficult to convince people to move to a new CRM when they've been using an existing system for so long. They're probably comfortable with all its nuances and workflows. It is, therefore, necessary for businesses to properly prepare everyone in the organization for the new system.

If they're not prepared, this will lead to a drop in productivity and efficiency when the new system is implemented. Even worse, it could lead to lower adoption rates of the system and a total rejection of it. In simple terms, businesses must make sure that everyone is fully aware that a new system will be implemented and that employees receive training well before the time to make sure that there is no loss of productivity.

Understand the Structural Differences in CRMs

The next step in the process is defining the data elements that need to be moved over to the new system. This is important because it's not necessarily the case that all data needs to be moved over. As such, there may be some legacy data that will not need to be migrated to the new CRM. Once the data elements are defined, businesses should understand the structural differences between the old and new CRMs. In other words, businesses should compare how the data is structured in the old system compared to the new system. For example, some legacy data will be different from the new CRM, while custom fields will need to be defined for other pieces of data in the old CRM.

Another critical aspect that businesses should consider here is the migration of attachments. This is simply because customer data often have large amounts of attachments that accompany them. So, it's necessary to see how these will fit into the new system. The data structure is an essential part of the process. If businesses manage to migrate their data structures to fit in with the new CRM, they've already laid the foundation for a successful data migration.

Data Quality

After comparing the new and old CRM data structures, it's necessary to do a data quality assessment. In simple terms, this process entails analyzing the old data, keeping the data that matters most to the business, and doing away with any data they will no longer use. Often, businesses will add missing data entries during this process, eliminate any duplicate records, and fix inconsistent data while maintaining a proper flow of the data.The key takeaway is that migrating quality data to the new CRM sets the implementation up for success.

Data Mapping

After the above steps, businesses will know which data needs to be migrated, and they'll have a quality set of data. The next step in the process is data mapping. This is one of the most important but also most intricate steps of the process. 

But why is this so important? For example, suppose a customer made contact with the business through a marketing campaign, and over time moved from, for example, a "Potential Customers" group to a "Loyal Customer" group. In other words, in the old CRM, this customer resides in a specific group. When migrating to the new CRM, this customer must stay in this group. This information in the old system would then need to be mapped to the new system.

Now add to this the fact that the customer sent an email or opened a support ticket recently. This will also need to be carried over to the new system. And this has to be done for every customer in the CRM. In simple terms, it's vital to migrate all the data precisely and consistently to the right groups in the new CRM and that all related data be carried over as well. For this reason, data mapping is crucial to the success of a CRM project.

Migrating the Data

When the data mapping is complete, teams can start with the migration process. But this isn't just as simple as migrating all the data at once. This opens the door to several risks and increases the possibility of data loss in the process. Because of this, some preparation steps need to be taken before the data is migrated. The first step is that the data should be backed up. Businesses often think that they have planned their CRM data migration properly and that there won't be any failures. This is a mistake.By doing a backup, businesses eliminate the risk of any data loss.

The next step is to run data migration testing. Here, businesses will be able to see whether their migration will work. Also, if anything goes wrong during testing, they'll identify and fix any issues before all the data is migrated. Once these steps are done, teams can proceed with a complete migration of all the data. Here, it's advisable to schedule the migration during weekends so that it causes minimal disruption in the business's processes which could lead to a loss of revenue.


With the CRM data now residing in the new system, verification is necessary to ensure that all the data has been migrated. Because a data migration often involves significant amounts of data, it's essential to know whether this was successful or not. If there were any errors in the migration process, it could be for a variety of reasons. For one, it could be as a result of poor-quality data or a misstep in the mapping process. The verification process allows businesses to identify these issues and fix them.

The Bottom Line

Although the CRM data migration process can be complicated, businesses can make it more streamlined by doing the necessary strategic planning and ensuring that they migrate quality data to the new system. Hopefully, this post helped illustrate some of the steps necessary to ensure a successful data migration and, ultimately, a successful CRM project.

For more information about CRM data migrations or CRM projects in general, download our free guide; A Guide to successful HubSpot CRM deployment. The practical guide covers all the steps of a successful CRM project and lists the things you need to take into account before and during the process. Click the button below to download!

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