Your data is important to you. Of course its. If it wasn't you wouldn't want or need Salesforce. If you really think about it, your data is the life blood of your company. These days it is the pulse. It tells you what's working, what's not. How you've done, what you're doing now, and what might just be. You work hard to acquire it. And you would naturally be very upset if you lost it. 

So it should go without saying that extra attention and care should be taken when migrating your hard-earned data from your old system(s) into Salesforce.

Sometimes its easy, sometimes its a down-right pain in the ass. 

I thought we'd share a few insights to help make the road from your old system to Salesforce a little bit smoother. 

It all starts with Data extraction. The information you bring with you is just as important as the data you leave behind. Now is a perfect time to purge your system. You spend years collecting data. But you don't need to be a pack-rat about it. Are those records from 10 years ago really that important? If not, throw it out. 

Then create a map. If you're working with a consulting firm they can guess what should go where but not everything is obvious. So it's important to have a conversation to understand how the data should translate from one system to the next. And even if you're not working this a consulting firm this is great documentation to have in case questions arise later. Are you going to remember 6 months from now which field mapped to which? 

Along that same line, the data architecture of your old system likely won't 100% translate to the way Salesforce holds data. What dictates a lead in your old system vs a contact? Who should own the record, is it the creator of the record, or the person who logged the last activity. The list goes on and on. It's an extremely important conversation to have. Are you open to having the data represented in a different way than you are used to? Or do you want apples-to-apples to your old system. The latter won't always be possible. But you should discuss all idiosyncrasies in the way you use the old system and how you hope to use Salesforce. Salesforce is a flexible system, it might just be possible to bend it to your needs.

Complicating things, sometimes you need to migrate multiple systems onto Salesforce. What do you do with duplicates? How do you link records from one system to another? Is there a clear unique identifier, or can one be achieved by concatenating more than one field together. Does one system win over the other when there is a conflict?

Cleaning up the data can be just as important as migrating the data. And while it definitely helps to clean it up when and where you can prior to the migration, it can actually be easier to do the cleaning inside Salesforce after the migration. Especially if data is coming from disparate systems. There are wonderful 3rd-Party tools for Salesforce to help clean up duplicate records. There are means to consolidate and standardize values for various fields. 

Before any transformation of the data begins. Be sure to make a 100% complete backup of all your data. Even if you only plan on migrating part of it. Save all of it. Once the old system goes away, that's it. It's gone. And when you start to transform it to fit into Salesforce, mistakes can happen. Having a pure source to be able to fall back on is paramount. 

At the end of the day, Data Migration can be as much of an art as it is a science. And is one of the few things more than anything else that we recommend you seek external help for. It can mean the difference between success or failure moving between systems. 

In the end, no matter who helps you, no one knows your data better than you. So it will be important to review the data after migration. Does everything still make sense? Do the numbers still tell the same story? If your old system is going away, please give yourself enough time to migrate and still be able to review before you lose access.

And one final note. Time is always of the essence with data migrations. Do your due dilligence, then make sure the migration can happen smoothly, and validation can proceed quickly. The longer it takes to migrate, the bigger the gap between the old and the new system. It may make sense to put a temporary moratorium on data entry to the old system till you are live on the new. We typically try to time the migration to fall right before end-user training. If that isn't feasible and your organization deals in high volumes of data you may need to arrange for a secondary supplemental migration.

Have Questions? Leave a comment below. We will get back to you with an answer.

Know someone else who might benefit from knowing what we know? Please share us with your friends

Add Yourself to the List

We live, eat, and breath Salesforce. And we share as much as we can with those who want to learn. So join the list, I dare you. (Don't worry your email is safe with us.)