The Biggest CRM Migration Mistake That Companies Can Make

by InaPlex on December 19, 2017

This article originally appeared on InaPlex's Blog.

Why can CRM migrations be so difficult?

As any seasoned CRM consultant knows, when you’re migrating from one CRM system to another there are plenty of things that can go wrong, even if you’re just upgrading from a really old version to a new one.

The fundamental problem is that client details in the old CRM system are often structured differently in the new system, potentially creating all sorts of data transfer issues.

Take for example CRM systems that are arranged by contact name rather than by company, which is known as a customer-centric approach and is common in many legacy CRM systems. Company-centric systems, on the other hand, define the company as an entity so that it’s easier to track activities at a company level. Many migrations involve moving from a contact-centric model to a company-centric one.

This is not a straightforward change, however, and data needs to be prepared prior to transfer, for instance by making sure company names are standardized and that all contacts are linked to the correct company name. If customer details are moved across without this preparation, many benefits of the new system can be lost.

Another problem area is drop down lists, or pick lists, which affect the way that customer details are categorized. The categories in the new system can be completely different, so it’s important to have the new pick lists defined and mapped before any information is moved.

There are also customer details that are difficult to transfer because of their complex structure. Typical examples are history and notes as these are made up of many types of activities – client status, calls, meetings, to-dos, and so on. These activities frequently change in the new system so mapping from old activities to new ones is often difficult. Emails can also be tricky as different CRM systems may support different email formats making it a challenge to migrate old emails to the new system.

These examples demonstrate the importance of understanding the format of information in the legacy system relative to the data structure and setup of the new CRM system. If data is moved without appreciating and addressing these differences, the migration will be a failure.

So, how do you make sure a CRM migration isn’t a failure?

The best way to ensure a successful CRM migration is to take advantage of experience. The biggest mistake we see in CRM migrations is using the wrong people.  Knowledgeable, experienced consultants can advise on a migration, or manage it all for you. They understand problem areas and how to overcome them, have tools that facilitate the customer data mapping and matching, and can safely run trial migrations to make sure the final data transfer is correct.

There are many documents and checklists available to help with a CRM migration; however, nothing substitutes for getting assistance from the right people. A badly managed migration costs in many ways – money, time, missed opportunities, poor implementation – so there is tremendous value in getting it right the first time round. If a company decides to upgrade to a new CRM system, aligning with experienced professionals is definitely the best way of ensuring a successful migration, at the best possible price.

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