01 May 2019

CRM Data Migration Best Practices

By SS&C Salentica

For any Wealth or Asset Management firm, implementing a CRM system can be a serious challenge. It brings about changes that are happening on all levels of your organization and involves at least a stakeholder from every department. Data migration is often the lynchpin of the success or failure of any CRM implementation process. So, we set out to share some of our tips for data hygiene, deduplication, and migration.

Instead of being all doom and gloom, here are a few motivating stats that may inspire you to properly prepare your existing data, and pursue your CRM adoption:

The average ROI for CRM is $8.71 for every dollar spent.
47% of CRM users said that their CRM had a significant impact on customer retention and customer satisfaction.
74% of businesses improve customer relationships with CRM.

1. Get the Team Ready for the Change

Getting all decision-makers on board with the move to a new CRM is vital for two reasons. First of all, they will be providing a business perspective, e.g., what fields can go away, or what new fields should appear in the target CRM.

Secondly, they will be the most evident users of the system and may become the most rigorous testers spotting some missed data or other glitches after the CRM migration has been finished.

Since CRM is a project that involves all parts of an organization, top management must be not only involved but also inspire and build credibility among others. Top management drives the opinions and culture in the organization, that’s why their early involvement sends a positive ripple effect through the entire organization. So, get your leaders on board!

2. Review the Source and Target CRM

While reviewing the source CRM or other legacy solutions you need to identify the exact use cases of how you and your employees use the platform. The use cases will often dictate what data, fields, etc. will move to a new CRM.

Undoubtedly, there will be some outdated parameters of CRM entities that do not need to go into the new CRM.

Clearly, after reviewing the source CRM, you need to find all the necessary fields and entities in the target CRM. It will need to provide the “place” for the data.

3. Spend More Time on Data Mapping

Mapping data is the most intricate process in CRM data migration projects. Keep in mind that you should transfer all entities into the new CRM in their entirety.

It means that if you acquired a customer Ben Hopkins during an email marketing campaign, he has gone through the sales pipe in two weeks, and now resides in the “Loyal Customers” group, etc. – all of this data should be available in the new CRM for the migrated Ben Hopkins.

Reviewing Data Maps at a Business Level

If a developer creates a set of data maps and then imports legacy data without business-level oversight, the developer may fail to fully conform the needs of the business. It’s important for someone from the business to spend the time to review what legacy data will end up going to which areas in the new CRM system.

4. Compare CRM Structures

The structure of a CRM should conform to the data that you will be migrating into it. Spend some time to examine all custom fields in your current CRM. Will you need all of them in the target CRM?

It may be the case that these custom fields will be offered in the new CRM out-of-the-box, or replaced by other means.

Some data from your legacy solution will take a different form in the new CRM platform. It’s a great chance to take a closer look at some of your “flat” data and add to it a dimension by attributing tags for example.

5. Secure a Data Backup

Our word of advice is to shy away from a development partner who doesn’t mention data backup in their CRM migration plan. Many things can go astray during CRM migration, and losing your data is the last thing you want to happen.

6. Deciding on Cut Off Dates and Record & Field Exclusions

Here are several examples of business-level questions with regard to what data should be excluded from the migration.

If your legacy system has been in place for more than, say, ten years, should all activity history and email history be brought into the system?

If a contact record has not been edited for over, say, seven years, and has no added history records over the same amount of time, does it make sense to import that record?

If a custom field is only populated with data in a few dozen records, is that custom field needed moving forward?

7. Extracting Source Data

Depending on how antiquated the legacy system is, extracting data may be a multi-step process. It can also involve creating views in the legacy database in order to consolidate data from different tables.

8. Preparing Source Data

After the data extraction, based upon what decisions were made about cut-off dates, record exclusion, field exclusion, picklist consolidation and more, the legacy data needs to be properly prepared (ordered and transformed) for transfer into the CRM system.

In order for blocks of memo text to be easily readable in a new system, superfluous characters may need to be stripped from legacy memo fields, especially when email history is involved.

9. Merging Duplicate Records

If the existence of duplicate records in the legacy database is a pervasive issue, then duplicates can be both identified and bulk merged after the source data is extracted.

If there are a minimal number of duplicates, it might be better to import all duplicates and then use the “stare and compare” deduplication functionality that’s available in most CRM systems so that what data to retain can be made on a field by field basis.

CRM Data Migration Best Practices

Watch our Education Team talk through tips and tricks for data hygeine and the pending migration.

The video below shows our Engage CRM, but the practices and philosophies are applicable for Elements, or any CRM you will be moving into.

Pitfalls to Avoid

Custom Fields in the Source CRM

There is a high chance the new platform will have additional fields for integrating the custom data elements.

Alternatively, ask the company that provides you with data migration services to add custom elements into the new CRM.


CRM implementation is a project that requires preparation, commitment and cooperation across the entire organization.

There are a lot of things you need to get ready for, such as allocating resources, getting people on board, rolling out a clear and consistent plan of action, etc.

But most importantly, you need to get ready for a shift in the mindset, as a CRM system may transform the way you do business.

Implementing a CRM system is not just the introduction of new technology when you download a software and press “Install”.

CRM is, in fact, an adoption of a brand-new way of thinking – of a customer being at the heart of business and all information being kept in one centralized database. It is a strategic business approach that unites technology, internal processes, employees and data management across an entire organization, with an aim to attract and keep customers.