From Start to Finish: A Comprehensive CRM Migration Plan

A step-by-step guide for successful CRM data migration, including tips for preparing your existing data from your legacy CRM, selecting a new one, and moving data to a new CRM solution.

By Jon Arancio, Vice President

CRM Migration

A CRM migration project can be overwhelming. The risk of data errors is one of the main reasons businesses put off making the switch from one customer relationship management system to another.

Some organizations turn to traditional IT services providers for help. However, these companies typically cannot provide specific solutions tailored to complex CRM migrations. General IT vendors often have a long learning curve to understand the existing and the new CRM platform. Starting from scratch, they may need to charge high fees, and deliver slow turnaround times (or poor results), leaving companies frustrated by unexpected delays and subpar service.

There are several reasons a company might need to migrate to a new CRM. Outdated software, a desire for more advanced features, a growing amount of data, or a change in business needs are just a few examples. Whatever the reason, it’s important to plan CRM migration carefully to avoid data loss or a disruption to business operations.

In this article, I’ll provide a step-by-step guide for successful CRM data migration, including tips for preparing your existing data from your legacy CRM, selecting a new one, and moving data to a new CRM solution.

What Is CRM Migration?

CRM migration refers to transferring data from one CRM to another, which can lead to errors and lost information. The change can be tedious, which is why many small businesses hesitate to change. However, despite the challenges, CRM migration is a necessary step towards better customer service and higher revenue growth.

To get started, small businesses must select a new CRM that best fits their needs. This involves research, analysis, and careful consideration of features and the cost of ownership. Once a new system is selected, the next step is to map out the data to ensure a seamless transfer. This may involve data cleaning or reformatting your data, which is where having subject matter experts can make the most difference. Knowing how the new system will interpret the data you feed, it is essential to start off with a new system the right way.

A mix-up in how one part of the data relates to others can occur if the data is not properly formatted for import or if there are differences in how data is stored in the old and new systems. Therefore, it’s crucial to have a backup plan in place to account for any unexpected issues.

To ensure a smooth transition, small businesses should work with a team of experts. This may include consultants and trainers who specialize in CRMs. They can provide guidance and support throughout the entire process, from system selection to employee training.

What is a CRM Migration?
What is a CRM Migration?

Benefits of Migrating to a CRM

By using the CRM to streamline workflows and automate manual processes, your team will have more hours to work on more productive tasks. The software also ensures greater accuracy and consistency in data entry and reporting.

Businesses can use CRMs to get a transparent view of their customer base. As data is gathered and analyzed in a central location, it becomes easier to get a comprehensive understanding of customer behavior.

A CRM also makes it easier to respond quickly to customer inquiries, complaints, and requests. By tracking all customer interactions, you can improve customer service and personalize experiences. Sales and marketing teams can access real-time data on customer profiles, empowering them to tailor their messaging and outreach.

Moving your data to a CRM software also improves team collaboration and communication. By having all the data in one place, every team member can access important customer details and insights. Teams can also track leads, manage opportunities, set reminders, and build reports, all of which can be shared across the organization, resulting in better alignment and efficient workflows.

CRMs also address issues arising from disjointed systems with stale data. By bringing everything under one umbrella, it future proofs the business and enables teams to scale and grow. CRM software can be customized to suit your specific business needs, giving you more control and flexibility over your customer data and processes.

Benefits of Migrating a CRM
Benefits of Migrating a CRM

Preparing for Migration

Migrating your data from your current CRM to a new system can be a daunting task that requires careful planning and execution. However, with a few key considerations, you can make the process seamless and ensure a successful transition for your business.

First, start by identifying your current software’s limitations and consider what capabilities you would like your new CRM to have. Making this list will help you focus on the right features and functionalities to prioritize in the new software.

Next, identify what parts of your existing (old) system you feel are valuable. Often, if you are abandoning one system for another, the prior system was not used to its fullest potential. If you have a great deal of data but do not need all of it, there is no reason to migrate all of it. Figure out what has value and pay only to move those parts. Telling a vendor to move ‘everything’ may simply move a mess from one place to another and cost you more to do so.

You will want to allocate a dedicated team responsible for the migration process. This might include project managers and IT personnel. The team should oversee the entire process, from planning and data mapping to testing and deployment. It’s crucial to involve end-users, including sales and marketing teams, to make sure they’re trained and equipped to use the new system.

As you prepare for the migration, review your data quality. Duplicate or outdated data can hinder your new system’s functionality and make it harder to use. Data analysis tools can help you validate your data and ensure accuracy before importing it into the new system. Take time to understand the data structures and relationships in both systems to avoid any discrepancies or data loss during the migration. We will discuss duplicates in greater detail later in this post.

Consider conducting a trial migration to test the new CRM’s functionality so you can be sure it meets your business requirements. This trial run also serves as a testing ground to identify potential issues and to make necessary adjustments before going live.

It’s important to establish a timeline and communicate the migration schedule to everyone involved. This will help prevent disruption to business operations. Also, consider establishing a backup plan in case of any unexpected problems arise during the migration process.

Finally, document your migration strategy, including best practices, standards, and procedures. This will help you maintain consistency and accountability throughout the process. This documentation can also serve as a reference guide for any future CRM data migrations.

How to Prepare for a CRM Migration
How to Prepare for a CRM Migration

Creating a Migration Plan

A successful CRM migration requires careful planning and well-structured execution. Before starting, clear communication and a thorough understanding of the current and future system’s functionality are crucial.

Here are some tips to create a viable migration plan.

Get Your Team Ready for a CRM Migration

Get everyone on board. Make sure everyone understands the need for a CRM migration and the benefits it can bring. This will increase user adoption and make the process smoother.

Customizing Your Data Import Strategy for CRM Migration

Before the migration, define the data that should be transferred to the new target CRM. Decide what fields are relevant and which ones can be left behind. Ensure there are no duplicates or errors in the data.

Map out your data fields in advance to make the migration process smoother. This involves matching your old CRM fields to the new one, aligning the formatting, and identifying any unique requirements your new CRM may have. Ensure your data is error-free to the best of your ability. Some clients use data cleansing tools to update addresses, remove duplicates, and identify any discrepancies.  It is worth putting in effort at this stage to create better quality user experience later on.

Plan for the process by preparing a detailed timeline and assigning roles and responsibilities. Test the import process before executing it to avoid any last-minute hiccups. Prioritize critical data such as contacts, leads and opportunities, ensuring they are imported first. Automating the import process can save time and reduce the risk of errors. Check to make sure if your new CRM supports automation, and if so, set it up accordingly.

Testing is Crucial: Make Sure Your New CRM Works for You

Before you move all of your data, choose a sample to practice with. This will enable you to make sure your new CRM works as it should and that you’re ready for the transition.  Working on a small subset of data may identify conditions that you can work to address before going live.

All of this preparation is an opportunity to correct any issues, uncover any compatibility concerns, and adjust anything else as needed. You don’t want to discover any problems after the full migration when it’s too late or more difficult to make changes.

By testing, you can also verify whether the new platform meets your needs in terms of functionality and customization. Does it have the features you need? Can you easily customize it to meet your unique business requirements? These are all important questions to answer before moving data from one platform to another.

By conducting this trial run, you can minimize the risks and costs associated with moving to a new CRM platform. It’s better to take the time to test now than to rush into a full migration and risk encountering significant problems down the line.

Create Data Backups

As a business owner, you understand your customers are the lifeblood of your organization. Your CRM system holds all the information about them, their preferences, and past interactions. Losing your data because of unforeseen circumstances can be catastrophic.

Backing up your data is critical. You never know when something might go wrong—a server crash, a virus attack or a natural disaster. By performing a regular backup, your critical business data will be safe. A CRM data migration consultant can guide you through the entire process and ensure your data is stored in a secure location.

It’s not enough to store your CRM data on your hard drive, network server, or cloud storage. You need to ensure that the backup is reliable, accessible, and recoverable. A redundant backup system with multiple copies of your data in different locations is ideal. This not only protects against data loss but also reduces downtime in case of a system failure.

Check Your Migrated Data: Tips for Double-Checking Your CRM

Migrating your data to a new CRM is a big step, but it’s not the end of the process. You need to double-check that everything migrated correctly. Even though it may seem like a time-consuming task, double-checking your migrated data is an important process.

Mistakes could become apparent once you start using the new platform. These errors might impact valuable client interactions. Therefore, it’s necessary to be diligent in the checking process to identify and correct issues as they arise. Run searches in the old and new system, to ensure the same results on both sides.

As you begin double-checking your data post-migration, be on the lookout for any inconsistencies. These may include crucial details that were not migrated or any other issue caused by the migration process.

Don’t rely solely on automated data migration processes. Data inconsistencies could still arise. Pay attention to formatting and the details within the data. Check that contact information such as addresses and phone numbers are correct. The date fields and all essential details should also be correct without errors.

One major challenge many companies face after migration is duplicated data. It’s easy to move over data duplicates from the previous CRM to the new system, but vital to remove them immediately and correctly. Duplicates can lead to discrepancies in client data and confusion for both the organization and the clients themselves.

Spending a few extra hours performing checks now will help you avoid costly errors and deliver high-quality service to clients.

Training Staff on the New System

Success with an industry-leading CRM platform is irrelevant if teams don’t know how to use it. CRM adoption requires deliberate action, including adequate training to shorten onboarding. Scheduling a demo or brief training session helps employees learn faster, work efficiently, and make a smooth transition from the old CRM to the platform.

During the onboarding process, give your teams enough time to familiarize themselves with the new CRM. Don’t rush the process. Explain everything clearly. Make training materials and resources readily available so your employees can refer to them whenever they need help.

Consider creating a test environment where staff can practice using the new CRM before launching it officially. This exercise will help identify any system glitches or user adoption issues that may significantly hamper the rollout. It also helps build confidence and competence before using the new platform.

Finally, show your staff how the CRM will make their lives easier, ultimately benefiting the entire organization. This shows them you care about the work they do and helps employees understand the importance of a successful system adoption.

Planning for Ongoing Maintenance and Updates to Your CRM Platform for its Efficiency

It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of having a new CRM to work with. But what happens after the initial setup and implementation? How can you be sure your platform will continue to serve its purpose in the long term?

Regular system checks and audits are crucial to ensuring that your software is running smoothly. This includes monitoring performance metrics, such as page load times and response times, and identifying any potential bottlenecks or issues. Regular system checks also help to ensure that your data is accurate and consistent, reducing the risk of errors or duplication.

Best practices for data management include ensuring that your data is clean and up-to-date, proper data classification, and the use of data segmentation to target specific groups of customers. Regular user training is also essential to ensure that your team understands how to use the system effectively and efficiently.

By planning for ongoing maintenance and updates to your CRM, you can ensure that it continues to serve its purpose and operate efficiently. This not only enhances your team’s productivity but also helps to improve customer satisfaction and drive revenue growth.

Choosing the Right CRM for Migration

Choosing the right CRM software can be overwhelming. Making the decision involves several factors. It's not just about finding a software that can store customer data, but having one that can streamline your sales process, improve communication, and provide valuable insights. With so many options available, it's important to do your research and find a CRM that has all the features you need.

Customization is one of the most important features to look for in a CRM. Your business has unique needs and processes. A CRM should be capable of accommodating those needs.

Another important feature is integration. Your CRM should be compatible with other software and tools you use. Email marketing platforms, social media, and project management tools are examples.

Your CRM should also be able to provide you with valuable insights into your sales process with reporting and analytics, such as conversion rates, lead sources, and sales performance.

Finally, consider ease-of-use. A CRM that is difficult to navigate can be frustrating for your team and may lead to low adoption rates.

In the sections that follow, I’ll provides more details on the most common features your CRM should have.

Choosing the Right CRM for Migration
Choosing the Right CRM for Migration

User Interface & Custom Fields

The user interface is one of the most important factors to consider when choosing a new platform. Having a CRM that is intuitive and easy to navigate is crucial for increasing productivity and reducing frustration. Look for a software that has an organized and customizable layout, with clear labels and icons that make sense.

Second on the list is configuration and customizability. Every business is unique and has specific requirements for managing their customer data. A CRM that allows for custom fields and tags can help streamline workflows. You should land on a solution that delivers what you want at a budget that makes sense for your organization.

Besides custom fields, options for adding additional data sources are also important. Does the software let you import data from spreadsheets or other databases? Can this be set as a template to repeat the process again and again? Are you able to change a field on many records at once? Can you delete your own records? In enterprise scale CRM solutions, it is common to pay developers to write scripts for global changes. Is that in your budget? Global updates are not just a matter of whether the system allows you to do it but how efficiently this is enabled.

If there are features that are not built into the CRM, can it integrate with other software tools the business uses, such as marketing automation platforms?

Further, it’s essential to evaluate the software’s reporting capabilities. Can it generate the reports the business needs, such as sales pipelines, customer acquisition and retention rates, and ROI of marketing campaigns? Again, how difficult or easy is it to generate reports? What is the cost? Choosing a CRM that provides robust reporting capabilities can save time and help the business make smarter marketing decisions.

Scalability is another consideration. As the business grows, will the software be able to handle an increased amount of customer data and user activity? Is the pricing structure flexible enough to accommodate growth without breaking the bank?

Of course, the level of customer support provided by the software vendor is critical. Is there a dedicated support team accessible by phone, email, or chat? Are there resources available like online training materials or user communities where businesses can seek advice and learn from other users?

Read reviews from other users to get a sense of their experiences with the software. Look for reviews that address specific concerns such as user interface, customizability, and customer support. The goal is to choose a CRM that meets the needs of the business both now and in the future.

Maximizer CRM: Everything You Need to Know

Maximizer CRM is the perfect tool to help you streamline your processes and increase productivity.

Duplicate Records Management & Maintenance Costs

Keeping track of accurate customer data without duplicating it is a problem that businesses face daily, especially while working with large customer databases. Duplicate records not only cause confusion, they can also be a significant drain on resources. Since one goal of a CRM is to centralize relationship management, we don’t want two different parts of your company logging calls for the same client in two places.

When choosing a new CRM system, examine how it handles duplicate records. There are two broad categories of duplicate management. One is preventing them at creation, and the other is cleaning them up without losing history.

When you add a new record to the system, can it alert you that a duplicate may exist? Is the searching flexible so that duplicates are obvious at a glance?

If duplicates are created, what is the clean-up process? How do you merge things like the address or phone? What happens to saved notes, emails or other communication?

If it has robust deduplication features, then it’s a good sign that it prioritizes accurate data management. Reducing and managing duplicates makes the entire CRM more valuable.

Cost of maintenance is another concern. CRMs aren’t cheap, and maintenance can be a significant expense. The software you purchase should provide value for the money you spend. A well-designed CRM will have built-in features that reduce the cost of maintenance, like automated maintenance and upgrades. Common configuration such as adding fields, setting up custom views or reports and making your own saved searches should be an out-of-the-box feature in a small business CRM where you are not likely to have staff focused only on one software application.

Integrations with Other Systems and Platforms

Integration is the key to a streamlined workflow, and without it, your team can quickly become bogged down, causing frustration and delays in closing deals or resolving customer issues.

Therefore, you must consider the systems and platforms that your CRM can integrate with. Whether you need to integrate with accounting software, marketing automation platforms, or payment gateways, your system should be flexible enough to support a wide variety of integrations.

The system should have straightforward and easy-to-use APIs, and a pre-built integration library that makes connecting different systems a breeze. The more straightforward the integration process, the less time and cost you will have to build out your own customization.

Further, check whether the software offers real-time integration, batch integration, or both. For critical systems, such as payment gateways or order fulfillment, real-time integration is crucial to ensure that your team has up-to-date information when they need it most. Alternatively, batch integration may suffice for less time-sensitive data, and may be able to handle larger data sets.

Security Features and Support Services

Security breaches can lead to disastrous consequences for your business, from loss of customer trust to regulatory penalties. The right CRM solution with strong security measures can ensure your customer data and internal communications remain private.

Make sure the CRM you choose offers end-to-end encryption, SSO/SAML, access controls, and audit logging features. These are just a few examples of security measures that trustworthy software should provide. Don’t be shy about asking CRM vendors for more details about their security protocols, such as their adherence to privacy regulations and data processing agreements.

Besides security, a CRM also needs to have reliable support features. Look for a platform with a data migration service and technical support that is available through multiple channels, including phone, email, and chat. A robust knowledge base or a dedicated community forum can also help you troubleshoot issues and quickly find solutions.

Looking to streamline and optimize your sales process?

Wintec Group has over 25 years of experience helping clients establish an easy, reproducible selling process that converts leads and closes sales. As an elite Maximizer CRM certified partner, we have consistently achieved Partner of the Year recognition.

Our expert consultants will work with you to set up and implement a CRM that’s tailored to your business needs, making it easy for you to manage your customer relationships and track your sales pipeline.

Contact us to learn more about our CRM setup and implementation consulting services and start maximizing your sales potential.

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Jon Arancio, Vice President

Jon is the co-founder and Vice-President of Wintec Group Inc., a CRM software reseller and application support specialty firm. He helps clients implement Maximizer CRM, and provides outsourced application knowledge to firms who need the additional skills sets but are not looking to add support staff for this technology.


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