Photo by Lukas Blazek on Unsplash
I will be the first to admit it, I hate to move. Houses, apartments, furniture, out of an extremely comfy chair — moving is oftentimes a huge chore. Moving data can often be more painful and awkward than lifting the heaviest piece of bedroom furniture. That said, after moving and integrating data from three different CRMs, it’s often a necessary evil that, if done well, can come with some tangible rewards for customers and associations.
Like with any major move, you want to have your stuff prepped and ready to roll before the movers swoop in and start plugging away.
According to Salesforce solution architect Toye BeGbaaji, the process of moving data is always a challenge, but it can be less painful if you take these steps into consideration.
If you’re the CFO of your association, the word audit is probably scaring the bejesus out of you, but this is not that kind of audit. When it comes to data moves, if you want to know where you are headed, you need to have an understanding of what you should and shouldn’t bring with you on the journey, according to BeGbaaji.
“First thing to do, without a doubt, is an audit of your current systems,” said BeGbaaji. “The biggest problem I have encountered is people bringing junk over.”
Here’s a typical scenario: Your system has a ton of fields or attributes, and the people who put those fields into place are no longer with the organization, so the fields are no longer in use or are perhaps even irrelevant. An audit is a chance to go review these attributes, evaluate their value or lack thereof and make decisions as to whether cutting back is warranted.
“Too many attributes increase the opportunity for errors,” said BeGbaaji.
When it comes to data, more isn’t always more, it’s actually often too much. As you prepare your data for its voyage into a shiny new CRM, you don’t want to instantly age and bog it down with a huge quantity of old and inactive records.
“Evaluation of the quantity of data is important,” BeGbaaji said. “If you have data that is going back 20 years, and there is no engagement, there is likelihood you are introducing additional records that could slow down the process.”
Less is probably more in terms of a data migration.
Storing inactive data often comes with a data integrity cost, but a dollars and cents expense too, advised BeGbaaji.
“There is a cost for storing data,” he said. “You keep stock piling data ‘til you get past the free threshold of your system, then you have to pay to store this old data.”
While historical data has its place, some history is not worth repeating, or in this case, hanging on to.
“That souvenir that you are holding on to may not always be what you think it is,” BeGbaaji said. “It’s data, but if it’s not information, it’s debris.”
As tempting as it is to think that by moving data from one location to another your data problems will magically disappear, they sadly won’t.
If you want to set your new CRM and the results of your data up to succeed, you can’t just leave it to parent itself. It needs a data guardian: Someone who will watch it closely, nurture it, keep it from getting you or others into trouble.
“Cleaning the data seems like a no-brainer, but someone has to own it,” BeGbaaji said. “You can’t just hand your data to a vendor. I can make assumptions, but I don’t know your criteria.”
The data guardian is someone who has a good handle on which of the four John or Joan Smiths in your database are duplicate records and those that are unique. The process of data clean-up has far less to do with technological know-how as it does with a solid amount of institutional knowledge.
“There has to be a willingness to assign someone the unpleasant job to make those decisions,” recommended BeGbaaji.
Who is your champion?
Something I have personally experienced through my data migration experiences, the person doing the brunt of the work can bang the drum as loud as they can, but the project won’t make a sound until an organizational leader comes in with a cymbal and requests some attention.
Technology and data projects are notorious for becoming the can that keeps getting kicked down the road. The prep work isn’t flashy, it’s detailed and, for some, it’s a foreign concept. You need someone who is at a certain organizational level that will not only incite care but interest in the project’s success.
“The most successful projects I have been a part of have had an executive sponsor attached,” BeGbaaji said. “You need someone like that to keep the project from going lukewarm. The more clout the better.”
Moving your data will take consideration and planning, but it might not have to take years off your life if you put these steps into action. While an IT department is not required for a data move, some expert insight can be really impactful on the success of your project — and your project owner’s peace of mind.