Posted by: admin
on Mar 06, 2011
Naturally, the last thing on your mind when you're buying a new CRM system is how the data and associated information can be extracted when you want to move to another CRM system.
Ok, so by and large your decision today is based on a long term implementation that should stay with you for the forseeable future. Right? Maybe, but new technologies come along all the time that can steer a business away from its current system. Notwithstanding change of course. A change of process, expansion, a merger or acquisition etc.
When we talk about data it is not only about contact names and addresses which, moreorless, can be transfered from CRM system to CRM system as a press of the export/import buttons. No, the real dilemmas start when transfering the associated information such as all the documents attached to contacts, the history of meetings and actions, attached support incidents, past and present sales opportunities, projects and so on.
A while back we migrated a customers CRM system from their existing Salesforce implementation over to a SugarCRM Professional implementation. It transpired that all the Microsoft Word documents that were attached to contacts, past meetings and activity records in Salesforce were stored inside the database and were not held as file attachments outside of the database. More to the point Salesforce provides no automatic extraction process and this meant the customer had to access each document within Salesforce (before their contract expired) and download them individually. Needless to say the customer was not happy since all these documents were no longer associated to their corresponding CRM record. Painful.
ETL tools like Jitterbit and Talend help overcome many of these issues but a migration should not be undertaken without considering the full implications upfront. Including the cost.
Another factor that needs to be considered is the time taken to carry out the data transfer. For example, will the transfer take place over night so that users can carry on in the new system without interruption. Or will the data migration take longer and be "phased in"? If so, how are you going to manage two different systems, with two duplicate data sets, each being updated in parallel?
Thankfully, there are good CRM providers out there that can take this headache away from you and carry out the data migration on your behalf. It will come at a price but will ensure your most valuable asset, your customer insights, is preserved. Make sure you include a provision for this in your CRM budget.
The wise move is to ensure the CRM system you choose allows full access to the database tables and data structure not just from within the CRM system but also from external tools such as ETL and Reporting systems.