How to Prepare Your Organization for a Data Migration

What comes to mind when you hear the words “data migration”? 

Maybe you think about acquisitions and the work that happens during post-merger integration.

Maybe you think about the tools and systems you need to organize and transfer massive quantities of information.

Maybe you think all the way down to field-level mapping in your Salesforce instance.

What may not come to mind, at least not at first, is your team. But when it comes down to it, your people are what drive a data migration (and any other initiative) forward. Their level of preparation and familiarity with your source and target data models, the context and purpose of the data, and required reporting off of the data,  are essential d to your success.

We’ve covered several aspects of data migration in previous posts. In this piece, we’ll address how to prepare your organization for a data migration.

Steps to Prep for Data Migration

A data migration touches more team members than you may realize. As you begin preparation, be sure to include anybody who may need to provide context in the project: business users in each functional area, operations, Salesforce administrators, and IT/IS.

Begin with business fundamentals

Resist the urge to dive right into technical details. Instead, frame the project in a broader business context. Share with your team what you’re trying to accomplish and what success looks like.

Then, cover your business fundamentals. Make sure your team can answer these questions—and don’t assume they already know the answers. 

  • Who do we sell to?
  • What do we sell?
  • How do we sell?
  • What’s important to know about the customer base?
  • How do we go to market?
  • What does the competition look like?

You might be surprised by how rare it is for a company to offer this level of clarity to their employees. But you need them to be aligned to reduce the risk of them making false assumptions during the data migration. Your team will be making judgment calls and need to apply critical thinking. Give them the context to make those decisions wisely.

SaaS Data Migration - Evaluate your processes

Evaluate your processes

Transferring data is one of the final steps in a data migration, not the first one. Rather than dumping unvetted data into your Salesforce org and trying to fix it later, pull back and evaluate your current processes.

You can find a detailed explanation of how to evaluate data-related processes here. Involve the business and technical team members who need to make decisions and execute the data migration early for buy-in.

Establish guidelines to support the migration

For each step in the data migration process, define a process for how to execute that step. What does it look like to analyze data? How will you perform data cleansing?

A set of logical rules will help your team make better decisions—for example, deciding which records “win” when there are two or more records that need to be merged. If needed, build templates to help your team stay consistent. 

The result of this step should not only be a set of guidelines (which you can reuse for your next acquisition) but also a project plan that maps out your data migration strategy. 

Develop a data dictionary

The meaning of a specific Salesforce field may seem obvious to you, but it could mean something completely different to your counterpart in the company you just acquired. A data dictionary is another tool for team alignment that allows you to clearly define and document what your data means. 

Document how your data is used, who owns it, where it comes into play in your revenue reporting, and what its linked dependencies are. Try a tool like Schema Lister to help organize this information.

Run a technical analysis of your existing data

Use automation to pull the metadata of your data. The output of a technical analysis should include information like:

  • all of your available fields
  • what percentage of records populate each field
  • unique values for each field
  • when each field was last updated

This step is critical to helping your team start a more detailed mapping process in your Salesforce instance. 

Now the Work of Data Migration Begins

All of this work should take place before you map a single new field or de-dupe any records. Once your preparation is complete, you’re ready to move into the official data migration process, which begins with data cleansing

A data migration is a major undertaking, especially for companies that are trying to merge organizations while growing rapidly. It’s a bit like trying to swap out the engine of a jet while in flight. But putting in the upfront work to prepare for the migration will save you time and energy as the project unfolds. If you’d like to learn more about data migration at a technical level, check out our post, 5 Elements of a Data Migration Project.

Interested in having someone walk your team through your next data migration? OpFocus is here to help. Contact our acquisition integration team to learn how we can support you!

Jim Parker

about the author

Jim Parker

I’m part of our OpFocus SaaS Growth Advisory bench. This is a team of on-demand, best-in-class independent consultants with previous experience as a VP or senior director role in marketing, sales, revenue operations, client success, or customer support for a SaaS company or have 10+ years as a senior consultant to business executives.

In my client-facing role, I work directly with OpFocus’ SaaS portfolio clients to provide prescriptive best practice guidance and recommendations specifically around optimizing: sales process, revenue operations, and Salesforce as a growth enablement tool. I lead and participate in delivering growth services projects, including business process consulting and strategic roadmap engagements by leveraging his deep experience within this specific domain.