Overview of Data Conversion Phase of a CRM Implementation


While we have already discussed the gathering of information in the discovery phase of a new Constituent Relationship Management (CRM) system and considered how all of your existing core business processes for your CRM implementation, today we are going to talk about the nuts and bolts: the data.

This is where we go through, field by field, line by line and map out where the data from your legacy system will be named and living in your new system. For example, your legacy the field ‘First Name’ is going to be moved to ‘FName’ in your new system and the legacy field ‘Last Name’ is going to ‘LName’. It gets a little trickier when you are looking at the historical information like action and activities, but just remember that every piece of data does not need to be transferred.

Data Conversion

This is a process that needs to be started early and should be done in parallel with the rest of the project as it likely won’t be finished until you go live. Data migration is also not a two week effort as you need to ensure you take the following steps:

  • Data Review and Field Mapping
  • Test Conversion
  • Data Review and User Acceptance Testing
  • Modifications and Final Approval

Only migrate the data that matters. Not every piece of data in your legacy system needs to be maintained in your new CRM system. View this as an opportunity to do a little bit of housecleaning. Inevitably there will be someone who will argue that someday you may want to send out a segmented piece of mail that to a person that volunteered at an event over 10 years ago. When evaluating these types of requests, think about what matters and what the ROI of that bringing over and maintaining that historical data will achieve.

Online – Social and Website

Many organizations view their website and online as separate from their CRM systems and strategies, but your CRM will bring all of this data together. When creating your CRM plan, be sure you are engaging Marketing/Communications to ensure the plan is comprehensive and includes how you will be engaging with your constituents.

As you integrate your website and social data with your CRM, you want to be sure the processes is started early as these types of integrations require careful and extensive testing. You’ll want input from all departments, including IT, Marketing/Communications, Operations and Development as the timing of these launches are critical. Each department will have different processes, but they need to be constantly communicating and be sure they are working towards the same goal.

With the explosion of social media, we now have a massive opportunity to learn more about our constituents. This data is available to us in a way that we have never seen before. However, if the data isn’t planned for and captured in a specific way it can just be noise that overwhelms your systems. Before integrating social data, be sure your systems are set up and prepared for the influx of that data.

This post was taken from a portion of our CRMready webinar series.

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To find out more information about the phases of a CRM implementation and other conversations you should be having, check out our CRMready webinar workshop where you can qualify for a FREE CRMready assessment.

Monika McMahon

About Monika McMahon

Monika joined Heller Consulting after spending 8 years in the Boulder technology startup scene. She is an expert in Social and Digital marketing, adopting and implementing new (and old) platforms for organizations ranging from ecommerce, SaaS, and nonprofits. Monika not only understands how these platforms work but how to use them to meet business objectives. When she is not educating and sharing her online talents, she can be found enjoying the music scene in Denver.


  1. Susan Kenna Wright

    Data migration is also a good opportunity to streamline and organize data. Is it possible to have fewer values in the picklist fields. E.g. If your prior systems’ Status field had Open, In Process, Pending, Closed. Can your new system be simplified to have only Open and Closed? This is a great opportunity to make your data more manageable. Another example is a client of mine had contact notes in four different places. Via migration we put all notes in one place, now it is much easier to find the notes.

  2. I can’t agree enough that a data migration is an opportunity to clean house. Make sure that you have someone in the mapping meetings that is going to challenge people on what they want to bring over. If that person asks questions like “Have you looked at that data in the last 5 years?”, “How are you planning on using that data in the new system?”, “Are you SURE you need that?”, you will end up with a cleaner and more functional CRM.

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