Top 3 Things to Keep in Mind During Data Migration


Data migration typically accounts for more than 60% of the total hours in a database development project, yet it often receives the least attention from the client. Clients often think of data migration as being done during the night by “the man behind the curtain”, while in reality, a good data migration requires a lot of input and engagement from the client. Because we are very much in the business of proper expectation setting, we find that with data migration, it pays to know what’s going on behind that curtain.

To that end, we’ve created a list of the Top 3 Things to Keep in Mind during Data Migration.

Physical Movement

The first step in data migration is the physical movement of the data from one database to another (done by your consulting partner). The thing to note here is that it is the first step in the migration.

Perfecting the Migration

Eliminating any data migration defects will be required after the initial migration. This phase consists of moving, reformulating and mass editing of the newly migrated data within the new database. This work is done by your consulting partner, at the direction of the client project team.

Data migration should not be complete until the client project team is satisfied with the results of #2. The purpose of #2 is NOT to critique #1, which WILL produce migration defects. Defects noted after the initial data migration should be anticipated, and the client project staff should have the expectation of working with their consultant to identify and correct the imperfections of #1. Once the client project team is satisfied, #2 is complete and general users are allowed into the new system.

Ongoing Adjustments

You will have to adjust and update the data validation rules and data translations. Again, it is imperative that users’ expectations be set properly. When users begin using the new database, unanticipated issues will occur. Some will be part of the iterative design process: “we changed our minds about how we want the new system to handle X”, as well as cases where data validation rules must be reconciled between new and old data. #3 is not a critique of #1 and #2, but it is necessary to a good migration.

Keep this list in mind and you’ll be on the road to a successful data migration.

Data migration is one part of a successful Salesforce implementation, but there’s a lot more to learn about how to manage your Salesforce database. Idealist Consulting is presenting a 2-part webinar titled ‘Salesforce Basics for the Accidental Administrator’ on September 18-19.

Register now!

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Cat Monaghan

About Cat Monaghan

Solutions Analyst, Idealist Consulting Cat Monaghan has worked with Idealist Consulting since 2010, personally shepherding hundreds of nonprofit organizations onto the Salesforce platform. Her knowledge of nonprofit business process includes foundations, membership organizations, fundraising, human services, higher education and others, making it difficult to stump her. Cat has spoken at events for the Nonprofit Technology Network, leads the Portland Nonprofit Salesforce User Group, and sits on the board of a small nonprofit which provides socialization services to foster mental health recovery.


  1. Susan Kenna Wright

    I like the point about ongoing adjustments. To me, these are a sign of the users getting used to the new system and making the shift from the old way to the new way. Hopefully these adjustments contribute to cleaner data and more efficient processes.

    • Agreed. I’ve seen some rocky go-lives due to data conversion issues that could be fixed rather easily if caught early enough. The adjustments are key to helping the new users gain trust in the new information system.

  2. Theses are great points! I woudl also add that establishing a strong process for leading data review while capturing and incorporating feedback as part of a structured User Acceptance Testing (UAT) process is extremely helpful for perfecting the migration performing ongoing adjustments.

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