It is a scenario that happens all too frequently: A company decides to implement a new software or platform. No matter how many benefits the new implementation can offer, there will always be some people who view the change with suspicion, if not outright anger. They prefer the approaches they have been using to get their jobs done, and they see no reason to change.
Despite their objections, the implementation goes forward. If these people ever run into dirty data or an inaccurate report, they immediately revert to their old ways — workarounds, spreadsheets, compartmentalized data and stand-alone apps.
If you want to improve the chances for your Salesforce implementation to succeed, you need to be prepared to manage your data before and after the migration. Following these tips will help ensure a more peaceful — and permanent — transition.
Determine Challenges You Face
If you are in a regulated industry, you must ensure that all confidential or sensitive data is protected throughout the migration process. Even if you are not bound by government regulations, you want to make sure that your data remains secure. Determine what challenges you may face during and after migration, and have a concrete plan in place to keep data protected.
Establish Business Rules for Data to be Migrated
Unless you are a start-up — and sometimes, even if you are — your databases are probably a boneyard of obsolete information. Your inventory master lists products you no longer offer, or your bills of material detail specs for products you no longer manufacture. You have receivables on your books that have been there for years and are too small for a collection agency to accept. You have a few credits on the books from a vendor you would not order from again if he were the last supplier on the planet. Your customer master has entries for “Jedidiah Ezekiel Katzenjammer,” “Jedidiah Ezekiel Kartzenjammer” and “Jedidiah Esekiel Katzenjammer” — all with the same address, phone number and email.
- Develop rules for purging data. Establish a dollar value for writing off payables and receivables. Decide how long a product must be inactive to eliminate it from the master file. Determine how to decide whether a record in the customer master is a duplicate. Once you have defined the rules, you can proceed to prepare your data for migration by scrubbing it.
You have scrubbed your data and the migration has gone smoothly. Now you need to verify that the data is correct. Your methods will depend on your industry, scope of operations and other factors. For some data, comparing report totals might be sufficient, but you may need to drill down further for sensitive data, such as patient records.
Manage Your Data after Implementation
Unless you plan to scrub your data repeatedly after migration, you should establish a plan to manage it on an ongoing basis. The following tips can help you create such a plan.
- Decide how clean is “clean enough.” For critical analyses, you want data that is squeaky clean, but for other uses, you might be willing to tolerate a certain amount of dirty data, such as duplicates in the customer master.
- Verify that your source is providing you with data that meets your standards. If not, discuss the matter with the source. Perhaps the source does not realize that the data is unacceptable.
- If the source cannot provide you with data that is clean enough for your purposes, find another source if an alternative is available.
- Develop a plan to verify data integrity. Perhaps you can assign a team member to take random samples and check for accuracy manually.
Data migrations have been necessary since the first computer received an upgrade. As technology advances, it is likely that data migrations will become even more frequent as companies seek a competitive edge in the market. Although few people eagerly await the next migration, it does not have to be a painful experience.