5 Tips to Help Your Data Migration Projects Run Smoothly

The goal is simple: transfer data out of one system and into another. But the process, not so much. Developers must simultaneously juggle APIs, recreate workflows and reports, and manage client expectations. All that considered, a “simple” migration project can quickly become overwhelming, especially for inexperienced developers.

But don’t fret! Our dev team has plenty of experience in handling these projects. Here are five tips to help your migration projects run smoothly so you can look like heroes to your clients.

1. Have a Gameplan

Before taking on a data migration project, team members involved in implementation need to develop a sound gameplan. This seems obvious, but we’ve found that whiteboarding processes upfront can help visualize all the different pieces involved so we can dedicate team members to specific tasks.

Use this time to develop realistic timelines for deliverables and note any potential roadblocks that could prevent due dates from being hit. For example, you may need client input on finalizing custom fields before your team can move onto the next task. These sort of things need to be relayed to the client before the project begins so expectations are realistic on both sides.

2. Familiarize Yourself with API Documentation

Because there’s no magic button to make this all work, developers will most likely need to write custom scripts built around APIs to make multiple systems interact with each other and automate as many processes as possible. Thus, it would behoove developers to familiarize themselves with the appropriate API documentation as early into the project as possible.

ActiveCampaign’s API will require different parameters then HubSpot’s API, for instance, and learning these differences upfront will increase your efficiency once the implementation begins. Luckily, nearly all prominent platforms will have publicly available API documentation for developers to reference. These docs generally provide all the tools you’ll need to get started: endpoint URLs, required parameters, examples in multiple interface languages, and authentication requirements.

3. Utilize Sample Data

Once you’ve exported all the necessary data from the old system, it may be tempting to immediately upload it to the new system. But before this is done, we strongly recommend handling sample data to test how your import will respond in the new system.

For example, say you’re migrating data from Salesforce to HubSpot. Before you import the 100,000 contacts and 50,000 opportunities with associated activity history to Hubspot, take a random sample of 200 contacts and 100 opportunities and their associated activity history and import that data first. This will allow you to analyze the success of your migration on a small scale so you can more meticulously examine how the data is formatted in the new system.

This method will help prevent potentially reaching daily API call limits with certain systems as well. If you import all 100,000 contacts and then realize you need to alter a data field and send the API request again, you risk running out of API calls and will have to likely wait 24 hours to try again. By uploading small sample data, you can iron all the kinks out first and then confidently migrate full data sets.

4. Develop a Support System for Client Feedback

Depending on the extent of the project, the work may not necessarily be complete once the data has been migrated. Oftentimes, and especially for agencies, the implementation team will need to handle client questions and feedback surrounding the new system. Keep in mind that the client likely has zero experience with the new system and will need support in getting started.

Depending on the size of the client, your team may become overwhelmed with questions and feedback relating to navigating the new system. We’ve found the best way to handle this is to develop a “ticket system.” This could mean creating a form for the client to fill when they have a question or sharing a Google Doc between teams–essentially, any tool that will allow feedback and questions to accumulate for a few days to a week so your team can respond in an organized and timely manner will suffice.

When responding to questions and feedback, provide as much documentation (official or custom) as possible. This is essentially “teaching the client how to fish” instead of simply “giving them a fish” — by providing them with documentation, you provide them with tools they can reference and learn from, allowing them to feel more comfortable and confident in their new system moving forward.

5. Document Everything

The key to learning from each project is to be able to analyze failures and mistakes and understand how to eliminate them in the future. This is where documentation becomes critical. If your team is able to identify mistakes of a past project as a potential roadblock of a future project, then they have successfully taken a negative and turned it positive.

By documenting the successes and failures of specific processes, each project your team takes on will become more efficient and profitable as you will have gradually laid down the framework for successful implementation.

Contact us today to learn more about data migration.

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