Data migration can be a daunting task, and it’s not just about the effort involved, but also the costs. In fact, data migration typically accounts for around 50% of the effort and cost of any data migration project. Whether you’re migrating to Salesforce or any other database program, it’s always a challenge due to the numerous square pegs you must fit into differently shaped holes.

So, how can you prepare for a data migration project and ensure its success? It all starts with understanding your data and the process involved. Here are some tips to help you prepare for smooth data migration:

  1. Get to Know Your Data: To understand your data, you need to know what types of data you’re storing currently. Contacts, households, donations, and other data types should be examined to determine how they relate to each other and whether any special rules exist for how data is managed.
  2. Consider Household Rules: Nonprofits often have to consider householding when migrating their data. This involves determining when to link two contacts together within a household, which is not always an easy decision.
  3. The Migration Process: The data migration process generally follows a set pattern. First, you analyze your legacy data to understand its structure, assess its integrity, and determine deduplication and cleanup work that may be required. Next, you map every table and field to understand its purpose and structure and establish migration rules. Once the mapping is complete, you convert and migrate the data based on the rules defined in the mapping stage. After the data is converted, you validate the results by comparing the old database with the new one and making any necessary changes. Finally, you cleanse the data by deduping, data appending, and fixing any errors or weird characters.
  4. Differential: As you’re likely still using your old database while you’re in the process of migrating, a differential allows you to rerun all of the conversion and cleansing scripts on an updated copy of your database and add or modify any records that have changed since the previous delivery.

Data migration can be overwhelming, but it’s essential to ensure that you get the most out of your new database. Understanding your data, preparing for the process, and working with experts to help you through the migration process can help ensure that your data migration is successful. By preparing well and taking the time to understand your data, you can avoid potential pitfalls and save time and money in the long run.