Data Migration and Integration Deserve Respect | Part 1

This is the first of a two-part post intended to get you thinking about Microsoft Dynamics CRM data migration and integration prior to the start of your project. Remember data is one of the most important assets any company has, it’s vital to understand the needs of the client and the role a consultant plays. 

Most Microsoft Dynamics CRM implementations require some sort of data migration and/or system integration. The client wants to bring over current and legacy data. Conceptually, it’s a no-brainer as the upside is quite easy to justify. But the path to success in moving and working with data is not always a straight one and there are usually a good number of square pegs that need to be fit into round holes. Have no doubt, when we’re talking Microsoft Dynamics CRM implementation – data migration and integration deserve respect.

I’ll say it even though it’s obvious: Data is one of the most important assets any company has so it is a KEY deliverable. Moving data from one system to another is a regular part of many CRM projects and there are a number of tools available to help with the ‘mechanical’ part of it. However, a project that includes data migration and integration possesses a higher level of risk than a similar project without it. So we need to have a healthy ‘respect’ for the circumstances and situations we’ll be facing.

On the Client Side | Clients may not have a complete understanding of:

  • The level of detail and complexities involved with many data integration and migration projects.
  • How the various pieces of their data relate to one and other.
  • The condition of their data.
  • The differences between migration and integration and which they really need.
  • Their responsibility for validating and participating in the data work and the effort it will take.

It’s easy to assume that “it’s just data” and to underestimate that part of the project – this can be a costly assumption.

On the Consulting Side| Consultants need to:

  • Work closely with the Client or Prospect in order to educate and help them gain a proper understanding and perspective of the above topics.
  • Make every effort to gain as much understanding about the Client and their data as possible, given the limitation of scope of discovery and terms of the project.
  • Evaluate expertise and experience with the systems, industries, etc. we’ll be dealing with in the project.
  • Given the (usually) limited exposure to the data prior to project initiation, be up-front with the client regarding comfort level and the ability to accurately assess and estimate the level of effort needed, as well as identify possible risks.

Consultants need to nurture the relationship with the Client and to help the Client to help them.

The nature of the ‘beast’

  • Data is a ‘beast’ . . . working to ‘tame’ it often takes more time than initially thought as we uncover new aspects of the data models during implementation.
  • Without a complete ‘under the hood’ assessment of data prior to commencing work, know that there will be surprises and things that just have to be dealt with.
  • The more the Client and the Consultant know about it up front, the smoother the project will go and risk level will decrease.
  • It’s difficult to scale back the scope of data work once you are committed – good reason to avoid getting into trouble in the first place.
  • Both sides will know the data much better once the work is done – and both will wish they had that same understanding when they started the data work.

Stay Tuned

Integration and data migration are areas certainly deserving of an appropriate level of risk management throughout a project. In the next post we’ll dig a little deeper into some specific things Consultants should consider as they plan and execute systems integration. The same goes for Clients as they look to implement CRM or perform integration for themselves.

By John Clifton, Application Consultant. To contact a CRM expert, click here.