Surprise, fear, distrust, groans and dead silence are just some of the reactions I get from database shoppers when I ask them to send in their data for a Data Analysis. It catches people off guard, I guess – because not all vendors require a Data Analysis in order to write an estimate for migrating your data over to your new system.

As a savvy CRM shopper, you are no doubt comparing prices and getting quotes from multiple CRM database providers. Have you included the price of migrating the data from your current processes into your new system? Migration of data into a new CRM can typically be between twenty-five to fifty percent of your initial costs. Before you sign a contract, you should ask for an analysis of your existing data to avoid an expensive surprise later on.

What is a data analysis? Simply put, it’s a secure and confidential process where your current data is analyzed to see how the information you keep from excel, your current database, mailing lists etc., will fit into your new CRM. This helps to identify any additional customization that may be needed, and provides a much more accurate price estimate for data migration into the new system.

So fear not, groan not, let’s get started!

Why you should require a Data Analysis

  1. Realistic Estimate:  It’s very rare that an organization moves to a CRM system from scratch with no previous records needing to be added. Transferring your current databases, spreadsheets, email addresses and other legacy data into a new database takes specialized skills, technical tools and individual attention. By looking at the data you are currently generating, your CRM provider can also make sure that they are offering you a solution that fits your needs.
  2. Creates a Road Map: The Data Analysis helps the CRM provider project a timeline. Migration of legacy data is one of the more time consuming aspects of getting a new CRM up and running. Getting a timeline from the CRM provider helps you start coordinating additional related items such as: shutting down your current systems, preparing staff for launch and training on the new system and working out a transition plan for those activities you’re in the middle of.

What happens during a Data Analysis?

The CRM provider will assess the structure of the current databases and platforms. Data migration is not simply about the number of records being transferred. In fact, the amount of work to transfer one thousand records is not that different than 100,000 records. Factors that impact the estimate are the number of data sources, the integrity of the data, and the amount of overlap between sources – just to name a few.

Buyer beware! If you’re not getting an estimate on your actual data written into your Proposal and Contract, be prepared to potentially get socked with additional costs after the fact, and a potentially lengthy setup process. If a CRM provider has never seen your data, how are they going to know an accurate estimate for amount of time or work that will be put into setting it up?

Additional reasons you should insist on a Data Analysis

Still skeptical? Still clutching onto your data with white knuckles? Here’s some reasons you should want to have a CRM provider take you through this process:

  1. You need to find and get to know your data. Simply preparing for the Data Analysis is a valuable exercise in and of itself, and will give your organization the opportunity to discuss several important topics and make some decisions about your data before moving it to a new database. Here are some basic questions to ask:
    • Where is the data – all of it
    • Why do we have it
    • How is it used
    • How do I get it out of our current system (can I do it myself or do I have to pay our current vendor for my data)
    • Is it useful data
    • Should I archive this data or move it into the new system
    • And again, where is the data – who is keeping a secret database or hidden spreadsheets
  2. Make Data Decisions. Confirm with everyone involved which data will be held back and archived, and what lucky data will be migrated into the system. Send the lucky stuff in for Data Analysis. This is also a good time to consider Data Services – especially National Change of Address and CASS Certification. You’ll hit the ground running with a new database and up-to-date standardized addresses.

There are often two things that people searching for a new database find out through this process:

  1. They have way more hidden and duplicate records than they thought that they did through rogue databases.
  2. Getting their data from their current providers is not easy! Many discover that their providers will either make it very complicated to get their data back and in some cases they will even charge organizations to get their own records back. Side note: when you enter into an agreement with a software company, be SURE to ask what the process is for getting your data back. You own that data, you shouldn’t be charged or delayed in getting that information out of the system if you end up changing providers.

Data Analysis is your friend and it’s just one way thedatabank, gbc transparently works with you to move toward increasing your efficiency and effectiveness. You should be requesting that other software companies are also being sure to give you the most accurate estimate possible before you sign a contract.