Data Migration

Helping organizations overcome the challenges of migrating data from legacy systems to Salesforce

The Need for Migration

Every now and then a business finds the need to upgrade its enterprise applications in order to achieve higher ROI by utilizing the latest technologies and features, or a new implementing integration scheme among legacy applications and new ones. In these situations, moving data from one system to another may become necessary. When it does, it becomes a major part of the upgrading or integration project.

Surprisingly, data migration is not given the importance it deserves in these projects, and therefore is not planned well enough and given the right resources to guarantee success. Perhaps that’s the reason why the failure rate is so high. According to one survey by Boor Research, about two third of data migration projects end up overrunning the time and the budget, and according to another research by Gartner, 83% of data migrations fail or exceed their allotted budgets.?


Common Migration Challenges

Many companies don’t realize the true extent of the deficiencies related to their data management and quality until they engage in a migration project. The absence of a practical data management and governance policy, degradation of data quality and chaos in the organizational structure, access rights, user roles and other governance issues create serious obstacles in a data migration effort.

Low quality of data is the most immediate challenge encountered when starting a migration project. Duplicate data, poor data entry, missing data, misplaced data, data that is not normalized to conform to the system, all are data quality problems that must be corrected through a careful data cleaning process.

In addition to the above, final testing and validation could be a huge effort In large and complex data models, forcing the organization to allocate precious resources and causing unplanned time consumption. Integrating testing and validation of data into every phase of the project takes a huge burden off the final validation phase, and could save valuable time and resources.


What Could Go Wrong?

There are many factors in play in a migration project, and therefore many potential problems that can occur. Aside from the lack of proper planning, one of the sources of problems is the absence of qualified migration team. Existence or absence of a team of experienced data engineers and Salesforce experts handling the migration project could mean the difference between success and failure. It is not uncommon to run into serious issues and errors during migration, but it takes qualified staff using best practices and the knowledge they have gained from previous projects to find timely and cost-efficient solutions and avoid delays and budget overrun.

Another problem relates to the data. There always is a risk of data loss or corruption with every operation you perform on your data, and this problem becomes more serious when the data comes from different sources and the sizes are large. The mismatch between the format of the migrating data and the fields in the new system could render the data unusable.  Lowering these risks amounts to the careful identification of errors in the data and difference in the format between corresponding fields during the mapping operation, and then fixing all errors and inconsistencies before we attempt any migration or transfer operation.

One final area where we could face unforeseen problems in a migration operation is related to data security and privacy. Depending on the nature of the data that is being transferred, whether it is for compliance purposes regarding personal or healthcare data, or for protecting business data, implementing measures to prevent data privacy and protection violations could become a crucial part of a data migration project. In such cases, allocating right resources to methods such as data masking could save the organization time and money in the long run.


Planning a Migration Project for Salesforce

It is said that the way you take the first step decides how you will take the last one. A successful migration project begins with preparing a well thought out plan. At Cetrix, we divide every data migration plan into six phases:

  1. Preparation: discovery, planning, assessment of data and defining the procedures to follow in each step of the project, and assigning tasks to project team members.
  2. Extraction: exporting data from the legacy system, analysis and validation, creating backups, etc.
  3. Cleaning: data quality definition, data profiling, and data discovery. Error identification and fixing, appending missing data, deduplication, etc.
  4. Mapping: mapping fields between the two systems and adding missing fields. Creating a mapping template, creating a migration workbook that holds the data mapping for each object involved in the process, completing the mapping based on the workbook, and saving (exporting) the final mapping.
  5. Loading: importing data into the new org in increments and in a top-down order(e.g. loading master objects before details), testing each import before starting the next increment.
  6. Testing and Validation: profiling and discovery of the data in the new system, identifying errors and fixing, finding format mismatches and fixing, paying special attention to custom fields, objects, and codes, and finally issuing final approval to close the migration operation.


Success Factors

Each phase of a migration project is a success factor in itself, decided by the end result. But the Critical Success Factor is the mapping of data. If the mapping operation is performed well, all other problems can be taken care of with proper assessment and planning. However, if the mapping is not done correctly, everything must be deleted from the new org and the mapping and loading operation repeated, which will cause a considerable delay and cost overrun.

Cetrix places special care on the mapping operation in every migration project it executes. In larger projects, experienced engineers are assigned to this task in order to avoid trial-and-error methodology often used by some IT staff that do not have the required qualifications and experience.

At the end of the day, the success of a Salesforce migration project depends on proper planning and careful cleaning and mapping of data, all performed by qualified and experienced data engineers.


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