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Data Migration Made Simple: Own Your Data with Story Navigator

By: Idealist Consulting

At Idealist Consulting, we take a unique approach to data migration. A common concept in our industry is that "Your CRM is only as good as your data". This concept led us to develop a unique and powerful data migration process over more than 17 years to provide our clients with a strong data foundation in their new system. Our method is designed to make data migrations seamless, efficient, and collaborative for our clients. By leveraging our proprietary tool, Story Navigator, we've reinvented the data mapping and transformation process - providing organizations with thoughtful transparency, system ownership, and structure for long-term growth.

The Traditional Data Migration Struggle

In most system migration projects, the data migration process happens outside of your system. The typical process involves the client providing their existing data from their legacy system(s), whether in spreadsheets, databases, or other formats. The implementation partner then has to meticulously map each field and table in separate spreadsheets.

These spreadsheets become clunky data tombs - difficult to manage, update, or connect back to the actual Salesforce instance. Important mapping decisions and data context gets lost in rows and rows of static information, siloed from your system. Clients are left out of the loop, only receiving the final spreadsheet outputs from their implementation partner with little visibility or control.

Idealist's Innovative Data Migration Approach

At Idealist, we've completely overhauled and modernized data migration. Our process is designed to keep the migration within your system throughout the project while making clients true partners through seamless collaboration. This means all of the logic and mapping is documented and stored in the system that the client owns and can reference.

While this approach is flexible enough to facilitate any kind of data migration, our method especially accelerates migrations from legacy systems like Raiser’s Edge due to our team’s depth of experience with these tools, saving our client's valuable time. With years of experience helping organizations migrate from a long list of legacy systems, we’ve seen it all and are here to support our clients through every step of the process. Here are our key phases to successful data migration:

  1. Data Analysis & Mapping

    When kicking off a migration, our first step is data analysis. The client provides their existing data sources, often documented in spreadsheets or other databases. We then compile a comprehensive inventory of all the underlying tables and fields. We analyze key metrics like record counts, populated percentages, distinct values, and more to gain a thorough understanding of the client's data landscape. Our priority at this phase is ensuring that our team has a deep understanding of the ways the organization uses its data, as well as asking thoughtful questions to map out their dream data outcome.

  2. Client Data Decisions

    Next, we review the mappings with the client team to determine exactly what data they want to have migrated to their new Salesforce instance. Instead of static spreadsheets, this all happens in dynamic reports and layouts directly in the client's new production Salesforce instance using Story Navigator.

    This allows the client to easily decide on a table-by-table and field-by-field basis what data is important to keep versus what can be left behind. They can collaborate using Salesforce Chatter, getting clarity from our team, and making suggestions along the way. This built-in interactivity and transparency at every step during the process gives clients true ownership over their data migration by allowing them a seat at the table to make strategic decisions about their data.

  3. Data Mapping & Transformation

    Considering the client's input, our team of data migration experts collaboratively map how the legacy data will fit into the data architecture and processes of the new Salesforce instance. We carefully transform the data so that it will properly fit into the Salesforce context. At times, this may be as simple as manipulating a single field. Or it may mean a more complex transformation involving aggregating related data into a single data point or extrapolating a single data point into a more robust structure.

    Using Story Navigator, each data item is inventoried as its own record and can be connected to specific Sprints, Change Items, User Stories, and even Feedback. Clients can easily see the data lineage and relationships in their system, showing how their legacy data will map into Salesforce's architecture. Our teams collaborate in Chatter, discussing and updating mappings in a central hub.

  4. Migration Execution

    As data mapping progresses throughout the project, data is incrementally imported into the testing Salesforce environment, in lockstep with the configuration user acceptance testing (UAT) sprints. This ensures that the client is engaging with their own data throughout the project and completing testing with data they are familiar with. By the end of the Sprint cycles, and through multiple iterations of the data transformation, a polished transformation script is ready for execution at the time of go-live for import into the production Salesforce instance. This ensures a seamless go-live with minimal downtime.

What Makes Idealist's Approach Unique?

While the core migration methodology follows basic industry concepts, the Idealist Consulting team has differentiated itself through unmatched transparency, collaboration, and long-term data value. Here's what sets us apart:

  • Full Transparency: By migrating the entire mapping process into the client's new production Salesforce instance using Story Navigator, clients can readily see all the data mapping entities, relationships, context, and decisions made directly in their future working environment. No more static spreadsheets or information overload - just easy access to the data mapping DNA within Salesforce itself (where you’ll always be able to access it for reference)!
  • Adaptability: No matter what system a client has been working with, our migration method can be applied. Because our mapping system is flexible, efficient (thanks Story Navigator), and legacy database-agnostic, our process works the same way. Whether an organization is moving from Raiser’s Edge, Nonprofit Success Pack (NPSP), or other databases, we have the framework and experience to support them.
  • Seamless Collaboration: Traditional spreadsheets make it difficult to discuss and update data mappings. Using Salesforce and Chatter, we can have an engaging back-and-forth with clients around each field mapping step right alongside the Salesforce architects. Clients can ask questions, provide context, and make suggestions - no more endless email chains or missed mapping nuances.
  • Direct Connection to Configuration: Since everything happens natively in Salesforce, the data mappings can be directly associated with other critical implementation entities like user stories, test scripts, change items, and more. Clients can easily trace the lineage of their data mapping to the corresponding configuration decisions. No more trying to reconnect spreadsheet references after the work is done.

True Client Ownership

One of the key advantages of Story Navigator is the organizational history it provides. All data mapping discussions, updates, and decisions are automatically recorded and stored alongside each object's history in the Salesforce instance. Unlike spreadsheets that can get lost or overwritten, clients have an eternal, auditable record of data mapping context embedded right in their system.

This deep level of organizational memory enables true client ownership over the data migration process. Instead of relying on spreadsheets compiled entirely by the implementation partner, Story Navigator gives clients visibility into their new system from day one. They can see why decisions were made around what data to keep, actively participate in the field mapping process, and can refer back to the full migration context anytime. This unique approach provides an unmatched level of transparency and ownership for clients over this critical piece of their Salesforce implementation.

Ready to migrate?

The data migration process has historically been an overlooked and cumbersome part of any Salesforce implementation. Our innovative approach utilizes Story Navigator as a powerful facilitation tool, allowing us to provide clients with a greater sense of control over their organizational data mapping and migration.

If you're looking for a Salesforce partner to help navigate the complex data migration process, reach out to our team by clicking the button below! We'll ensure your legacy data seamlessly transitions into your new Salesforce processes while providing a thoughtful, care-first experience.

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