Other freely available CRM data migration checklists do not have enough detail to truly be useful to your team. So, our seasoned data migration experts at Cobalt have drafted a highly specific, actionable CRM migration checklist in this post. What you’ll find is a crystal-clear sense of the process we have used to seamlessly and securely migrate over 200 clients to Dynamics 365 in the last few years.

If your business, association, or certification organization is planning to move from an on-premise CRM to a cloud-based solution, this framework will be easy to adopt or adapt for your specific needs.

Are you planning a CRM data migration as an in-house project? Be sure to also check out our complete CRM Migration Guide. It has even more resources and key considerations to ensure a successful project with minimum CRM downtime for your users.

Thinking about outsourcing your CRM migration?  Let us know if you have questions or want to schedule a quick call with our team to talk about the possibilities of partnering with Cobalt for this project.

Our CRM Data Migration Checklist Overview

Here is the high-level flowchart view of the CRM data migration project process we use with all of our clients:

Comprehensive CRM data migration steps workflow
This is the CRM data migration workflow Cobalt uses with clients.

The key objective for this process is to ensure there is overall alignment in the process of direct client data conversions and ensure all of our tested, refined processes are followed in the ideal sequence.

The key milestones for a successful CRM data migration process are:

  • A project kickoff meeting
  • A data project charter alignment OR data scope definition
  • Data mapping and initial data conversion
  • Data migration
  • Data sign-off
  • Go-live (data conversion and support transition)

Let’s take a closer look at these milestones and some priority considerations for your team.

CRM Data Migration Project Kick-off Meeting

This initial meeting is crucial for beginning the clarifications we need to ensure a truly seamless data migration from your old CRM to your new system. After hundreds of successful migrations, our team has refined processes we will employ. The project kick-off meeting is where we will explain those, and hear more about the needs and expectations from your team.

If you are tackling this project as an in-house project, do not neglect this step! It is one of the primary reasons that CRM migration projects drag out or fail altogether.

The primary objective in this stage, which actually involves a kick-off meeting and up to a week of set-up work and foundational preparation, is to achieve clarity about the process moving forward.

At this point in the project kick-off stage, the client (or your internal team) will need to provide some data sources to whoever is handling the CRM data migration process. The typical flow for this sub-stage looks like:

  1. The client uploads a data source to a secure FTP site and notifies our team.
  2. We restore the database to user acceptance testing (UAT) SQL server.
  3. We query the data source to validate that it can be queried successfully.
  4. If the data source cannot be queried for some reason, we validate the problem, notify the client team, and try again.
  5. Once the data source has been successfully queried, we are ready to move on in the process: either a CRM Data Migration Project Charter Alignment or a Data Scope Definition.

CRM Data Migration Project Charter Alignment

The primary goal of a CRM data migration project charter alignment phase is to ensure alignment with the client on the objectives, success criteria, assumptions, risks and business continuity goals.

It is crucial to clarify these things prior to the start of the data conversion and identify any areas where our estimate needs to be revised or scope reduced. For in-house teams, this is also where your investment in planning will help you avoid the surprises and setbacks that can tank your project or lead to badly missed deadlines.

Our project charter process typically takes about 2.5 weeks, which allows generous time for the client to review our initial draft, send feedback or revisions, and approve a finalized document. Here is a helpful project charter approval process:

  1. Draft an initial project charter (we use a refined template) that is informed by what has been learned in the project kick-off stage.
  2. After the project charter skeleton and guidance have been sent to the client, allow a week for review of the charter elements, collecting feedback, and scheduling a project charter meeting to finalize or further clarify its elements.
  3. Then, allow for another week for our team to absorb feedback and suggested revisions, communicate with the client, ensure business continuity, revise the charter agreement, and draft any necessary addendums to our initial estimate (in the case of discovered misalignment).
  4. All parties sign off on the agreed upon project charter and documentation.

Data Scope Definition for a CRM Data Migration Project

Depending on the client and project needs, after the project kick-off meeting is complete, our team may alternatively move into a brief data scope definition phase. The key objective at this stage is to align with the client on the scope of the data to be converted from the old data source into the new system (for our clients, that is Dynamics 365) and setup the appropriate scope in our software project management platform (we use FogBugz for our CRM data migration projects).

This part of our CRM data migration checklist includes the following priorities:

  • Set up and customize FogBugz with new milestones and customized adjustments to our refined project template.
  • Review the project charter and create placeholder cases for custom functionality related entities or modules.
  • Validate the high-level modules that need to be converted.
  • Identify any non-functionality, dependent custom entities that need to be converted.
  • Create module-level cases for any modules that don’t already have a case in FogBugz.

One of the primary goals of this stage is to ensure that no case related to data is opened during the project that cannot be tied back to a parent case created during this process.

Data Mapping and Initial Data Conversion

The data mapping and initial data conversion phase of this project is where you are likely to have difficulty and questions. And because this step can be so highly customized and specific to your particular CRM system and its data structure, no one can provide a one-size-fits-all data mapping guide here.

However, we want to provide you with the greatest level of detail possible in this CRM data migration checklist so you can adapt it for your own project — or know what to expect if you partner with Cobalt in a move to Dynamics 365. Here is a dependable workflow checklist for this critical phase:

Initial Data Mapping (Timeline: 1 day – 2 weeks, depending on project complexity)

  • Work directly, and early on, with the SMEs to discuss and understand the data source.
  • Our team will discuss each the Cobalt modules relevant to your initial migration, and document mapping and data transformation information to reflect our decisions and plan.
  • We will also determine and document champion contact records for auditing/testing/data validation purposes during migration for each module.

Initial Data Migration (Timeline: 1-2 weeks)

  • Generate SQL code to match the destination Dynamics 365 entities.
  • Write transformation logic from initial conversion feedback to entity definitions.
  • Migrate data into the client’s UAT environment.
  • Perform a test using the documented champion contact record in the CRM.
  • Ensure the data conversion was successful and no errors are displayed on records — or make necessary changes to the data conversion.
  • Repeat until all cases marked for initial data conversion are resolved.

Initial Data Walkthrough and Review (Timeline: 1 day – 1 week)

  • Review initial data conversion with the client (or your internal team).
  • Document feedback as child cases under parent module case (one case per entity for feedback).

Initial Data Fixes (1-3 days)

  • Review feedback cases, determine any questions, and discuss them with the client/team.
  • Implement data fixes.
  • Test data fixes and resolve all cases.

As you can see, the timeline for this part of the CRM data migration project can vary based on factors such as the project complexity, data structure, client responsiveness, and more. Plan for somewhere between 7-30 business days to complete the data mapping and initial data conversion under ideal conditions.

Data Migration

At this point in your CRM data migration project, all of the groundwork we (or your IT team) have done is ready to pay off in a seamless, secure data migration into your new CRM system. This stage of the project will look very similar to the process used in the initial data migration step in the previous phase.

Again, our team moves clients from commercial CRM systems (e.g. Salesforce), association management software (iMIS, Personify, MemberClicks, MemberSuite, etc.), and smaller proprietary CRM systems to Dynamics 365. So, this part of the CRM migration checklist will need to be adapted for your specific needs if you are moving to another system. A basic, sprint-based workflow checklist should include:

Data Migration Preparation

  • Update the software project management system you are using. For new sprint cases, update parent cases or create child cases under existing parent cases after the sprint documentation is approved with necessary customization information.
  • Review all cases to determine and schedule additional data mapping, if necessary.

Data Migration and Data Fixes

  • Generate SQL code to match the destination Dynamics 365 entities (if this is an initial entity migration).
  • Write transformation logic from initial conversion feedback to entity definitions or fix the existing logic.
  • Migrate or refresh data into the client UAT environment.
  • Perform a test using the documented champion contact record in the CRM.
  • Ensure the data conversion was successful and no errors are displayed on records — or make necessary changes to the data conversion.
  • Repeat until all cases marked for initial data conversion are resolved.
  • Once all sprint-specific data conversion is completed or feedback has been implemented, the client should perform UAT.
  • If a case has no feedback on case it should be “closed” in FogBugz.
  • If there is feedback, open a child case with feedback.
  • Once all feedback and cases have been resolved, prepare to move into the Data Sign-Off phase.

Because of the thorough groundwork and data mapping, the actual data migration portion of the project typically takes less than two weeks for our team. It could take a month or even longer for in-house teams or CRM migration partners with more limited experience.

CRM Data Migration Checklist: Data Sign-off

The bulk of the work is already done by now and the goal at this stage of your project is to finalize the data migration scripts and align on business continuity plans for the go-live. This is how we step through this part of the process with our CRM data migration clients:

Data Fixes

  • Fix transformation logic from initial conversion to account for feedback in the data migration phase.
  • Update data in UAT environment by executive data fixes.
  • Conduct testing, using documented champion contact records in the CRM to ensure any data fixes were successful and no errors are displayed on the records.

Client UAT

  • At this point, the client needs to test data cases, closing cases where there is no feedback, or providing feedback if there is an issue.
  • Perform final UAT of data by testing champion records identified during data mapping calls for all converted entities.

Update Your Software Project Management System

  • Triage and resolve any new, opened feedback.
  • Review all cases and determine if any additional data mapping calls are necessary.
  • Conduct a data review call (if necessary) to ensure any needed changes have been made.

Review the Data Charter and Business Continuity Plan

  • Now it is time to review the objectives and success criteria with the client (or your internal team) to ensure that all of them have been met (or are no longer relevant).
  • Should any previously unidentified work still remain, discuss and execute a remediation strategy.
  • Review the business continuity plan and create a detailed task list for each person responsible for the go-live.
  • Execute mock business continuity steps in UAT to confirm execution accuracy with the client and make any final adjustments.
  • Secure official documentation sign-off from the client or your internal stakeholders.

Go-Live Phase for Your CRM Data Migration Checklist

Finally, after weeks or months of planning, groundwork, and coordination, it is time to move the data into Dynamics 365 (or your new CRM solution). After all the complexity of the previous phases, the go-live checklist is fairly simple:

  • Schedule a go-live date and review the go-live task list (including business continuity steps) with all stakeholders.
  • Verify all necessary solutions are installed on production.
  • The client should now upload the final data source
  • Cobalt or your IT team should perform final data conversion.
  • Conduct a smoke test and resolve any issues that are discovered.
  • Execute the detailed business continuity task list.
  • Identify and resolve any issues that arise in the first days after the go-live is executed.
  • Transition to long-term, ongoing support in your new Dynamics 365 environment.

Other Factors to Consider in a CRM Migration Project

This CRM data migration checklist is one of the last pieces of the puzzle for this project. Our team has written extensively about front-end considerations it pays to address before you make a move to new CRM.

Many of those priorities relate to what — and how much — data to move from your old system. Those choices have huge cost and complication factors in both the CRM data migration process and the long-term monthly storage costs for your CRM system. Take a few minutes to review these other resources:

Do you have questions about our CRM data migration checklist? Would you like to have an initial conversation about partnering with Cobalt for your CRM migration project? We bring extensive experience helping associations, certification organizations, accrediting bodies, and businesses with 1-500 employees navigate this process with confidence. Reach out today and we will be glad to get in touch.

Download a Resource for Your Executive Team

And do not forget to take a copy of our Cloud Migration E-Book with you today. It briefly outlines some of the most common migration pitfalls, the three major migration options on the market, and more details about what you could expect from Cobalt as a CRM data migration partner. This resource is perfect for helping stakeholders outside the IT department understand the priorities, options, and importance of this project.