How to ensure a smooth transition to a new CRM

Business & tech

To ensure a smooth CRM transition, you need to be strategic. From data management to implementation and onboarding, there are many moving parts to consider.

Whether you’re just considering a switch or you’ve already decided, now is the time to begin developing your CRM transition plan.

This guide walks you through the multi-faceted endeavor of switching CRMs and how to increase your chances of success with your new system.

Create a transition plan

Start by identifying a realistic cutover or “go live” date

If your legacy system has been around for years and your data needs significant scrubbing, then your cutover date could be several months away. On the other hand, if your company’s CRM contains data that doesn’t require much cleaning and has a simple data structure, then a 30-day go-live plan may be feasible.

Remember to ask key stakeholders about their availability. Your timeline will certainly be delayed if your IT Manager is about to embark on a three-week hiking trip in the Rocky Mountains. Setting aggressive goals is important, but some variables will be outside of your control.

Select a project lead

Who at your company has the right leadership skills and technical know-how to ensure the project’s success? For many organizations, this responsibility falls on someone in sales or IT. Look for someone who possesses the right mix of authority, communication skills, and empathy. After all, your CRM will be used by many people across many departments, so it’s important to consider the needs of all primary users and stakeholders.

Identify key dates & unanswered questions

Work backwards from your cutover date. Make a list of all the major milestones that must be accomplished to achieve your goal. Flag any unanswered questions that may delay your timeline.

If your new CRM offers built-in project management capabilities, go ahead and start using the system to manage the cutover process. If you’re switching to Insightly, you might consider breaking up the project into smaller projects that are tracked on a kanban board.

Build an internal communications plan

One of the main reasons why companies switch CRMs is to increase user adoption. Tell your users about your plan to switch CRMs and include them throughout the entire process. A weekly email newsletter can be a low-cost, low-effort way to keep users engaged and informed. Tell users about upcoming milestones and when their participation or input will be required. Consistently invite users to reply with any questions or suggestions.

Take a strategic look at your CRM data

Bad data plagues most companies to one degree or another. Switching CRMs is your opportunity to lessen bad data’s impact and establish a process for preventing it going forward.

For starters, ask yourself these questions as you evaluate your existing data:

  • What data do we actually need to be successful?
  • Which data challenges do we currently face and hope to avoid?
  • Should some of our custom objects or fields not be migrated to our new CRM?
  • Do users rely on workarounds because they lack the right data objects or fields?
  • Do we have duplicate records that must be merged or consolidated?
  • Which records (i.e., old leads) should be disposed of?
  • Does our current vendor make it easy to export our data?

Identifying your current data challenges and deciding what to import (or eliminate) is just the beginning. You must also work closely with your new CRM vendor to understand migration specifications, data import templates, and any limitations.

Planning for vendor terminology discrepancies is also important. For example, one vendor might refer to opportunities as “deals” and opportunity value as “deal size.” Create a data dictionary (use a spreadsheet as a starting point) to ensure each object and field is correctly mapped.

Insightly tip: Here’s a list of Insightly’s default fields.

Migrate data to your CRM & test it

Many CRM vendors offer CSV import templates to help you format your data for their systems. For example, if you’re switching to Insightly, you’ll want to access these sample files. Or, if you’re switching to Insightly from Salesforce, all you need to do is export your Salesforce CRM data and Insightly will migrate it with just one click.

If you need to format your data into the correct templates, remember to check your work before you begin importing data into your new CRM. Take a measured approach and perform adequate quality control at every step of the process. Here’s how:

Import a limited amount of data

Incorrectly importing tens of thousands of records creates confusion and wastes precious time. Initially, try importing a dozen or two records to make sure everything works as planned. You can always delete or merge these records later. Start simple, confirm your assumptions, and expand from there.

Understand your vendor’s built-in deduplication features

Many CRMs check for duplicates automatically when you import your records. Research how your vendor handles duplicates prior to uploading large data files. This step may save you hours of unnecessary spreadsheet work.

Compare your record counts

After completing each data import, be sure to compare the number of records in your CSV and CRM. Is there a disparity? If so, why? Do not assume that everything was imported correctly. Implement checks and balances to avoid oversights.

Check data reports for data linking issues

Use your CRM’s built-in data reports to proactively identify record linking issues. For example, let’s assume that you notice that your contacts and organizations are not linking properly. Perhaps you forgot to include the contact’s organization when importing your contact database. Or, perhaps you imported something in the wrong order. Either way, review your vendor’s support documentation and keep working on your data.

Tap into the collective genius of your organization to identify data problems

One person can only do so much. Two or more people, when working in close alignment, can do great things—and, CRM testing is no exception. Collect feedback from a few users across departments, teams, and proficiency levels.

Train your teams on how to use the new CRM

Users need to know how to use your new CRM to its fullest extent. They need to know how to enter, view, and manage their data—from anywhere and on any device. They also need a reliable process for asking questions, making recommendations, onboarding new hires, and staying up to speed on feature releases.

That’s why proper training and support is a vital component for any CRM transition.

Most CRM companies, like Insightly, offer success plans that provide onboarding and implementation support. Take a serious look at one of these packages and decide if it’s right for your needs. If you don’t have the in-house expertise (or capacity) to adequately train and onboard users, then a CRM success plan may pay for itself.

Smooth sailing with your new CRM

Implementing a new CRM can be challenging. It’s also an excellent opportunity to convert your business data into something more meaningful and valuable.

Take time to plan out your transition, look at your data strategically, migrate with prudence, and keep your users well-trained. In doing so, your CRM will become what you’ve always wanted it to be: the source of truth that helps you accelerate your company’s growth.

Ready to switch? Request a demo and a free needs assessment with Insightly to see if it’s the right choice for your business.


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