Data conversion is an enormous task — not just in terms of the amount of information being transferred from one database to another like Blackbaud CRM™, but also the time and energy your staff will spend to make it all happen.
Don’t let the size of the project distract you from the fact that it can be boiled down into a few (but important) steps.
When you’re planning to convert new data into an existing Blackbaud CRM™ database, it’s important to consider four things:
What data you should convert
Where should that data live in Blackbaud CRM™
Can the data be improved
And how you’ll know that you’ve successfully converted everything of importance.
Let’s look at each one individually:
1. What can you convert?
Look at the records that exist in the target database. Does the database you’re converting contain the same records? If the source database stores data that doesn’t have a logical home in the target database, decide if it makes sense to bring that data over at all.
While hoarding data can sometimes feel like the safest thing to do, it may not be the smartest move if it perpetuates a junk-drawer approach to managing data.
2. What should you convert after giving it some attention? And when is the best time to tend to it?
Having a place in the target database may not be enough to warrant converting data from the source database. If the data is incomplete or potentially incorrect, this could be an opportunity to start fresh with data you can trust to be accurate.
If data is of value and can be cleaned and/or appended, determine where this cleanup will be easiest. Your options are pre-, mid-, or post-conversion, and certain cleanup may be easier to do at different stages of the conversion. The BrightVine Data Link can be an excellent resource for converting and transforming your data mid-conversion - after you've gotten out of the source system, but before it's committed to Blackbaud CRM™.
3. What is missing?
Determine which fields are required in your target database and if the source database houses that data. If not, you’ll need to append that data during your conversion.
Aside from writing custom conversion code, if you're using the BrightVine Data Link, you can stage data from your legacy systems and use those values to default or add the information required for record creation. Adding data as an attribute or as a default setting during your conversion are two options for adding the data required to generate a record.
4. How do you audit your conversion?
While you want your source data to fit in nicely in the target database, you also want a way to distinguish the data from the existing data in your target database. Consider adding a prefix to record IDs such as constituent, revenue, and interaction lookup IDs.
If you can easily query on the records you converted, you can accurately keep track of what you brought over. This will allow you to audit your conversion and ensure that you are migrating what you expect to bring over.