Migrating an entire company’s tech platform is like moving to a new city, state, or country. The planning, packing, and panicking required is a uniquely stressful experience. To make any move successful, you need the right amount of boxes, enough time to pack, and possibly moving professionals to make everything work.
Without professionals, you’ll probably run into complications that make the entire experience less than ideal. This is true of technical migrations as well. The steps may differ, but moving an organization from its current platform (or worse yet, antiquated spreadsheets) to Salesforce is much more demanding than many assume – it requires vision, diligence, and experience to get right.
Choosing an Experienced Salesforce Consultant for Org Migration
Healthcare and life sciences companies, in particular, have a lot to consider before moving data, processes, and assets into a new CRM like Salesforce Health Cloud. Salesforce Health Cloud features a comprehensive set of tools and functionalities that revolutionize how healthcare companies operate. Maximizing the tool’s potential often requires a certified Salesforce Health Cloud partner to establish a vision that transforms features into scalable solutions.
Finding the right company to help is a process. Fortunately, the Salesforce AppExchange has a consultant finder that matches you with a consultant based on your goals, industry, and geography. Additionally, we’ve developed a comprehensive guide to choosing a Salesforce partner.
Key steps for ensuring success in an org migration
Step 1: Establishing Consistent Communication
Efficient communication between the client and partner is critical to a successful migration. To ensure everyone is on the same page, it’s best practice to establish a single communication channel for all stakeholders, project managers, and project owners. This channel can be on Slack, Salesforce Chatter, or Email. Implementing this step immediately is crucial to establishing a shared vision, timely responses, and mutual trust. It also creates an archived record to ensure your partner remains accountable to its commitments, timelines, and deliverables.
Step 2: Developing a Vision
When coupled with strategic processes, a robust platform like Salesforce is much more than technology. It creates a culture of efficiency, unity, and shared transparency. The process of defining an organization’s migration starts with a vision. In the case of a CRM, vision is the ultimate goal of what a company aspires to achieve with a migration.
While establishing a vision, the migration team defines the following:
- What defines a successful migration?
- How will success be measured?
Collaboration is vital during this step. Vision is established only when both the partner and client completely align. Without alignment, the success of the project will be jeopardized from the start.
Step 3: Preparation and Execution Plan
An execution plan defines the steps that will allow the migration project to be successful. While it’s tempting to dive directly into development, proper planning requires a deceptively large amount of time. Planning identifies the resources, challenges, milestones, and tactics to maximize efficiency and minimize risk.
Preparation processes should include:
- Making backups of the existing data and platform
- Determining the purpose, scope, and timeline of migration
- Setting up a robust data governance plan, ensuring the continued integrity and value of the data to migrate
- Identifying the key stakeholders when design or data decisions are needed in order to keep the project moving
Step 4: Running a Health Check and Analyzing Existing Processes
A health check of the primary Salesforce environment and the platform to be migrated is essential to ensure that migration does not cause production disruptions, errors, or data loss. More importantly, the process ensures that the Salesforce org will be optimized for performance, automation, and ROI.
Health checks begin with assessing the status of the existing platform. The assessment aims to identify vulnerabilities, misconfigurations, or access issues that must be resolved before migration.
The health check processes also helps ensure data quality and determine platform readiness.
Step 5: Establishing a Data Migration Workbook
Determining how much data to migrate is usually a question of retention compliance, especially in healthcare. Migrating only essential data is typically a best practice, but not necessarily in the healthcare industry. Required retention time typically depends on data type (records, diagnostic images, etc.), age of the patient, and regional laws.
It is also crucial to determine which system will remain the source of truth during the migration process. This determines where data will come from, where it will go, and how the system will handle discrepancies.
The source of truth and the data migration plan should be outlined in a shared data migration workbook. This workbook contains a detailed list of information, including field maps, metadata correlation, and naming conventions.
Step 6: Migrating the Metadata
This is where the org migration actually begins. In order for this step to be successful, key stakeholders must have the ability to make informed decisions about the new data model.
First, the data to be migrated is analyzed to remove outdated, redundant, or inaccurate information. Next, metadata is sampled from the source org to establish the final structure. At this point, fields, values, and objects from the source environment are mapped to the staged destination org.
Any difference in data models can be adjudicated at this stage. Since the destination environment determines the structure of the new data, data is associated with the proper fields in the destination Salesforce platform.
Step 7: Migrating the Data
Migrating metadata is where most migrations encounter significant challenges. However, there are three best practices that can mitigate risk. These include:
- Using a single source of truth until the migration is complete. Depending on the nature and quality of data, this can be the source or destination CRM after the metadata is optimized and migrated.
- Masking data to protect sensitive personally identifiable information (PII), financial records, and any other sensitive information using Salesforce Data Mask.
- Utilizing detailed checklists to monitor the progress and success of every migrated file. Any necessary file manipulation that must be carried out during the migration must be entered into the checklist.
Step 8: Migrating Relational Data
Once the core data is migrated, the next step is to ensure the previous relationships between migrated data are restored. This step can be challenging because of the complicated nature of related records. To ensure that all relationships are restored, the records in the source CRM, their unique IDs, and other related IDs (such as parent IDs) must be carefully analyzed.
At this point, relationships between the destination and source need to be compared to ensure there are no discrepancies. This ensures that previous relationships in the source data are restored, since Salesforce assigns records new IDs during migration.
Step 9: Verifying Migrated Data
Verifying the authenticity, accuracy, and integrity of migrated data is one of the most critical steps in org migration. In this step, metadata, field data, and relational data are verified. For example, the system can ensure that alphabetic data doesn’t exist in fields requiring numeric values.
At this stage, clients can choose whether they need audit fields for each record to maintain data dependencies. Then, the data validation process spot-checks all data and generates a report to identify any exceptions the migration process encountered.
Step 10: Finalizing how data is handled
Migrating and verifying data on the Salesforce platform is rarely ever the last step in the migration process. Penrod takes extra steps to ensure our client’s data conforms to various compliance regulations in the healthcare and life sciences industries.
At this stage in the migration, the client may need to make crucial decisions on how they wish to handle their data. These decisions are often shaped by the Salesforce features and services the company intends to use, and any quality assurance tests they want to be done.
What Can Make or Break Organizational Migration to Salesforce?
There are several factors that can make or break an organization’s efforts to migrate data. The most notable are:
- Making key decisions around data without expertise or attention to the timeline. Any delay in decision-making causes delays in the project.
- Preparing end-users, leadership, and the business-at-large for when cutover will take place, what impacts it has on them, and what escalation plan is in place if they have questions or concerns. Internal change champions are key to building excitement instead of anxiety
- Determining the metadata that needs to change so that each business unit has what they need without redundant data. This includes decisions regarding naming conventions, label names, and field names.
- Determining how much data needs to be migrated, not only in accordance with best practices but by the standards set in regulations and compliance requirements.
- Determining if there is enough storage in the Salesforce org to move data over. In some cases, there needs to be additional storage or a backup solution implemented. Typical products include Salesforce Backup or OwnBackup.
- Determining where data and metadata need to be updated in the automation of the system. For instance, if the name of the account label is modified, is this action built into any workflow or automation that also needs to be updated?
Access rules are extremely important to consider before, during, and after org migration. Strict rules must be established to control access for specific business units, users, or external partners. It’s a matter of compliance, and companies can be liable to significant penalties if access is misconfigured.
Time is of the essence in any business. Org migrations must be completed in tandem with business priorities and technical realities. To achieve a successful vision, partners must:
- Build in time for a dry run of data loads to perform any proactive cleanup or error resolution before go-live.
- Utilize a full sandbox environment to test the data and processes in a safe place without interrupting production.
- Transparently discuss matters of sunsetting of orgs, tools, and contracts to determine deadlines from a legal standpoint.
Org migrations are complicated, especially in the healthcare and life sciences industry. While some internal teams are capable of migrating successfully, a team of experienced professionals focusing on the healthcare and life sciences industry can greatly reduce risk, reduce overall cost, and ensure the success of a merger or acquisition in the long run.