Whenever an organization decides to shift gears and move their information from one system of record to another, there is always slight apprehension. Data is valuable, especially if it has taken you years to accumulate and the thought of misplacing it or even losing it is enough to paralyze users into sticking with the older system, which may be faulty and inefficient, but at least reliable.
It’s akin to living in a house for 10 years. You may need more space, you may be unhappy with the layout, you may need something more updated, but ultimately you know where everything is because you’ve gotten used to just functioning day-to-day.
Now you’ve considered moving into a new home, with a fresh new start. The possibilities are endless and sometimes overwhelming. There are opportunities to compartmentalize your stuff for easy access; no longer are you just throwing things in the attic or storing in garage “just in case.” A move to a new home is a chance to get rid of the junk; the stuff that was just occupying space but not contributing anything of value. If you don’t sort through your ‘stuff’ from the old home, and just bring it over to the new home, you’ve done nothing but cosmetically change the surroundings. Junk is still junk, even in an updated environment.
But cleaning and sorting is a pain. It requires thought. You can’t hire someone to get rid of stuff in general, because you carry the insight of what is important and what isn’t. It requires time and sacrifice, but it allows you to move into this new home with a sense that everything there was meant to be there. And you can start your new beginning….
Data is very much like this. It represents years and years of accumulated Companies and Contacts and Leads and Dead Ends, Cold Calls and outdated Phone Numbers. A decision has to be made by your company of what moves to the new system and what doesn’t. Some organizations use a cut off time, such as if a Contact hasn’t been touched in 3 years, it’s not moving over. There are plenty of ways to determine what makes the cut and what doesn’t. But mostly they will be subjective decisions based on your organization, its philosophy and the man-power it has dedicated to such a cause.
Below are some common issues facing many commercial real estate organizations when it comes to moving their info from one system to another. Those legacy systems could be ACT!, Goldmine, Xceligent, or any other CRM.
Duplicate data: Multiple records for the same Company/Contact exist in your old database
Solution: Designate a team of individuals to sort through duplicates and determine what should be merged and what should be deleted. You only want “one version of the truth” in there. There is little reason to have multiple records for the same company. It adds clutter and confusion.
Incomplete data: There is insufficient information from the old system to fill the gaps in the new system. An example would be, Tenant ABC has a lease that expires in March 2015, but there is no indication in which Property or which location.
Solution: Qualify the data in advance. Either attempt to fill in the gaps or eliminate the data point completely. Just dumping a lease expiration date in the notes field somewhere is not an efficient way of tracking Tenants and their lease details within a Property. Every user will put their notes in a different place; making seeking or reporting on data almost impossible.
Ownership Issues: Each organization defines how ownership is determined and how relationships are managed. Can brokers “own” companies and contacts? Should there be multiple owners or teams? What kind of security should be set up?
Solution: The more thorough those questions are asked during a discovery, the more seamless the data migration process becomes. They are theoretical questions, that when put into action, affect every user’s experience with the system.
Lost in Translation: Despite the fact that most commercial real estate firms do the same thing, on a large scale, there are still terminology differences that exist.
Solution: A new database, in this day and age, should be able to speak your language. If you call “Opportunities” “Deals,” that can easily be changed. If you refer to “Properties” as “Buildings,” that can also be changed. The goal is to understand what language already exists in the new system, and see how it can be molded to fit your nomenclature. This ensures easier end-user adoption since there is not a need to learn yet another new thing.
Even with all of these points considered (back to the new home example), you will still have to research the neighborhood and drive around. You will still have to get used to the water pressure and the temperature. Just by virtue of being in a different environment opens you up to the idea of adapting to something new, which can initially be frustrating, but ultimately will become a second-nature habit.
We want to leave you with a quick tip about free data migration or mapping often offered by CRM providers. You need to be careful about what “free” will get you. As discussed above, you want to make sure that the data is carefully prepped and reviewed prior to moving it into your new CRM system. If left to another vendor or if you have only one internal admin map and upload the data, you could run into a myriad of issues. This includes duplications, incorrect record assignment and issues with user adoption. Many of our recent customers have encountered this exact issue – they thought they would be happier in the “new home,” only to find the movers had dumped their valuables and completely rearranged their new house. Take the time, and if need be, the additional resources to plan your upcoming move.
On a side note, we want to invite you to our next webinar on April 3 where we will review the AscendixRE iPhone application. Think of the iPhone app as providing you the ability and freedom to manage your activities while on the go. If you could lock the door, turn off the A/C and turn off the lights of your home with the touch of a few buttons, wouldn’t you? Click here to learn more and register.