Common data migration challenges

By Cidar Mendizabal

When we think of a data migration from a legacy system, we should think about what the term “data migration” means. To me, data migration means moving your current data to a new country. This new country is a cloud hovering above you wherever you go. Your raw data will have a different style, and it will need to know how to interact and participate with other data elements in this new country.

At roundCorner we understand that data migration sounds like a challenging, and perhaps even daunting project for your organization. However, with the right approach and the right people a data migration from your legacy system to your new system will have minimal effect on your organization’s day-to-day operations.

Today I wanted to share some of the common data migration challenges with you, and how we approach them at roundCorner.

The Preparation Phase

The preparation phase (or the assessment phase) cannot be underestimated as this is vital for a data migration to be successful. As a result, this is a common challenge that cannot be avoided. The goal of the preparation phase is to break down the data and business rules that apply to that data. Regardless of what new system your data needs to move to, your data needs to be prepared prior to the move. Thoroughly breaking down the data will tell us whether the data is able to coexist in the new system or if it needs to be transformed first.

Poor Data Quality

When you move data from a legacy system to a new system, you always have to consider that your data might be of poor quality. This is especially so when a legacy system predates the concept of email addresses. Can you explain why your organization has seven different email records with the same email address? In our opinion, the “why” does not matter anymore at this point. Instead, let’s focus on how bad the condition of your data is, and what it will take to extract, transform and load it into the new system.

Redefining the Business Rules

When doing a data migration, I always emphasize that we’re not looking to recreate your legacy system. It can be challenging for some of our customers: habits and business processes are ingrained and are not always easy to change.

Salesforce NGO Connect, Advancement Connect and foundationConnect allow for greater flexibility and power, but with great power comes great responsibility. While you might get excited about creating new business rules that you weren’t able to have in your legacy system, it is important to have a set of guidelines in place. We will help you with this and more, including the creation of a role hierarchy, a security infrastructure, reporting infrastructure and admin training.

Data Inconsistencies

Legacy systems typically do a great job in hiding bad data quality. You might not see any data inconsistencies on the front end, but often times we do find them in the backend. Data inconsistencies are never fun, and it is vital to not just move everything to the new system. Therefore, we analyze and triage your data, and work with customers to identify what data matters most to your organization and your bottom line. Pulling out the good data allows for better data management and better donor cultivation.

Lack of Collaboration

Migrating your data from a legacy system to requires a lot more than just the data. Legacy systems come with siloed data, where duplicated data sits between different departments. Moving your data to the new system means unlocking these siloes; not just between systems, but also between departments.

Collaboration between departments is crucial for a successful data migration. We cultivate this collaboration by setting a guideline of required data (mostly contact and revenue related) and the deadline for implementation, involving all stakeholders and putting emphasis on the outcome.

Cidar MendizabalCidar Mendizabal joined roundCorner in 2011 with over 10 years of experience in supporting and guiding nonprofits with their technical needs, empowering them to fulfill their missions. As a Data Architect at roundCorner, he is responsible for developing migration strategies that enable Partners and Clients to implement NGO Connect on While not hacking code on his laptop, he enjoys spending time with his family, playing soccer, and riding his bicycle around Raleigh, NC.

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