Data siloization has been negatively impacting businesses' profit margins across all industries— and if you’re here, you’re probably searching for a way to eliminate it. Siloization occurs when a company stores its data in multiple places (e.g., Excel spreadsheets, employee Google drives, or even sticky notes) that are inaccessible to all but a small number of people. Resultantly, workers across departments often struggle to stay on the same page; collaboration becomes difficult, and productivity suffers.
Fortunately, companies can break down silos in a time-effective manner by employing a common digitalization strategy: data loading.
Data loading (otherwise known as data migration) is when an organization transfers its data from disparate sources into a single, centralized platform such as Salesforce. Centralizing data dissolves preexisting silos, allowing people in different departments to access accurate, easily-accessible information on demand.
Data loading is invaluable to an improvement-minded company; however, figuring out how to handle the migration process can be a bit of a challenge. This blog will address the questions you need to answer before investing in a data loading tool and help you narrow down which one is right for you.
Consultant insights: questions we ask our customers
Gerent regularly tackles transformations across multiple industries, and our consultants have a wealth of experience in facilitating data loading projects. To get an on-the-ground perspective on data loading, we connected with Gerent Solutions Architect Faith Hewson.
“We typically ask our clients a series of questions before selecting the data loading tool that will directly address their needs and accomplish their goals,” Hewson explained in an interview.
Below, we’ve listed a few of the queries our solution architects pose to businesses as they embark on the data-loading process.
Where is all of the data stored? How many records will we need to migrate?
At the outset, our consultants need to understand where the siloization problem lies and how severe it is. Resultantly, the first question they’ll ask will concentrate on narrowing down how many data sources there are and how many items will be loaded. Some of the common sources our consultants deal with are listed below:
- Data Warehouse
- Sales Rep's desks
- Note pads
- Existing CRM
Some tools work well with a lower volume of data, while others can migrate millions of records simultaneously. After identifying which sources need to be migrated (as well as the quantity of records consultants will be working with), consultants can evaluate which tool will work best for a particular job.
What is the quality of the data?
Next, our consultants get an idea of how much work will go into getting the data ready for loading. To assess data quality and accuracy, they typically ask:
- How standardized is the data?
- Do you have duplicates?
- How much augmentation or clean-up is needed?
This information gives consultants an idea of how much work will need to go into processing the client’s rough data before loading begins. Uploading inaccurate data will only create more inefficiencies, undercutting the digitalization before it begins; therefore, it’s crucial that the consultants (and the client) have faith in the data they’re working with before migrating anything.
How many different objects/tables of data will be needed?
Our consultants then ascertain how many objects they’ll need to create in the client’s new storage system. Because the purpose of data loading is to make it easier for employees to access and understand data through a single source of truth, organizing that data by subject in a clear and orderly manner is paramount. Some of the most common objects needing migration are:
- Accounts - a category encompassing the business’ account information, including assets, liabilities, and owner’s equity.
- Contacts - a category that displays all of the business’ contacts, including clients, vendors, and employees.
- Orders - an object that collects all information about outstanding orders.
- Invoices - a group where all invoices are stored.
Some tools are intended to transfer premade, standardized categories quickly, whereas others are designed to support the creation of custom objects. Whichever tool our consultants use, it must be able to suit the scope of the client’s request.
How far back into your historical data will we need to go to migrate the correct data?
Finally, our consultants ask about the quantity of historical data to determine the magnitude of effort required for the project. Historical data, broadly, is defined as data collected about past events or circumstances and is usually grouped by subject.
Much like the data volume issue, some tools are better at retrieving large amounts of historical data than others. As such, consultants will automatically remove those tools from consideration for jobs with larger historical data pools.
Tools Used to Load Data into a Salesforce CRM
Our solution architects generally use one of two tools when importing data for a Salesforce transformation initiative: Data Import Wizard or the Data Loader.
Data Import Wizard
The Data Import Wizard is best for jobs with 50,000 records or less and is most useful for importing common standard objects such as contacts, accounts, leads — and, if necessary, a few custom objects. As a result, this tool is ideal for smaller jobs or jobs requiring quite a bit of manual cleaning. The Data Import Wizard also benefits from being incorporated into Salesforce’s setup menu, making it one of the easiest tools to access.
Limited in capacity, this tool does not automate the loading process, and there are a few types of records that it does not gel well with. While it can load a few custom objects, it is most suited for migrating standard objects; businesses with records that do not fit the tool’s mold may find this tool ill-suited for their needs.
The Data Loader can load up to 5 million records simultaneously and facilitates both automated and manual processes, making it ideal for larger jobs. The tool also allows you to load objects that the Data Import Wizard doesn’t support, as well as schedule regular data loads.
Also accessible through the user interface and the command line, Data Loader comes built into the Salesforce system. Clients looking to import large amounts of data into Salesforce will find this the most accessible tool.
This tool is more suited for larger jobs, able to load 50,000 to 5 million records at any given time. Resultantly, companies that do not need such a large capacity may find the Data Import Wizard more suitable for their needs.
Neither tool is necessarily better than the other; the one our solution architects suggest will hinge on our client’s unique needs, situation, and goals. With the right tool, you can eradicate siloization and bring your company back healthier and stronger than ever.
If you’re looking to start your own personalized journey and experience the data loading consultation process firsthand, give us a call! Our consultants will help you address your data loading needs.