Migrating Your CRM? 5 Common Pitfalls to Avoid.

December 15, 2016

Is your company migrating or implementing a CRM system? You’re not alone. The CRM industry is continuing to accelerate. Gartner estimates that the CRM industry will close 2016 at $31.7B, that’s 15.3% YoY growth, with a continued strong growth prediction for 2017.


There are numerous reasons for implementing a new CRM. According to Capterra, which surveyed 500 companies of various sizes & industries, 40% of those that switched from a previous system, switched because their current CRM didn’t have the right features.


Whatever your rationale for implementing a new system, a CRM implementation requires significant time and resources. Despite the investment, 44% of businesses report migration failure. If your company is embarking on an implementation you might be wondering – what are the drivers behind these failures?

The actual data migration can be complex and is a cornerstone of an implementation. However, many failures stem from poor planning of an implementation. Below are some common pitfalls that speak to more than just the technology requirements:

1. Failing to Obtain Buy-in

A successful migration is based on more than a detailed GANTT chart. In order to implement a new system that is highly adopted, the “why” behind the migration is just as important as the “how.” This “why” is key for institutional buy-in and should be communicated to all levels from the executive sponsors to the end users.

Support from executive sponsors is critical as an implementation will be resource intensive. Inside a growing organization, there are always competing priorities and in order to ensure commitment from internal stakeholders buy-in must start at the top. For the end users, the roll-out will undoubtedly lead to some bumps in the road. During these periods of turbulence, it is important for them to have a vision of how this new system will improve their productivity and success.

2. Failing to Build a Diverse Project Team

Building a cross-functional core team is key. This team should include tech leads as well as business stakeholders across key functions including Sales Ops, Marketing etc. This core team should be involved from the planning phase all the way through the implementation.

Another important factor is striking a balance between in-house expertise and outside help. While internal employees can provide insights into current business processes, you’ll also want members of the core team to have successfully tackled an implementation in the past. According to David Thomson, an experienced Salesforce architect who has been involved in dozens of complex implementations and initiatives including and Salesforce Health Cloud,

“Organizations new to Salesforce should absolutely seek out external partners with lots of experience to guide them, but also look to build their own internal capacity from day one. The more committed to Salesforce a company is, the more successful they will be, and developing their own expertise and capabilities through a combination of training and hiring will set them up for long term success beyond the first project phase.”

3. Getting Stuck in Your Old Ways

You are implementing a new system for a reason. Too often, companies lose sight of that. Avoid getting bogged down with just simply migrating your data. This is the time to perform a gap analysis & identify ways your new system will increase productivity. According to Thomson,

“Often companies simply try to replicate their existing workflows and business processes into Salesforce without taking the opportunity to fix longstanding inefficiencies. While Salesforce is incredibly flexible and customizable, it also has many best practices baked into its architecture that should be leveraged, and so companies should take the time to refine and streamline rather than just blindly replicating what they have always done.”

4. Attempting to Boil the Ocean

Not all process changes should be implemented on day one. Determine key processes you want to change & pick a pilot team to test with. A pilot test will help determine whether processes are working as intended as it is easier to collect feedback from a core group of pilot users. A pilot test also helps inform training before launching to a wider audience. Similar to building an MVP in product development, companies should find a core constituency of early adopters who stand to benefit the most with the least disruption to the organization.

5. Failing to Create a Feedback Loop

No migration is expected to be perfect. But, you should plan for a streamlined way for users to flag errors, bugs, etc. A shared ticketing list should be created to increase visibility into issues. This should be made available to end users, engineers and business stakeholders. Doing so will enable you to systematically catalogue errors and timelines on solutions.

Has your company undergone a CRM implementation / migration? What do you wish you did differently?

Ashley Minogue

Senior Director of Growth

Ashley is Senior Director of Growth on OpenView's Expansion team. She helps OpenView’s portfolio companies achieve repeatable scale via marketing, sales and pricing strategy optimization. Most frequently, she partners with the portfolio on projects related to improving lead funnel conversion, customer segmentation, sales process, pricing and demand gen. Prior to joining OpenView, Ashley was the Senior Manager of B2B Strategy & Analytics at Her efforts spanned marketing, BDR optimization & funnel analytics to help the B2B business grow by 9x in just a few years. Before, Ashley worked as a consultant for Simon-Kucher & Partners, the global marketing and strategy consulting firm known as the world leader in pricing.