Tips & tricks for customer experience with SAP – #1: Data migration
In the “Tips & tricks for customer experience with SAP” rubric, we provide some helpful practical tips. In the first installment, we will focus on data migration – a topic that frequently creates headaches for those involved, but which is crucial for project success.
The conversion to a new CRM (customer relationship management) system brings new opportunities, but also some challenges with which our valantic experts Heiko Rohde and Hairong Chen are confronted over and over: a large quantity of customer data should be brought from one system into the other without losing valuable information. How can data be transferred from Microsoft (MS) Dynamics on-premise to the SAP Sales Cloud most easily? Our experts explain how they tackled this challenge with a solution developed in-house in the first installment of “Tips & tricks for CRM and customer experience with SAP.”
Hello Hairong, hello Haiko. Thank you very much for speaking to us.
To start with: what’s your tip, summarized in one sentence?
Hairong: It is possible use a solution developed in-house to transfer a large quantity of customer data quickly and efficiently from Microsoft (MS) Dynamics on-premise to the SAP Sales Cloud without having to forgo custom data fields and requirements.
What are the challenges with a classic move to another CRM system?
Hairong: A data import is often handled with Excel templates. These templates are prepared manually; frequently there are errors due to S-references and shifted columns, and it is a great deal of trouble to eliminate these errors later on. With the increasing amount of data to be imported, the likelihood of errors is even greater.
Added to this is also the time component: if the templates are complicated to convert in Excel, the migration time increases and the data may be out-of-date by the time it’s imported into the new system.
How did you overcome these challenges?
Heiko: For the migration of data from Microsoft (MS) Dynamics on-premise to the SAP Sales Cloud, we used a solution developed in-house that prepares the data to be migrated and makes available an export so that the data is available in the right format for import into the new system.For this, we relied on our data preparation and integration knowledge, gleaned from many data warehouse projects.
In the first step, a migration database was created in the MS Dynamics MS SQL Server in order to map the target structure for the SAP Sales Cloud. These target structures correspond 1:1 to the data fields and data types of the SAP system, with the goal of preparing the import there as well as possible. In the second step, we had to develop a mapping; that is, a connection of the MS Dynamics data to the SAP structures. Using ETL (Extract, Transform, Load) and SQL, the data was transferred to the target structures, saved in the target database, and a process established that can be repeated as many times as desired at the touch of a button. The advantage is that our colleagues in the department in question can continue working with the MS Dynamic solution, so there is no need for a longer-term freezing of the systems. Up-to-date data can always be loaded again for tests and quality assurance at the touch of a button.
Another important aspect that speaks for the use of our migration database solution is the challenge of ID mapping for both systems. MS Dynamics uses different IDs to connect the objects while the SAP Sales Cloud relies on the concept of business partner numbers, which are uniform across the entire system. If, for example, you want to migrate a customer’s communications, first you need an export of the business partner numbers in order to ensure the correct assignment. Where otherwise S-references are required in large, time-consuming Excel files in order to link data, with our solution, we can perform a quick, error-free mapping.
To export the data from the SAP migration database, we have developed a Powershell script that provides the necessary exports in the correct structures thanks to the use of parameterizable control files. For our project, Hairong was able to import the finished files easily into the SAP Sales Cloud in just a few minutes.
What are the advantages of this approach?
Hairong: One advantage is that you solve the main problems I just mentioned. The Excel templates are less subject to errors since the procedure can work much more reliably with the quantity of data. You also don’t need as much time and you can guarantee that – with prior announcement – at a certain time, the data will be transferred from one system to the other. After that, the data can be maintained in the new CRM system. That’s easy and efficient.
Heiko: Exactly! Furthermore, it is possible to migrate large quantities of data this way. The data is always up-to-date and consistent at the touch of a button. And this procedure can be used for other data sources, such as customer-specific data fields and structures. Here, we profit from valantic’s extensive data integration and preparation experience, as well as the flexible implementation of interfaces.
What should you do if you’re confronted with these challenges?
Hairong: Contact us; we’ll be glad to use our knowledge and experience to help you.
Thank you very much for your tip, Heiko and Hairong!
Heiko Rohde is Managing Consultant at valantic in the Business Analytics sector.
Hairong Chen is Consultant in the SAP Customer Experience Solutions sector at valantic. Their specialty: Data migration to the SAP Sales Cloud.