POV: Do Data Migration Right
Lean into best practices with insight from Boostr’s Senior Director of Data Solutions
It can be a daunting process to migrate data from one place—whether it’s a spreadsheet or a CRM or OMS solution—to another. What if it takes a long time? What if data is lost? What if we like how we’ve always done things—even if it's not efficient?
Despite their qualms, most publishers reach a point where they can no longer afford deficient systems, human error, lacking features, and lagging automation. Their poor systems start to impede growth and profits. That’s when change becomes necessary.
“It’s normal to feel scared,” says Marta Tartar, Senior Director of Data Solutions at Boostr. “There’s always nervous energy around the project, but on the migration side, we’re your data therapists. We do this all the time. Let us handle some of the emotions and help you do it right.”
As a “data therapist” who has overseen countless data migrations in her career, Tartar outlined best practices that can set publishers up for a smooth migration and successful use of their software in the long term.
#1: Mindset matters
“Teams often get really attached to how they’ve always done things,” Tartar says. “But for them to get the best recommendations and, ultimately, have the best experience, they have to get out of that stuck mindset and be open to change. That’s the only way we can make their data work best for them.”
Embracing change and cultivating a growth mindset help publishers not just make the most of their transition to a new OMS or CRM system but also to continually nurture new ideas and experiences. By encouraging change, businesses encourage innovation, identify new opportunities, and cultivate the ability to grab them.
“We get the best results when people are open to listening, collaborating, and changing,” Tartar says. “It allows the new system to do what it does best.”
#2: Manage change collaboratively
Having a defined and collaborative protocol in place for supporting change at the enterprise level is crucial for success. Synergistic change has the power to buoy team morale, bypass glitches, and boost adherence.
“Data migrations that go well have the right people involved in the conversation,” Tartar observes. “My advice is always to make sure you’re not making big changes in a silo. At Boostr, our data teams work in strong partnerships with onboarding teams to have conversations about quality. We make sure the right people are getting involved in the conversation—the ones who will be using the system—to make sure we’re not missing a specific area of business, a specific piece of data, or an important validation. We can do a lot independently, but we need these insights to make systems perform really well.”
A collaborative change process allows team members to voice concerns, raise objections, and ask questions early in the process. Not only does this increase trust and buy-in, but it also ensures the system being integrated works well for its users. If sellers and Ad Ops personnel don’t actually use the system, it’s not worth the investment.
#3: Start with strategy
Once the right people are at the table, it’s important to ask the right questions. What do you want to do with your system moving forward? What business question does the data need to answer? How will staff use it? The answers can guide the migration and onboarding of the new system.
“Having strategic conversations early helps teams identify what their needs are,” Tartar says. “It helps them identify what they need to bring to the table to make sure this is successful. When we have this strategic framework, we can do more than a historical upload and improve the data architecture in real-time. We merge the historical data with the new system, thinking about it holistically to make it relevant in its current and future state.”
The aim of migrating data and onboarding a new system is always to make the ad management experience better. Mindful curation of what should be moved to the new system or left behind starts the process off on the right foot.
#4: Take the opportunity to declutter
It is possible to migrate your data without cleaning it first. But while that method may offer speed upfront, it tends to hamstring functionality later. Decluttering data is really just a process of eliminating outdated and duplicate files or any data that is no longer useful to operations. It can accelerate the migration of the data and improve the efficiency of the system being adopted.
“It’s important to make sure what you’re putting in place in your new system is valuable,” Tartar offers. “Because we on the data side also work with analytics, we see how data out is informed by data in. If you haven’t cleaned it on the way in, you’re not going to get good insights. That’s why clean-up and curation upfront are so important.”
Getting started can be as simple as identifying extraneous data, verifying data relevance, and filling out missing data across important objects and fields. Once data is assessed, teams can move forward with greater confidence.
#5 Seek customer service
Data migration is a big project, but you don’t have to do it alone. When selecting a partner to work with, seek collaborators with deep experience and a high level of customer service that doesn’t end when migration is complete.
“It’s a huge asset when a migration team is experienced. When they’ve done it a lot, and in different environments, it means they don’t shy away from complicated messes and are really good at identifying patterns, source data, modeling, and building as much as possible upfront to shorten the ‘dark period,’” Tartar says.
Partners with customer service baked into their business ethos are also uniquely equipped to guide the process and help publishers through the trickiest parts of migration. “Coaching goes really far. So does care. It eases anxieties and smooths the way forward when clients feel taken care of,” Tartar says.
Change can spike cortisol levels. But having skilled and experienced partners on your side can reduce stress and ensure that all efforts build toward meaningful, lasting results.
“I have a Post-it note above my desk,” Tartar says. “I put it up years ago, but it still holds true. It says, ‘We don’t stop until something is fixed.’ We’re with the client through thick and thin. It still holds true, and it’s something I’m really proud of.”
At Boostr, we’ve built our platform to meet the needs of media businesses, even as the landscape changes. We understand the importance of speed and agility but also of getting it right. Our data migration team operates with these tenets in mind.
“It doesn’t hurt that we all come from the industry,” Tartar says. “We’ve all worked at publishers. We’ve dealt with these processes ourselves, so we can change hats really seamlessly. That makes it hard to scare off. We’re always excited for a challenge.”
Whether you’re migrating from spreadsheets or to systems that can better accommodate your needs as a publisher, Boostr’s teams are here to walk you through the process every step of the way—and after. We want to grow with you.
Ready for change? Let’s start a conversation.
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