Salesforce data migration: a step-by-step guide, top tools, and best practices

Salesforce data migration: a step-by-step guide, top tools, and best practices

Salesforce data migration involves transferring data from the legacy storage to a new platform within or outside the CRM.  Depending on the volume, format, and state of source data, Salesforce migration can be a challenging project. However, Itransition’s certified architects, developers, and admins can help you migrate data to Salesforce, preparing, cleansing, optimizing, and then importing source records into your new system.

About Itransition

10+ years Salesforce service provider

Internal Salesforce Center of Excellence

Regarded as Top Salesforce Consulting Companies by Clutch

98 Salesforce certifications

Competence with Sales Cloud, Service Cloud, Marketing Cloud, CPQ, and other Salesforce solutions

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Client spotlight

Salesforce CRM for a US insurance buyout agency


duplicate lead profiles cleared

Within the scope of a Salesforce CRM implementation project, we transferred the data of around 80,000 leads scattered across different Excel files, mapping and cleaning the data of duplicates before the migration.

Salesforce data migration steps

We thoroughly plan a typical Salesforce migration project to make sure data is transferred successfully without fault or loss.



We begin with kick-off meetings with the client and high-level planning of the data migration project’s scope of work and desired goals, timelines, and milestones. Based on the results, we form the Salesforce data migration team and select the toolkit.


Data selection

Next, we determine what sales, marketing, customer data, or metadata to migrate to Salesforce in line with the project’s goals and the new system’s setup. Our team also identifies data model structure, types, and sources.


Data mapping

We also match fields with migrated data and metadata from the source system to the target Salesforce apps to standardize data, make its transfer smoother, and reduce potential errors.


Data cleansing

If needed, our team will bring to order erroneous data in the migrated dataset, deleting duplicates, changing formats, and finding and removing unwanted or outdated information.


Destination org preparation

We set up the target and prepare it for data migration by creating custom fields and relationships for data that should be stored in non-standard fields. 


Data migration

Our engineers extract data from the source system and load it to the new Salesforce apps environment. If the data volume is large and requires a lot of manual effort, we can automate the data migration process. 



We check data integrity and proper transfer, i.e., if it stays in the right format and is complete, and fix detected errors. We also hold user acceptance testing to make sure stakeholders are satisfied with Salesforce data migration’s results.


Quality control setup

As the final step, we set up the quality control process to further help the customer maintain the expected Salesforce data quality. We establish the frequency, scope, and owners of data quality checks, suggest suitable methods, and create data retention and archival policies.

Best Salesforce data migration tools

Let’s compare five of the most popular solutions for Salesforce data migration on the market.

Salesforce Data Loader

A client application for bulk exporting and importing data from Salesforce.
Main features
  • An interactive user interface
  • A CLI for automated batch operations
  • A SOAP-based API for processing records
  • Drag-and-drop field mapping
  • CSV file viewer
Exported/Imported data
  • Imports data CSV files and from database connections and exports CSV files
Max number of records
  • Up to 5 million records
Best used for
  • Data migration projects 
  • Regular data loads by business or tech users
  • Free
  • Has to be downloaded

Data Import Wizard

A built-in data loading tool accessible through the Salesforce environment.
Main features
  • Data upload, upsert, and update
  • Deduplication
  • Triggering automations on import
  • Assigning Contacts to Campaigns
Exported/Imported data
  • Imports CSV files
Max number of records
  • Up to 50,000 records
Best used for
  • Importing common standard objects
  • Aimed at business users
  • Free
  • Allows for data import only
  • Limited settings

Progress DataDirect

A powerful and easy-to-use third-party data migration engine.
Main features
  • Connection through SQL via ODBC, JDBC, and OData
  • Built-in cache
  • Connectors to analytics and reporting tools
  • SSL encryption
Exported/Imported data
  • Imports and exports CSV files and ODBC, JDBC, and OData databases
Max number of records
  • Unlimited
Best used for
  • Moderate-size data migration projects
  • Monthly fee + infrastructure and usage costs
  • No free trial
  • Unsuitable for the ingestion of very large objects

A fully cloud-based ETL solution initially developed by Mulesoft and then purchased by Salesforce.
Main features
  • Task scheduling
  • Automatic mapping
  • Related objects export
  • Data encryption
Exported/Imported data
  • Imports and exports CSV files
Max number of records

Free edition

Professional edition

Enterprise edition

    Best used for
    • Large-scale regular data migrations
    • Freemium
    • Outdated UI
    • Limited functionality for a free version

    JitterBit Data Loader

    A comprehensive ETL tool for importing and exporting data from cloud or local databases.
    Main features
    • Operations scheduling and automation
    • Intuitive API creation 
    • Automatic backups to Jitterbit Cloud
    • Operation logs, queues, and history for easy administration
    Exported/Imported data
    • Imports and exports flat files and ODBC/JDBC databases
    Max number of records
    • Unlimited
    Best used for
    • Ad-hoc export/import tasks
    • Aimed at Salesforce admins
    • Tiered pricing
    • Can be complicated for business users
    • Rather pricey

    Best practices for Salesforce migration

    Best practices for Salesforce migration

    Dedicate some time to sorting out the data and weighing up what definitely needs to be migrated and what doesn’t. By being so discerning, companies can reduce the project’s timeline and prevent potential data migration conflicts.

    Always create a copy of the migrated data to restore it if something goes wrong and the data is lost or corrupted.

    Managing data properly when switching to a new platform can be difficult, so a data governance plan can simplify keeping track of data quality, reliability, and integrity before, during, and after the migration.

    To streamline data migration to Salesforce, create Excel templates or spreadsheets with the fields and format of your target system, and populate them with migrated objects. You can also reuse such templates in the future and simplify further data migrations.

    If Salesforce is a completely new CRM system for your company, the differences between its and your legacy system’s data structure can cause conflict during migration. We recommend migrating a small amount of data to a sandbox environment to gauge the potential challenges.

    We can ensure seamless Salesforce data migration

    Contact us

    Common Salesforce data migration challenges

    Here are the main reasons why Salesforce data migration can fail and how to prevent it.



    Lack of proper migration planning

    Lack of proper migration planning

    Companies can fail to approach data migration responsibly, considering it a low-level and low-risk project.

    You should understand that Salesforce data migration projects can be effort- and time-consuming and therefore require proper preparation. To cover all the bases, migration teams should ensure stakeholders’ buy-in, appoint a project owner, select the most suitable tools, and assess existing skills and tech capabilities to involve third-party specialists if required.

    Underestimating data complexity

    Underestimating data complexity

    Companies unprepared for data complexity, volume, or diversity tend to miss deadlines and are forced to extend the project’s timeline and budget to migrate the data properly.

    You should understand the data you intend to migrate, particularly data sources, structure, parent/child relationships between different objects, workflows, triggers, and other associations, and take it all into account while planning out its transfer.

    Insufficient testing

    Insufficient testing

    Having successfully executed the migration with minimal or no errors, some companies call it a day and skip testing.

    Seeing no errors during the migration does not guarantee that the system will perform as intended with data in it. Therefore, you need to conduct a thorough review of the new Salesforce org to finalize the project.

    Benefits of data migration to Salesforce CRM

    These are the key ways companies can profit from data integration into Salesforce.

    Improved productivity
    of sales, marketing, and customer support employees

    Efficient reporting
    with robust in-built reports customized to your needs

    Data-driven decision-making
    with full customer data readily available in one place

    Data workflow automation
    with Salesforce’s rich automation capabilities

    Simplified access to data
    with Salesforce being cloud-based and accessible 24/7 from anywhere

    Information centralization
    in a single database from various data sources and channels

    Advantages of Salesforce data migration


    Does Salesforce support data migration?

    Yes, Salesforce supports data migration and provides proprietary data migration tools like Data Loader and Import Wizard free of charge even within the basic subscription plan.

    How long does Salesforce data migration take?

    Depending on the scope of data and the complexity of its preparation, a Salesforce data migration project can take from 20 days to 2 months.

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