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

82 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erroneous data in the migrated dataset, deleting duplicates, changing formats, and finding and removing unwanted or outdated information.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

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

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Common Salesforce data migration challenges

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



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


Lack of proper migration planning



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.

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.


Underestimating data complexity



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.

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


Insufficient 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.

Advantages of Salesforce data migration

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


Does Salesforce support data migration?

How long does Salesforce data migration take?