Scrap the Spreadsheets: How to Successfully Migrate Data and Transfer Knowledge in Financial Services Firms

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Historically, capital markets firms have operated by using spreadsheets, emails-as-a-filing-cabinet, back-of-napkin notes, memos, and people’s memories. Now, these same firms are looking introspectively to expose their own internal operational shortcomings, as well as the opportunities that lie within the margins. Further to this point, we have surveyed over 2,500 private equity firms (non-clients), and over 50 percent of them claimed they had no technology established in-house.

 

The firms in the minority – those that had generic CRM platforms installed at the time of the survey – did so with the hope that the technology platform would either a) help improve dealmaker productivity b) create better transparency, or c) establish better processes. Across all segments of the capital markets, 50 percent of firms who become DealCloud clients are using generic CRMs like Salesforce, Microsoft Dynamics, or other horizontal platforms in conjunction with data lists in Microsoft Excel when they decide to make the switch to DealCloud. With that comes the task of migrating data out of those systems and into the new solution.

 

For most, data migration seems like a daunting process, but with over 400 successful transfers from generic CRMs, and over 300 successful transfers from spreadsheets, we consider ourselves experts in the field. Below, we explore our top three tips for ensuring your firm’s data is migrated optimally and your team’s institutional knowledge is transferred.

 

First, analyze and organize the data you have before you begin the migration process. You need to know what you’re transferring, how and where it’s currently formatted, and, if needed, input a plan to streamline all that data into cohesive sets that can be easily accessed. “Messy” datasets can make data migration a mess, so the less confusion before, the easier the migration will be. Throughout this process, be sure to discuss with team members across the organization – from Analyst to Managing Director – about the data sets they require in their day-to-day work. Without an all-encompassing view of the firm’s data ecosystem, the technology provider won’t be able to create a solution that is truly representative of the firm.

 

After that, make sure you have a good timeline for the data migration. Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither will your data migration process. Make sure employees who need to know are aware of the timeline and understand its implications of not getting on board with the project. When moving your company’s data, it’s essential that everyone working on the project is on the same page, and buy-in and participation from the Executive-level is critical.

 

Finally, ensure you backup before and audit after. While data loss and unexpected problems tend not to arise in DealCloud-led migration projects, it’s always wise to have a Plan B, so to speak. Manage this risk before it happens by having tested backups of the data involved in the transfer. And to ensure the data migration is running correctly, make sure you have a system to audit the data to double check that everything is going smoothly. The implementation and migration teams assigned to your project will certainly help guide and advise you in this process if your capital markets firm has never done it before.

 

Any data migration can be tricky but there are ways to prepare yourself for the undertaking. Clean and organized data sets will help you with a clean transfer, having a plan and proposed timing for the process will ensure a cohesive workstream, and backups and audits of your data make certain your information is safe both before, during, and after the migration.

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