SugarCRM Data Import Gotchas

sugarcrmdevelopers —  June 5, 2013

Beginning the process of importing data and information into SugarCRM can create feelings similar to those you might experience when opening the package of some new tech gadget you purchased on Amazon. You want to start using it as fast as you can, taking no care to read the instruction manual. You’ll simply figure it out along the way!

Likewise, when you’re ready to start importing, you want to do it as soon as possible. You may experience an initial impulse to bypass any advanced planning, jump right in, and begin utilizing the SugarCRM import feature.  The SugarCRM Import utility will surely remove all the guesswork and the process will only take a few minutes, right? Not so fast. 

Before you grab your CSV file and start importing, take a moment to plan ahead and make sure all your ducks are in a row. The fact remains that transporting data in between systems takes foresight no matter how small the file. Without planning, you may end up importing the seemingly small CSV file multiple times into SugarCRM before you get it right. Then you’re left with duplicate data, which creates a whole new mess to deal with.

There are a few things that could halt your import into SugarCRM, some of the most common being:

  • Transformations

Transformations are also known as the disconnect between data coming from one system that needs to be displayed in a different way in another system like SugarCRM.

  • A simple example of this would be that your existing system offers a Yes/No dropdown option. However, in order simplify the interface, it is added as a checkbox into SugarCRM. 
  • A more complex example would be that there is a free form text box in one system, where everyone has typed in data that is ALMOST the same but all options need to be a dropdown in SugarCRM.

The simple example of a the yes/no dropdown can be tackled using an Excel spreadsheet, however the complex issue with a free form text field will quickly drain your time if not planned for and properly handled.

  • New Fields

New Fields are another very common issue that can cause complications, if overlooked, when preparing an import for your SugarCRM system. You should ask yourself: are you going to have to create new fields to import your data into SugarCRM? If so, it may not be a big deal unless you didn’t anticipate the extra time it takes to create 10, 20 or 50 fields to support the data import.

  • Field Matching

Field matching refers to how closely the fields in the CSV and existing system coordinate with the the fields that have been created within your SugarCRM system.

  • To explain this concept further, lets think about an import file with contact names and company names all in one file.
  • To accommodate this in SugarCRM, you have to complete two separate imports to make sure the relationship is properly defined. This will ensure a seamless transition of information between the two systems.

However, this also means that you are now doing two imports into two different modules, which may compound your work in other areas such as transformations or new fields.

Hopefully this post highlighted a few of the complexities that may be involved with importing data into your SugarCRM system.  Interested in learning more?  Contact us for more tricks of the trade and information about SugarCRM.