Four Data Cleaning Principles Your CRM Data Integration Project Will Rely On

Customer relationship management (CRM) strategies are increasingly popular with American businesses that want to streamline processes and data streams to make faster, more effective customer-based decisions. Nonetheless, when implementing a new CRM system, most businesses must consider how to integrate data from multiple legacy systems as seamlessly and efficiently as possible, and you'll almost certainly need to clean up any existing data you tend to integrate with your new CRM system. If you're about to embark on this task, make sure your project team adheres to the four following data cleaning principles.

Appropriate attention to detail

A CRM data integration project will fail if you underestimate the scale of the task necessary to adequately clean the information you already hold. A large company may have millions of existing records to integrate with a new CRM system, and you should remember that any 'dirty' data at the outset will contaminate your new CRM database.

As such, you need to adequately size and get the resources you need for the task in hand. Don't assume that a handful of administrative staff can cope with the challenge. Carefully consider each legacy system, and identify the skills you need to clean and merge the data. Project team members responsible for the task probably need to dedicate their time to this work for a fixed period, so make sure you allocate the budget you need to allow them to complete the task effectively.


Duplicate records will quickly contaminate your new CRM system. What's more, these records will erode the benefits of your integration project because they will use unnecessary space and confuse automated workflow processes from the outset. As such, de-duplication is a critical part of any data cleaning project.

A key challenge in any data cleaning project comes when you need to merge or eradicate redundant fields. For example, you may have an 'employer' field in one system, while another system has both an 'employer' field and a 'company' field. To deal with this, your business analyst will carefully need to undertake a mapping exercise that includes deletion and merging to support de-duplication.

Style sheet adoption

Given the scale of the task that is often necessary to clean up the data before migration, your employees will probably need to use legacy systems for some time. If they continue to add or amend data without any control, they will quickly contaminate data your project team has cleaned.

Style sheets can help you control data entry before and during a data integration project. Your people may initially find the task more difficult, but it's vital that you use these style sheet standards to control what people enter in legacy systems. Examples could include:

  • Date formats, such as dd-mm-yy or dd-mmm-yyyy.
  • Use of hyphens in telephone numbers.
  • Abbreviations of state names.
  • Adoption of acronyms.

Style sheets can create a lot of work at the start of a data integration project, but, once adopted, these principles can dramatically improve the quality and effectiveness of the data in a CRM system.

Security role definition

Various factors can affect the quality and consistency of data in a system, but security roles commonly cause problems. In simple terms, if everyone in the company can get access to every record in the system, the risk of inconsistency dramatically increases. As such, as part of your data integration project, it's normally critical to adopt a robust structure of security roles.

You may already have security roles in legacy systems, but they probably won't directly map to the structure you want to use in your CRM system. What's more, you may have multiple systems with multiple role structures in place, so your project team needs to undertake a detailed mapping exercise. As a general principle, you should always adopt a structure that means people don't have access to anything they don't need, but you should also have as few new roles as possible.

If you're about to integrate data from legacy systems in a new CRM platform, you need to make sure the information you have is as clean as possible. Talk to a technology consultancy, such as Practical Technology Solutions which can offer Epicor consulting for more information and advice.