Migrating from Insightly to Zoho CRM has been a challenge so I thought I would share some of the stumbling blocks so that you don’t have to go through the pain if you’re planning on migrating.

Plan your migration window

Moving from one operational system to another can be your first hurdle if working with a fast moving business. My client was already a heavy user with Insightly, but had reached the limits of its functionality and Zoho could provide a more scalable and flexible solution to grow. Working out a time to do a full export from Insightly, import into Zoho CRM and be back operational within a short window is challenging. You can expect the full end-to-end process including testing to take 8-10 hours. Ensure that you’ve left a suitable project window and be prepared to rollback if it doesn’t go to plan.

Complete a Full XML Export from Insightly

Insightly has two export options : You can export individual modules with the “Export to CSV” option available on the right hand side of the screen in view mode. This produces a simple CSV file and does have its uses. However, it doesn’t contain enough “back-end” data to complete the relationships between modules.

To maintain the relationships between modules, you need to carry out a full XML export which is available through the settings. There’s an article on how to perform this function available here. This isn’t a pretty download though and may appear daunting to use at first.

Use the Data Migration Tool in Zoho CRM – don’t be tempted to use simple import

It’s tempting to use the simple import for a migration from Insightly. As it’s a fairly simple CRM with limited functionality, it seems straightforward to do a simple CSV export and use Import in Zoho CRM. You can maintain relationships between Contacts and Accounts using simple name lookup. The problems emerged for me when I needed to introduce Tasks and their associated Comments. These entities need to be imported using the Data Migration Tool and you simply can’t mix both processes. The underlying reason for this is that Zoho CRM uses IDs in the background to maintain relationships between modules.

Export Contacts as a CSV from Insightly

During my migration, I hit a problem with the XML file. The Contacts export produces several line items for the same record depending on what data you’ve stored. This meant that Phone, Mobile, Email were stored in the same column three times. Over several thousand records, the data is unusable.

To get around this, I exported the Contacts CSV which is available in Insightly in each module. It’s meant for a simple export, but in this case, it’s essential to export the data in a format that can be manipulated. This brings out another issue. The Organisation data is stored as a name rather than an ID so maintaining the relationship becomes an issue. The next tip describes how to get around this.

Create a VLOOKUP to match Contacts to Accounts

From your Organisations XML file, create a Lookup table i.e. a list of Organisations and their IDs. In your Contacts CSV, create a separate sheet for your Lookup table and reference this against Organisation name to derive the Organisation ID. This way, you can maintain the relationship between Contacts and Organisations (Accounts in Zoho CRM). To create the LOOKUP, use the following formula in Excel :

=VLOOKUP(E2,’Org Lookup’!$A$2:$B$1132,2)

Ensure that your Organisation names are in alphabetical order or it won’t work. Once you have Organisation IDs in your Contacts CSV, it’s ready for import. Continue to use the Data Migration Tool in Zoho CRM rather than a straight import.

Upload Users to Zoho CRM

To maintain existing user comments and record ownership from Insightly, you’ll need to re-create your users in Zoho CRM first. To do this, import them from a file to give them an ID. You can then use this ID in all  other records to assign ownership. It goes without saying, that Users need to be imported first.

How to import Task Comments

Task Comments are imported using “Notes” in the Data Migration Tool. The Parent ID needs to be assigned as the Task ID. My client had used extensive notes in the Insightly tasks and it was critical that these notes were transferred in order to maintain the history of each client interaction.

Import modules in the right order

Zoho CRM recommends the following order for your data migration. This makes sense as you build the modules :

Users => Campaigns => Leads => Accounts => Contacts => Potentials => Products => Cases => Solutions => Notes => Tasks => Events => Attachments.

Be prepared to compromise on standard sales process

When starting with Zoho CRM, I always recommend that the standard sales process is followed. This means going from Leads to Contacts, Accounts and Opportunities. This process makes sense in that Leads are unqualified, messy data whereas Contacts are very well qualified, rich in detail and are usually associated with an Account and in some cases a valuable Opportunity.

Insightly only offers a flat sales structure and as such doesn’t migrate neatly to Zoho CRM. With my migration, we had to work with the data first and Leads are stored as Contacts in the same way that they are in Insightly. For future sales process, I’ll be working with the client along with Sandler Training to streamline this ready to grow the business and scale UK wide.

Check date formats when using the Data Migration tool

Created, Modified and Task Due dates provide important historical data when migrating. When using Zoho CRM’s Data Migration Tool, it’s important to set the date format to match your data. There’s a number of options including UK and US formats and HH:MM:SS for time measurements. If they don’t match the data, then it’s unlikely to be migrated as expected.

I did notice that the CSV Export option from Insightly throws up lots of inconsistencies in the date format whereas the full XML export produces consistent date formats for all fields. Be aware of this if you need to use the Contact CSV export in the earlier steps.

Data Migration Module Order

For best results, you need to follow the sequence given below while importing data into Zoho CRM.
Users => Campaigns => Leads => Accounts => Contacts => Potentials => Products => Cases => Solutions => Notes => Tasks => Events => Attachments.

Opening XML files in Excel that can be manipulated

The files that are exported from Insightly are barely readable (strange tables to a non-XML expert) if you open them natively in Excel. You need to open them “As a read-only workbook” and then save them as a CSV ready for import into Zoho CRM.


Simplify Zoho CRM for end users

Moving from a fairly simple CRM like Insightly to a more powerful Zoho CRM can seem daunting for end-users at first, so ensure that you use “Organise Modules” within Setup>Modules to only present the modules that are similar to Insightly. In my client’s case, this meant stripping back Zoho CRM to Contacts, Accounts and Activities.

As the business grows, then other modules can be introduced to the users that require that functionality.

Use Find and Replace All to remove unsightly Insightly information.

When I completed the XML Export from Insightly, there was a bunch of erroneous tags in the comment data i.e “<p></p>”. It’s simple to remove these and any other tags using the “Find/Replace” in Excel. Enter the tag into “Find” and leave “Replace” blank to delete the data and ensure comments are neat and tidy for import.

Be organised with your files

You’ll be dealing with lots of data and excel spreadsheets. The Insightly XML export produces 10 XML files which then need converting into CSV files. Along with the Lookup tables, you’ll be working with around 20 files. Stay organised and only open the current module you’re working on ready for import. Once that’s complete, then move onto the next one.

Free Data Migration Service

Zoho CRM provides a free data migration service for any company who has more than 5 users and subscribes to Enterprise level on an annual basis. This can be a very cost-effective way of moving from antiquated on-premise CRMs or a system that your business has outgrown.

Data migration is a complex operation and needs careful planning and time to deliver. When you have operational systems in place already, it can make it difficult to find a window of opportunity. For help and advice in this area, feel free to get in touch to discuss your issues or requirements.

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