This blog post is based on an interview with Amy Lifferth, Individual Plans Specialist for Altura Benefits and has been posted with her approval and permission. Altura Benefits specializes in life and health insurance, group and ancillary benefits, Medicare, and retirement planning.
Note: Note: AB denotes AgencyBloc and AL denotes Amy Lifferth
AB: What steps did you take with your data to help make the migration process successful?
AL: We had to make a lot of formatting changes in our data. The exported data from our previous system required a complete re-work in order for it to be prepared for import. For example, our previous system only allowed us to input one phone number, then had a separate text field where we could type in additional phone numbers (mobiles, work, etc.). Although this was helpful, the text box didn’t format the phone numbers, (they didn’t automatically have parentheses or hyphens) so the numbers were written in a variety of formats that weren’t consistent. There were many steps taken within this process to make sure our data was entered in the same format and all of it followed the same rules.
AB: What are some of the biggest challenges your agency faced during the process?
AL: One of the biggest challenges we faced was actually exporting our data from our previous system. The provider was unwilling to help us export our data and put up roadblocks in different sections to the point that we were never able to export all of our information. Some of it we had to pull up within the system and write out by hand so that we could up-date our files after import. Thankfully, we were only with that system a short time and had used Excel spreadsheets previously, so we had back-up copies of most our data. The other challenge we faced was, like I mentioned before, the format of our data. The data we could export from our previous system was in poor condition and required many labor hours of meticulous work to get it all cleaned up and ready to go.
AB: What advice do you have for other agencies in how to prepare?
- Ask about data migration and the ownership of the data. After the experience we had with our previous system, it was the first question we asked when we looked for a new solution. Some softwares think that they own your data if it’s in their system, so make sure you ask.
- Try and have all your records as consistent as possible. It takes a lot more time in the beginning, but it’s well worth it since it makes import smoother and helps you get up and running quicker.
- Be patient and take the time to learn your new system. Every system has a learning curve, and it can be frustrating and time-consuming to learn, but it will pay off later. You’ll be able to ask more informed questions to your client support person, which allows them to fix the problem in a more efficient manner since you’re both “speaking the same language.”
- Use your client support person. It made a huge difference to call in and ask all of our questions. Don’t condition yourself to just try and figure it out. Things will be a lot easier and issues will be resolved much faster if you call in and talk to someone.
AB: Was it worth it?
AL: Absolutely. Taking the time to clean up our data before importing it into AgencyBloc was the right decision. It took a significant amount of time, but it made a huge difference in the long haul. It was frustrating at the time, but it made import go very smooth and has made the transition much easier on everyone in our office. Hang in there; it will be well worth it in the end.
Read more about Altura Benefits’ experience with data migration by reading their complete case study with AgencyBloc.
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