This blog discusses 8 questions you should be asking your sales rep about data migration when buying into a new Agency Management System (AMS) or Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software for your insurance agency. I spoke with Tasha Fitzgerald, Client Success Lead at AgencyBloc, about answers you should expect and what to watch out for.
1. How do I get my data into the system?
The system should have a simplified solution for you to transfer your data from your current solution. Most management softwares will be able to read a basic Excel sheet and extract the data directly from those spreadsheets into their software.
2. Does the file have to be in a certain format?
If you have a standard format for your data that will help a lot. What this means is that every column follows the same guidelines i.e. everything is capitalized, you use the same terminology throughout (like always writing Prospect all the way out), hyphens in social security numbers, and forward slashes in dates. In addition, having one section per column is usually helpful and helps cut down on errors (i.e. Column A= First Name, Column B= Last Name, etc.). You don’t necessarily have to follow this particular format, but having a standard in place will make a difference.
3. Can I import multiple policies for one client?
It’s definitely do-able. You should be able to add additional rows with the same client name but different policies on the spreadsheet and have them all go into the same client within the system.
4. Do you have templates available?
Your system should have templates available if you choose to go that route instead of creating your own. If you have questions regarding the templates, look in the help section of your software or call your support rep for assistance. And if you need additional fields not on those templates, you should be able to add columns for those fields.
5. What about notes and attachments?
You should be able to transfer notes over by adding them into an additional column on the same row as your client of your spreadsheet template.
Make sure to follow-up this conversation by asking the rep where your attachments will be stored. If you ever want to export them out of the system you will need to have access to them.
6. Is there a separate fee for data migration?
Some software companies will have a flat fee, while others will assess the situation and give you a quote. The cost will highly depend on the system you’re coming from, the amount of data you have, and the state of your data (refer to the question about certain formats).
7. How long will this take?
Again, this will vary software to software, but it can be as short as one day or it can take a few weeks. Like pricing, it will heavily depend on the system you’re leaving, the amount of data you have, and the state of your data. This can also be dependent upon you. Having your data properly prepared (refer to question 2) and being responsive to your support rep can help cut down the wait time considerably.
8. How easy is it for me to get my data out?
Now this is one of the most important questions you must ask. Many times, the hidden costs, delays, and difficulties during data migration don’t come from your new software, they come from the old. BEFORE YOU BUY into a new software make sure you ask about how you get your data back out.
Some systems believe that if they house your data they then own your data and will charge you a fee for taking it back out of their software. Make sure you ask before you buy if your data will still be 100% yours. If they don’t answer yes, then that could indicate possible problems in the future if you ever decide to go to a different system.
Keep in mind, every software is different, and migrating data will be unique for certain situations. The best advice we can give is: don’t be afraid to ask. Ask about all the costs (including any hidden costs or supplementary costs) and the estimated timeline for the migration. You want the transition to be seamless and to be up and running at full capacity as soon as possible, so asking all the questions ahead of time and being prepared is crucial for successful data migration.