Introduction to Importing

Introduction to Importing


Sugar recognizes that we may not be your first CRM system and that you may already manage your accounts and contacts using tools like Microsoft Excel or even other CRM systems. One of your first challenges in evaluating or implementing Sugar, then, is to migrate your existing information for use in Sugar. Sugar makes it easy to import data. But, as with all things technological, there are good ways to import and some not-so-good ways to import data. This document highlights best practices that you can use to quickly get your existing data where it belongs – in Sugar!

Think Small

By this we mean, consider importing only the data you need and only when you need it. If your goal is to test-drive Sugar then you should consider the simplest route to display the bare minimum of data you need to assess next steps. Maybe all you need at this step is 100 Accounts and 200 Contacts. Later, should you decide to move forward with Sugar, you’ll have learned valuable lessons, upon which you can build more complexity:  more data, more modules, etc. Even now you may want to consider limited subsets of a broader range of data. Practicing a few times with ever-larger data sets is a good way to ensure success of your final production import process.

1. Extracting the data

Sugar’s import tool requires only two things: 1.   A CSV (comma-separated values) file containing the data to import 2.   A single CSV file for each Sugar module, like Accounts and Contacts and Leads See the application guide for your Sugar edition and version for all the ins-and-outs. We’re covering the simplest of cases so we’ll deal only with CSV files and ignore advanced options. This is the fastest path to getting your data in Sugar. It’s up to you to obtain the data from your existing system. For instance, if you’re using Excel, you can File > Save As and specify a file type of “CSV”.  Client-based tools like Act! and Goldmine have their own export capabilities. If you are moving to Sugar from or other CRM systems, you’ll need to contact them to arrange for data dumps. In Sugar’s terminology, Accounts are “Company” records, Contacts are the people that belong to account records, Opportunities are your sales opportunities (deals), and your prospects will be imported asLeads. It’s a good idea to name the files meaningfully, like Accounts.csv or Leads.csv. You should provide a header row in your data file that contains the names of the associated fields. This will ease the mapping process.

2. Cleansing the data

Open your CSV files and what do you see? Chances are there’s a lot of good, clean data mixed with cringe-worthy data. Now is the best time to clean it up; don’t wait until it’s in Sugar. That’s like putting a dirty air filter on a brand new car. So, what to do with the crummy data?

  1. Remove any identifiers in your existing data. Sugar creates its own unique identifiers on import. Identifiers are usually identified by “ID” fields. If the field value is important to you by all means keep it around but call it something other than “ID”. Sugar places special meaning to “ID”.
  2. See any duplicated records? If so, remove the duplicates.
  3. Sugar treats columns like date_entered and date_modified specially. It’s probably worth your while to create custom fields to store the original date values if they have meaning for you and not interfere with the special Sugar columns.

It may be a good idea to save the resulting, pristine version of your files with a special name like “Accounts_clean.csv”. This preserves the original data … just in case.

3. Prepping Sugar to Accept Your Data

If you see fields in your CSV file that don’t map directly to Sugar fields then by all means create new custom fields to store your data. You’ll need some place for that data to reside. Add new fields using Sugar Studio, located in the Admin area. Remember that you don’t need to spend lots of time with screen layouts just yet; it’s enough just to “throw” the custom field on the layout and finalize the layouts after the import completes to your satisfaction. You can even place the fields only on the DetailView for now and come back later to adjust the EditView and ListViews. Now that Sugar’s ready to accept your pristine data here’s a tip for you: create a smaller version of your data file exclusively for test purposes. Say you have a file “Accounts_clean.csv” from the previous step. You can open that file, remove all but the first 5 rows, and save it as “Accounts_test.csv”. This gives you just enough rows to quickly test the process and make adjustments as needed. Why wait for 1000 rows to be imported while you’re testing when you can gain assurance of the process using only 5 rows?

4. Performing the Import

Now that you are ready to import, we recommend following the “How Do I” guide for Importing Data to understand how to import. For the import, always import Account records first. If you import an account first (Example: “ABC Company”) then any contact, case, or opportunity record that contains that same account name (with exact spelling) will automatically attach itself to that account record. A relationship between these records is automatically built. For example, after you complete your ABC Company Account import, you import 3 contact records with “ABC Company” as the name of their account; those contacts will automatically become contact records associated to the ABC account. The account field in these different types of records knows to build this relationship for you. Once you have imported a .csv file, the system will notify you if the records were imported successfully. If they do not import, Sugar will tell you why. Sugar will also allow you to look at duplicate records that might have previously been imported into the system. You will then have the option to delete these records or merge the data. After you have imported Accounts, import Contacts and then any other records.