With a supporter system holding data from the 1970s and no single customer view, the RAF Association needed a data migration into a new CRM platform to future-proof its activities. Working with CCR, the charity’s marketing now has wings.
The Royal Air Forces Association, one of the largest membership associations in the UK, partnered with CCR, a leading data migration and data cleansing company, to migrate the data from the Association’s existing database and its newly-selected Salesfoce solution efficiently and effectively. The new system had been selected to facilitate easy accessibility throughout the organisation, to allow a single customer view and to ensure that the Association could implement consistent, highly-targeted and sustained communication with its 61,000 members.
CCR was chosen for its experience, as well as its ability to offer a fixed price for the project, which meant the Association could have a clear view of all the work required, the total budgetary implications and the complexity of the project from start to finish. The charity also partnered with Atlantic Technologies for its Salesforce implementation, integration and support services to replace the existing CRM solution.
The Association recognised that its legacy system was out-dated, highly-bespoke and in desperate need of an upgrade. More importantly, the data housed in the system was in poor condition and managed by one or two key individuals, which meant that branches using the data were unable to do many of the core functions required from a CRM system, including inputting data, communicating effectively with members, running campaigns and pulling reports.
The Association’s longstanding history meant it had collected vast amounts of data going back to the 1970s, not all of which was viable, and it didn’t want to bring over operationally-worthless data. CCR helped the Associaton to determine what data to keep or ditch, including financial information such as direct debit payments from donors.
“The existing system was wholly dependent on a small number of people who had customised the platform over time. This meant that the Association was at an operational risk should these key members of staff resign, become ill or be promoted,” explained Nick Bunting, secretary general, RAF Association.
“We recognised that our existing data held valuable information and insights and, if used correctly, could give us an accurate picture of campaign measurements, updates on new donors and help us identify out-dated information. The new system needed to be able to incorporate existing data, facilitate a number of different activities, help manage workflows, assist in fundraising, billing and collecting subs, and ensure it was easy to keep in touch with over 61,000 members,” he added.
Remaining operational while the data was being migrated was essential for the Association, requiring a seamless transition that didn’t disrupt the existing contact strategy and maintained all financial activity. Adding to the challenge, the existing data was held in silos throughout the charity, which meant that it needed to be pulled from a variety of sources.
CCR conducted an initial audit of the data, showing the number of data records that needed cleaning, updating, or de-duplicating. It also brought together all the necessary Association stakeholders to make vital decisions about the historical data and future use of the system.
This helped the Association to identify:
A carefully-constructed timeline was then created, taking into account the customised and bespoke nature of the charity’s needs and systems. Following this, Atlantic Technologies developed the new Salesforce system to be 80 to 90 per cent operational in order to provide a clear view of what the system would look like.
At this point, CCR analysed a full set of the Association’s legacy data to identify the amount of records, fields and tables it was using. The lack of reporting capability from the previous system meant that CCR had no definitions on different elements of the database, such as supporters versus members. This raised a number of key questions that needed to be carefully addressed, such as, if a donor hasn’t donated in the last year, are they still a member or just a supporter or both?
CCR successfully guided the charity into reaching essential decisions on the complexity of its data, how it would interact with the new system and, most importantly, deliver a cohesive, user-friendly structure for all RAF Association employees to operate, therefore eliminating the existing risk to the business.
“This was a complex migration, because the original system was customised and few people had knowledge and experience of how it was created. We effectively had to reverse-engineer the data to work out how the system operated and how the data was created, as well as how data records hung together. It was imperative to understand how the data would be manipulated and captured in the new system to achieve the same, if not better results than the legacy system,” commented George Tye, client services director at CCR.
Following this, a clear map was created outlining data sources and their destinations, with a list of all the tables in the database, the number of records in each table and the relevant types/names for each field. The Association then provided screenshots of known individuals in the database whose details they could confirm as correct. Using this as the basis for corroboration, CCR checked that, if they analysed the same individual, it showed the same details - eg, the number of donations made, how many campaigns seen, etc.
Data was then cleaned, de-duplicated, formatted, manipulated and coded, before being loaded onto a parallel, non-live version of the system to allow for comprehensive testing, before being made live. Although the project took a year to complete, CCR ultimately had to migrate the data over one weekend while running comprehensive verification tests to check that the information provided was within suitable tolerance levels.
Following the analysis, planning and set up-phase, the final migration of data happened over two days, on-time and on-budget. This ensured that all business processes and workflows continued uninterrupted. CCR consolidated and cleaned the entire database, transferring over 520,000 rows of data across the organisation and dramatically simplified and streamlined the migration process. The RAF Association now has a CRM solution that not only delivers on its unique needs, but also provides all of its staff with access to a more intuitive, versatile, consolidated and accurate database.
Bunting said: “This project would not have succeeded without CCR’s help and expertise. Data migration was an essential part of our investment to enable us to use Salesforce to drive our CRM strategy. It was one of the most uncertain parts of the project, which meant we needed expert help to deal with a very complex and business critical task. With Atlantic Technologies, they embraced the challenge, delivered a successful data migration, helped improve efficiencies and made the process seamless.”
He added: “Because we were provided with a fixed budget and timescale, we didn’t face unforeseen costs or waste valuable resources. Our team is now working with clean, consolidated data and we are able to have meaningful conversations with our supporters using a complete picture of how our supporters interact with us and how to better reach our members.”