Information technology

Migrating CRM to Pipedrive – Experiences and tips

Pipedrive expert partner certificate. Experiences from Pipedrive. Image ratio 16/9.

Pipedrive is extremely simple for the sales people, but the implementation from an old CRM has some pitfalls. I’m not blaming Pipedrive for this as the issues are related to data migration in general. In most modern SaaS CRM systems the data importing tools are effortless.

If you don’t have existing sales data, implementing a CRM such as Pipedrive will be much easier.

I will tell my Pipedrive experiences from the CRM migration perspective.

Under estimating the amount of work in Pipedrive migration

Migrating from the old CRM to Pipedrive was a laborious project for one person. That’s mostly because of my broad role and under estimating details.

From the original description given by the client I understood that the task would be a simple data transformation. Eventually my duty was to work as an external consultant and a project manager.

The work hours went from estimated 50 to around 150 during the project. My over confidence in the sales pitch explains part of the extra hours. On the other hand the customer wanted to expand the project scope in half way.

For small amount of data and requirements one persons would definitely be sufficient. In a bigger project I would separate the roles of the project manager and the hands-on technical person.

Pipedrive entity definitions were insufficient

The single greatest reason for tripled working hours was the lack of entity definitions. We didn’t have a definition for terms such as contact person, customer organization or sales deal.

We did a big effort to transform all the data from the Fexisting system to match the Pipedrive data structure. Only after some time we realized that the same person could have been multiple times in the old CRM. In the Pipedrive data model the person should exist only once linked to multiple organizations if needed.

If we would have had only some hundreds of contacts, the issues would have been noticed early on. Instead, we had tens of thousands of contacts from different sources, which made the data validation difficult.

Considerations about Pipedrive data import

One pitfall in the data import was the handling of duplicate records. This is where it boils down to definitions of a person and organization. Think wisely whether you want to create multiple entities from duplicate records or merge the duplicates to one.

How do you know if you have the correct data in Pipedrive?

My recommendation is to validate the data with simple row counts. If the number of persons or organizations doesn’t align with your expectations, take a closer look at your data transformations. Sounds easy, but it’s not after joining and filtering data.

Data transformation tools for Pipedrive migration

The data was downloaded from the old CRM as Excel and csv files. The original customer information was then enriched with additional financial data that was purchased from another company.

I used mainly Microsoft Excel Power Query to transform, join and filter the data to the structure that Pipedrive demands. Basically the output should be individual files for a person, organization, deal and activity.

The problem was that Power Query became slow already with relatively small amounts of data. A lot of additional calculated columns were needed for the financial numbers. This increased the computational requirements but also forced to do redundant manual work with Power Query.

I would use pandas library of python programming language if I would do the transformations again. Python would solve both the performance and redundancy issues. The pandas library is a standard choice for the data engineers and the documentation is really good.

Designing the integrations when migrating to Pipedrive

Integrating Google Drive, contacts and calendar to Pipedrive is a walk in the park. Overall, the integrations are pretty easy to apply. Most often you get a redirection to a login page of the integrated service and that’s it.

The customer needed an integration to the email automation service Mailchimp. Once again we came together with the definitions of data. Pipedrive and Mailchimp should have a common understanding about the customer and organization. For example, what should be done, if a person has mutliple email addresses?

When we did the project Pipedrive didn’t have two-way Mailchimp integration available. The automation worked only from Mailchimp to Pipedrive. The integration platform Zapier is often a good choice in these situations, but we were out of luck this time.

We decided to use a detour to make the integration work also from Pipedrive to Mailchimp direction. The data was downloaded monthly from Pipedrive to an Excel sheet. An automated Excel macro would then process the data to the Mailchimp suitable format to be imported to Mailchimp.

Summary about migrating the old CRM to Pipedrive

A CRM migration becomes more complex when the amount of data sources and the number of records increase. According to my experience Pipedrive, as any other SaaS CRM, is super easy to start with from the clean table.

I hope my struggles with entity defintions, data import, data transformation tools and integrations makes your CRM migration estimates more realistic.

Pipedrive is an excellent and simplistic sales tool for result oriented small and mid sized sales teams. The CRM migration struggles won’t go away by selecting some other system. Vice versa, I consider that Pipedrive has excellent tools to import data and mange duplicate records.

Data export is easy as well, so changing away from Pipedrive won’t be a problem either.

The number of Pipedrive integrations is increasing all the time, which makes your life even easier in the future.

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One thought on “Migrating CRM to Pipedrive – Experiences and tips

  1. Hi Mikael, Great article. I love the honesty and reality of the trials of a migration. Thank you for pointers to look out for in the process. In regards to your paragraph about the one way sync from Mailchimp (I understand they have a 2 way sync now) if you come across something like this again have a look at – they are pretty cool.
    Note: I don’t work for them 🙂

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