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Ensuring a Successful Migration from ACT to Sage CRM

Migrating from ACT to Sage CRM can be difficult and expensive: client data is extremely valuable and a shoddy migration will cost considerable time and money. With over a decade of experience in migrating to Sage CRM, InaPlex has firsthand knowledge of the sorts of problems that arise and how they can be dealt with. This guide provides a summary of the major issues that need to be addressed to ensure a successful migration.

The main focus of this document is preparation. Moving client details is a small part of the overall migration, and pointless if the wrong information is moved to the wrong places. Understanding the limitations of current data, the potential of the new system, and how business processes wrap around it all, are just some of the issues that need to be considered up front. Only with thorough preparation will the data transferred protect the customer’s investment and ensure Sage CRM’s benefits can be fully realized.

1.    Preparation

Thorough preparation and setup in Sage CRM before starting to move any data is imperative. The following areas are part of the preparation stage; some apply to most CRM migrations while others are due to fundamental difference between ACT and Sage CRM.

1.1 Moving from a ‘contact-centric’ to a ‘company-contact structured’ environment

Sage CRM is typically used with Companies as the main entity, with contacts (Person, in Sage-speak) related to companies. In addition, Sage CRM has leads, which are company/contacts that are not yet considered to be a real customer. ACT does support the idea of Company and related Contact, however most ACT systems simply use the contact record for companies, contacts and leads. This means when migrating to Sage CRM, you should consider handling multiple scenarios:

  1. Company records in ACT to Company in Sage CRM
  2. Contacts in ACT that are linked to companies to Person records in Sage CRM linked to the correct Company
  3. Contacts in ACT that are not linked to a company, but have a company name and should be linked to a company in Sage CRM. This will typically involve matching on the company name, which can be complex (Acme, Acme Corp, Acme Inc, …).
  4. Contacts in ACT that are really leads, have no company name.

Make sure you understand the new system’s data structure and capabilities and take this into account when moving your ACT data.

1.2 How will you manage customized ACT Fields?

If you have custom ACT fields, they need to be clearly identified when migrating, especially when looking at automated migrations. As a general rule, the more customization you have, the less automated the migration will be, so you will want to make sure you have the tools and expertise to identify and transfer customized fields. You may need to add custom fields in Sage CRM. If they are option set fields, you may need to set up equivalent option set fields in Sage CRM, and consider remapping the values from ACT to a ‘better’ set of values in Sage CRM.

1.3 ‘Garbage In, Garbage Out’ – consider clean up before migration

Your ACT data may have inconsistencies or errors so try to identify these before starting the migration process. Typical errors include fields that have not been treated consistently (for instance, names, dates, phone numbers, states and countries, and sales codes), or that are just plain wrong (clients may be duplicated or incorrectly assigned). Avoid transferring “rubbish” by identifying and fixing ACT data as part of the migration setup. Check that your migration product has the ability to remap values.

1.4 Identify and manage any multiple ACT Databases

Some clients have multiple ACT databases. Merging these during a migration can result in duplication, incorrect data and/or missing linked data, such as history and contacts. You may also have a cloned database (which you may or may not know about) and this can be bad news for migrated data. If you have multiple databases (and/or clone databases) manage these carefully to avoid creating data problems in the new system.

1.5 What are you going to do about record ownership and security?

You might want to replicate your ACT ownership and security in the new system, or you may prefer to take advantage of the new features introduced by Sage CRM – or perhaps you’d like a combination of both. What you don’t want to do is forget about this area; you need to have a migration structure setup to manage the ownership and security you require. Set up users and teams in Sage CRM, and decide on how record ownership in ACT will be reflected in Sage CRM. It may also be necessary to consider territories, and how records in ACT are mapped to new territories in Sage CRM.

1.6 Avoid losing Emails Because of Different Email Types

An ACT database may have multiple email file formats which will have to be transferred differently. Make sure you identify the email types you are using (ACT, .ima files, Outlook .msg files), and have the correct migration approach for each, otherwise, you may find at some point that emails seem to have “disappeared”.

1.7 Identify any attached Documents that need migration

In ACT many emails and history records may have attached documents. You need to check that your migration process can move the attached documents to the appropriate location in Sage CRM and correctly link them in. In addition, make sure that you have permissions on the Library directory in your Sage CRM installation.

1.8 Work out what needs to be transferred – do you really need everything?

Although it’s possible to transfer everything to the new CRM system, there’s no point cluttering it with data that isn’t actually needed. Some companies decide to only transfer 5 years of history, for instance, or limit the number of linked documents brought across – especially if migrating to an online CRM system that charges for storage.

Once you’ve identified the data to be moved, cleaned it up, transformed it (if needed), and worked out where it will go and how it will be used in Sage CRM, you are ready to start migrating your legacy data.

2.    Running the Migration

2.1 Test, Test, Test, and then some more….

Running test migrations will let you verify that your preparation is complete, and helps identify problems and omissions. It is advised that you run several test migrations to refine the migration set-up. Try and select a small set of representative data to run the migration against so that you can check for the following:

  • Has security been set up correctly?
  • Did all the custom fields populate with the expected values?
  • Did all the history come across with the correct links and scheduling?
  • Are communications and opportunities set up with correct status and stage?

Most importantly – test with the end users. Is the data shaping up the way they expect, and does it fit with the way the teams will be using it? Is reporting working as expected? If you are using an automated migration tool make sure you can test at the individual level. Testing is a great way of ensuring that decisions involve all necessary parties and that the setup in Sage CRM will meet your business needs. Once data is migrated you have to live with the consequences of your decisions, so do all you can to get it right..

2.2 The Final Run

When you are ready to cut over to Sage CRM, make sure you understand how long the final import of data will take. All affected parties need to be fully informed, and the impact on business minimized.

It sounds obvious, but also make sure that you have full backups, and backups of backups! We hear of users not being able to return to a clean system far more frequently than we’d expect, so be thorough and methodical, and follow the appropriate backup processes.

Finally, make sure the users are trained on Sage CRM in advance, and understand that they will need to stop using the old system while the migration is being done, and move across to the new system at the agreed point in time. Even one user continuing to enter data into the old system is going to create problems.  User involvement and agreement at every step will help avoid confusion and contention after the live date.


Your ACT data is a valuable resource that needs to be transferred safely to Sage CRM and effectively used there. Thinking about the information you already have, what you want to achieve in Sage CRM, how this affects processes and data flow, and what this means for the data migration process, are important considerations. Sometimes answers are not as obvious as expected, which is where the true value of preparation comes in. Once you know the ACT data you want, and what you are going to do with it, the mechanics of the migration can begin.

A migration tool can certainly help with the data transfer process; however don’t be surprised if it won’t automatically migrate everything, especially if you have a large, complex ACT database or any customizations. Ideally, your migration tool will automate much of the process, and also let you manipulate data, identify duplicates, match records, customize maps and manage trial runs, while providing accurate auditing and exception reporting. If you’re using a third party and you’ve nailed down the details, go for a fixed price quote to limit costs and risk.

At InaPlex we’ve been managing CRM migration projects for over a decade, and we are always happy to provide advice. Feel free to book one of our no-charge, no-obligation webinars, or learn more about our migration solutions at

Inaport, from InaPlex, delivers CRM integration and data migration solutions for leading CRM systems including Salesforce, Microsoft Dynamics CRM, Sage CRM, Infor CRM (previously Saleslogix), Goldmine and ACT. It has a range of connectors and maps for quick results, and its straightforward approach provides a wealth of powerful functions. To learn more please book a free webinar, download a free 30 day evaluation license, or visit the InaPlex website.


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