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Introduction to Importing


This article walks through some best practices that you can use to move external data into Sugar.

Please refer to the Import documentation for a more detailed overview of Sugar's import functionality.

Think Small

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 stage is 100 Accounts and 200 Contacts. Later, 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 the success of your final production import process.

Extracting Data

For straightforward imports, the fastest path to getting your data in Sugar is via a CSV file. It's up to you to obtain the data from your existing system. For example, 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 Salesforce.com 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 as Leads. 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.

Cleansing Data

Open your CSV file and, chances are, there's a lot of good, clean data mixed with some ugly, 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?

  • Remove any duplicated records from the CSV file.
  • Remove any identifiers in your existing data. Sugar creates its own unique identifiers on import. Identifiers are usually identified by "ID" fields. If the old ID field value is important to you, create a custom field in Sugar and name it something other than "ID" (e.g. "Legacy ID"). Sugar places special meaning to "ID".
  • If your import file contains columns like date_entered and date_modified, it's probably worth your while to create custom fields to store the original date values if they have meaning for you.
  • Finally, save the cleaned-up version of your files with a special name like "Accounts_clean.csv". This preserves the original exported data ... just in case.

For more information on creating custom fields in Sugar, please refer to the Studio documentation.

Prepping Sugar to Accept Your Data

If you see fields in your CSV file that do not map directly to Sugar fields, then you can create new custom fields to store your data. You will need some place for that data to reside. Simply add the new fields via Admin > Studio. For more information on creating custom fields in Sugar, please refer to the Studio documentation.

Now that Sugar is ready to accept your pristine data, 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?

Performing the Import

Most importantly, 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.

Now that you are ready to import, please refer to the Migrating Data From a Previous CRM System article for more information on importing the files.