Have you ever taken a step back to consider whether your association membership database is performing at its peak for members? Have you thought about how migration to a new database could help increase workflow and productivity? Most importantly, is it user-friendly for your members? Migration can be simple yet stressful. It is the process of moving data from one location/platform to another, resulting in the introduction of a new system or location to house all association member information.

This article will outline the steps you need to take to achieve a successful migration.

How to Plan a Migration

First, ask yourself: what is your main goal in this process of change? Moving important or sensitive data and closing current systems can put an association on edge. Having a solid plan is crucial. However, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Start with the plan, evaluate the data being moved and transform the data to be current and correct. Then, load the data into one organized document or spreadsheet for migration to the new system based on a set of requirements. Be sure to check the new systems and be aware of all the requirements.

You may have some goals related to maintaining your membership management system, but you also need to make sure that the format/organization of the new system relates to the needs you have. Ask all the questions you can think of that relate to the most important parts of the database. For example, how does the API work? What information is the database able to house? Can it connect with any outside software, ie: direct email or event management software?

If you’re unsure whether you are ready or in need of migration, read my colleague’s article “Association Membership Management Systems: Is it Time for a Change?”

Confirm That Your Checklist Requirements Are Set

  • All the information on the current system is up to date and correct before exporting.
  • Export data and read over important templates used by the new system.
  • All remapping of columns to their correct fields are done.
  • Ensure individuals are correctly identified before importing.
  • Run a check to make sure no new members have been introduced and no old members have been deleted.
  • Necessary data has been imported is correct and old membership data is in your existing file server in case you need it in the future.

How to Navigate/Troubleshoot

While taking on a new platform can feel nerve-wracking and overwhelming, there are a few ways to make learning a new system easier for everyone. New technology is always a struggle no matter how proficient you are, so remember that you are not alone! Patience, persistence, and time are key to the ease of navigation. Here are some tips to try:

  • There should be free resources to consult within the platform. These resources will give you the basic tools you need to learn the platform.
  • Sign up for any online training within the platform you are moving to and ask questions when you are stumped.
  • Be kind to yourself and give yourself time to learn.

Introducing To Your Members

Spending months working on a new product can be daunting. Finally, you are ready to launch! Send an exciting product launch announcement email, otherwise no one will notice. The success of this new database launch depends on how well you communicate the value of your new product to your association members. It is always good to start your introduction of your new database to your members with a positive announcement. Here’s an example: “We have been busy working on something new for our members.”  Let them know that you identified some key components on the old system that were not working for the association and let them know you are excited to show them the work you have done on the new platform. Here are some key items you will want to highlight for them.

What’s Changing?

Make sure to outline all the changes to the database platform and highlight the largest changes that might bring some frustration members. You want to be as proactive as possible to alleviate the calls and emails. Introduce members to the resources they can use to get familiar with the system.

What Are the New Benefits?

  • New, cleaner look and better member experience and usability
  • Faster navigation and greater reliability
  • It will allow for quick and easy launch of new features and services

All Things Considered

At the end of the day, all this work on migration is done for members, so put yourself in their shoes while you are working on all of these changes. Change can be shocking to some, and welcome to others. Be open and ready to help when it comes time to launch, and your members will see the great work you put into the project.

To learn even more about transitioning between database platforms, read my colleague’s article, “Preparing to Change Membership Database Systems for Associations.”