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Preparing your Import Data


Importing out-of-date or uncleansed data can cause your import to fail and clutters your database so take the time to review the data carefully before starting.

We've put together a spreadsheet giving lots of useful information on how your data should be formatted. Click here to download a copy.

Review your Data

Before trying to import anything into Workbooks we strongly advise that you take the time to review your data and to check its quality and accuracy as the old adage of 'rubbish in = rubbish out' is true.

To help you with preparing your data, you can use Import Templates to generate spreadsheets which have column headers which correspond to form fields inside Workbooks. 

If you're importing data from a legacy system, even a simple spreadsheet, decide how much historical data you need. For example, do you really need to import activities that took place years ago? If the answer is 'yes', fine but often the answer is 'no', in which case filter out and remove out-of-date or unnecessary data. Be as ruthless as you can be without forsaking important information.

What sort of data do you want to import? For example, if the information is about People, but those People haven't yet been through any kind of qualification process, you may want to import the data as Sales Leads. If however, the People have been qualified, it might be more appropriate to import the data as People records (possibly identified as Prospects?).

Do you just want to import one type of record (Organisations, for example) or do you want to import any additional record types at the same time, such as Activities, Notes, and so on? If you want to import more than one record type at the same time, click here to see which records you can import at the same time.

NOTE: Once People have been imported you cannot update their employer field using update through import so ensure that you either import the Organisations first and then link People to them or that you import both types of record at the same time.

Once you've decided what type of records you want to create, familiarise yourself with the fields in your source data and with those available within Workbooks. Do all the fields you want to populate already exist within Workbooks?  If not, you might need to create some custom fields.

Similarly, if you're importing data into fields that use picklists, does your source data contain options that reflect your picklists? Also, which fields in Workbooks are mandatory? Make sure your source data contains the data required for these mandatory fields. Click here to link to a list showing mandatory fields for each record type.

Cleanse your Data

Once you're familiar with the data you want to import, check the quality of it and, if necessary, make some amendments to help ensure your import goes smoothly. Below are suggestions of things to check for, which isn't meant to be exhaustive but will definitely help eliminate some common problems.

  • Unique Identifier - if you're using import to update fields on existing records or to link new records to existing ones (eg, importing Activities linked to People), you will need some way to uniquely identify the existing records so that your new data affects the right records.

    If you've previously exported records from Workbooks to update them externally, we'd recommend that your export includes the unique Object Reference which you can then use within your import as a unique identifier. Similarly, data exported from a legacy system often includes a unique identifier. In this case, we recommend importing this against the Workbooks field called External Reference.
  • Data content - do all your columns contain the 'right' data, ie, if the column is for, say, County, are all the values in that column for Counties? Whilst this won't necessarily stop the import from working, it's worth checking this sort of information as it may impact upon the success of reporting, especially for marketing purposes, once the data has been imported.
  • Address information - commonly street addresses in the source CSV file are split into different fields, eg Street Address 1, Street Address 2, etc. In Workbooks, the Street Address field is a multi-line text field and the import tool makes it easy to populate this as it will allow you to concatenate together your source fields and specify how you want the fields to be separated (eg, by a new line, or a comma).

    If, however, your source data has information for the street address and the town and / or county and / or postcode and / or country all in one field, you'll need to manipulate the data before you start your import to separate this into different fields. It helps to have a reasonable understanding of the formulae that Excel offers in order to facilitate splitting the data correctly.
  • Email addresses - are email addresses entered correctly? Check to make sure they all contain an @ symbol, and that they don't contain any other special characters, such as brackets or asterisks.  Also, if any email addresses start with 'mailto:'  remove that before importing. 

NOTE:  If you're importing People records any rows which have invalid email addresses will be rejected thus the Person record will not be created. If your data contains invalid email addresses we recommend that you either correct them prior to starting the import or delete them and leave that field empty.

  • Assigned to - do you want your records to be assigned to a specific user? If so, make sure that user has been created first (although you don't have to enable them).

NOTE: if you assign records straight to a queue, they will be 'owned' by the user carrying out the import. This doesn't usually create any issues UNLESS you are using advanced permissions and those permissions have been configured to be based on who owns the record.

In that situation, you should first set up all your permissions. Next, import the records assigned to an individual user, so that the rulesets give access to the right set of users. Then reassign the records to a queue, which will retain the ownership and thus the rulesets.

  • Dates - if you're importing any dates, make sure they're all in the same format. By default, Workbooks displays dates as dd/mm/yyyy, eg 21/02/2011. You can import dates in other formats but do make sure they are all consistent.
  • Checkboxes - if you're importing data to populate a checkbox (for example, the Partner, Supplier, Customer or Prospect fields on an Organisation record) you can use either Y or 1 as the value in your source data to indicate that the checkbox should be ticked. If you don't want a checkbox to contain a tick, use either N or 0 in your source data.
  • Currencies - when importing currencies, your source data should not include commas to separate the thousands, nor should it include a currency symbol. For example, if you want to import a cell showing £1 million, make sure your source data is entered as 1000000 and not as £1000000 or 1,000,000 or £1,000,000.
    To show the currency type you should include a column that reflects the three-character code that is used within Workbooks for the currency. For example, the code for Sterling is GBP, for Euros is EUR and for American Dollars is USD. A full list of the currencies supported by Workbooks is available to System Administrators within the Configuration area.
  • Tax Code - if you're importing records that require a tax code, such as Products, you should include a column containing the appropriate tax code for the Tax Regime under which your Own Organisation operates. For example, the Workbooks tax code for Standard Rate VAT in the UK is S-GB. A full list of the codes and their description is available to System Administrators within the Accounting section of the Configuration area.

Once you're happy that your data is in good shape you can use the Workbooks Import Wizard to help guide you through the steps required to complete your import.

Related content

Import Templates are available to help you ensure that you have all of the relevant fields mapped when importing

If you have existing data in other CRM systems, databases or spreadsheets, you can import it into Workbooks from a CSV file