So you’ve got yourself a shiny new Solve account. Congratulations! But what use is a Customer Relationship Management system if it contains no customer information to manage? About as useful as a screen door on a submarine. So adjust your periscopes and begin pressurization crew. We are about to dive deep and demonstrate how easy it is to get your existing information into Solve.
The procedure to import contacts, companies and project blogs involves two basic steps:
- Exporting data out of your old system
- Importing data into Solve
Project blogs offer a versatile workspace for teams to record and track Projects, Properties, Portfolios, Locations, Cases, Jobs, etc.
Solve supports export files from Outlook, Highrise and Goldmine, as well as Mac Address Book, Google and other vCards (.VCF files). The import options for these specific formats are pre-determined, making it easy to import data by following the simple on-screen instructions under Solve menu > Manage Contacts > Data > Import.
For project blogs, Solve supports export files from Basecamp. Simply follow the simple on-screen instructions under Solve menu > Organize Projects Blogs > Data > Import.
This walkthrough is focused on helping folks using anything else to import their data into Solve, and take advantage of some special import features.
The procedure to export data from your old system varies depending on what system you are using. However, the result of the export is always the same: a text file containing your data, which is stored temporarily on your computer.
The format of the export file is universal and almost every system can produce one. In the old system we’re looking for an option similar to “Export/Save as CSV”. A CSV (comma separated value) file is a simple text file that can be opened by Excel. It’s a table format having a separate row for each contact and a separate column for each field of information i.e. each record is separated with a new line and each field of information is separated by a comma.
To create a CSV file in Excel you must choose “Save as type: CSV (Comma delimited)”. Simply renaming a *.XLS file does not change the internal format to CSV.
To follow along for contacts and companies open Solve menu > Manage Contacts > Data > Import. To follow along for project blogs open Solve menu > Organize Project Blogs > Data > Import.
From the import panel you essentially follow the step-by-step on-screen instructions, guiding you through:
- In response to “What are you importing from” proudly state you are importing a CSV file by selecting the option “Excel and others (*.csv)”, then select your export file and it will be uploaded to the system.
- Map the field names from the old system to the new field names in Solve. This basically means you will be telling the system that the field called “Phone” in the old system will be saved into the field called “Business Direct” in Solve.
- Watch Solve do its magic loading your data, knowing that each field of information is being stored in the place it belongs.
Things to know
Solve expects first and last name to be separate column. If your export file has both names in the same column you can use Excel’s “text to column” feature to split them into separate columns.
The import feature checks to see if a matching record already exists. If found the existing record will be updated with new information from your file and a duplicate will not be created.
Contacts match if they (A) have the same email (regardless of the field) or (B) have the same name plus:
- A matching phone field (regardless of formatting), or a matching address field, or a matching company name, or
- When the phone, address and company values are all not set
Companies are checked by simply having a matching name.
Project Blogs are matched by having the same title.
There is an option at the bottom of the field mapping step to “Bypass duplicate detection”.
We recommend starting with a small test file and confirm the results. Here are some special features to be aware of:
Including Category Tags
Category tags are a very useful way to organize information and we made it easy to import them along with your contacts, companies or project blogs. In your export file simply create a column called “Categories”. For each record put all the category tags in this field and separate each value with a semi-colon. When importing, map this field with Solve’s Categories field and the tags will be created and / or applied to the corresponding records automatically for you. This can be a real time-saver!
It’s common for some systems to export contact groups or category tags into separate columns. Along with importing category tags in a single column delimited by semi-column [ ; ] the import also supports mapping multiple category tag fields.
Single category field delimited by semi-colon mapped to single Solve field called “Categories”.
Multiple category fields mapped to a single Solve field called “Categories”.
Managing address Fields
Solve defaults to storing an address in a single large field. A single field makes the system generally easier to use and syncs well with Google. However it’s common for older applications to save an address in multiple fields. If your import file has multiple columns for an address, just map each of those columns (having unique names e.g : Business Address 1, Business Address 2, etc.) to the same Solve address field. The values will automatically be merged onto separate lines in the single address field for you.
Some clients have cases where they need separate fields for addresses e.g. when sending direct mail or needing a precise search by address element. In this case you can create your own custom address fields and remove the standard one(s).
Populating the “Assigned-to” field
The Assigned-to field is useful to record who on your team is responsible for managing the relationship with a contact, company or project. This field is special — it’s not just text data entered in a field, it relates to a specific user account in Solve.
To link your value to a specific user account ensure that each user has their own account registered on the system before you start the import (Solve menu > Modify User Accounts > Add - don’t forget to double-click in the cells to enter the first and last names). When your data is mapped to Solve’s assigned-to field and the name matches exactly, the user will be selected for you automatically.
Dealing with Companies
In Solve, contacts and companies are entered separately and then naturally linked together. Linking the two avoids the need to duplicate company data on each contact related to the same company.
In Step 2. you map your fields to Solve’s fields. At the top of the screen panel you have the option “What are you importing” with the option “only Contacts”, “only Companies”, or “Contacts and Companies”. If you choose “only Companies” everything we’ve discussed about contacts can be substituted for companies i.e. instead of importing just contacts, you can import just companies — the process as it relates to fields, addresses, category tags, and assigned-to field are the same.
It gets interesting when you choose “Contacts and Companies”. With this option you can map your fields for a specific row in the export file between both a contact and company at the same time i.e. saving the contact’s information on a contact page, saving the company information (even if it’s just a company name) on a company page, and here’s the magic - automatically linking the contact and company together.
If you have multiple contacts linked to the same company there’s a good chance the company will already exist in Solve. That’s no problem, the second contact will get linked up along with the first one and if the company data is different the company will be updated.
Dealing with Project Blogs
Just like contacts and companies, Solve supports the ability to import .CSV and Excel data into project blog records. Solve also makes it easy for teams migrating from Basecamp to import their project information with a special Basecamp option. Easily import your project, property, portfolio or other similar record data into Solve project blogs. It’s a handy way to get started quickly.
Using the import tool to make bulk changes in Solve
You can also use Solve’s import tool to quickly make mass changes to field and category tag data. More …
Custom field types
When mapping your fields to Solve’s fields you are provided the option to create a “new field” (useful when there isn’t already an appropriate one in the system). The type of field created this way will be a standard single-line text field. If you need a specific type of field e.g. a text-area, email, phone etc. simply create the field before starting the import process (Solve menu > Customize Form fields) then select it from the list when mapping the fields.
Removing existing field values from Solve
In some cases you may want to remove values that were previously imported into a field e.g. to make a correction. The import ignores empty values so we’ve provided a special way to do this. Simply enter the value “null” (without the quotes) and when the import process sees this it will know you want the existing value removed.