Migrating Your “Old” CRM to Zoho CRM

Abstract: This article outlines the steps and considerations you should undergo to successfully move your current CRM data into Zoho CRM. We’re writing this article because we get asked this question often!

The migration process has two major steps. Each step has a few minor steps. An outline might look like:

  1. Extract your data from current CRM system.
    • Could be one or many sources (Act!, Salesforce, Outlook, Excel, etc.)
    • Delete old, incomplete, unwanted records.
    • Translation – Standardize values, i,e, “Lawyer”, “Attorney”, “Counsel”, etc.
    • Determine what modules you want to migrate.
    • Consider not moving every field.
    • De-duplicate the source data.
  2. Import the data into Zoho.
    • Create any custom modules & fields first.
    • Verify within 30 days. Zoho has a very nice undo feature where an import can be reversed when mistakes are encountered. You cannot undo imports that are more than 30 days old.

Zoho CRM has a very robust data migration tool that makes it fairly easy to bring in a set of text files (*.csv, *.txt, etc.) and populate multiple modules at the same time, with all modules properly linked.

The trick is to create these text files in a Zoho friendly format. Resolutions to some common pitfalls are:

  1. Contact names should be split into First Name & Last Name
  2. Any field in Zoho defined as required must be populated in your import file. A common example is email address. If you define email as required then any incoming records with a missing email will not import.
  3. Similarly, if you define a field as unique, then there can only be one record with that value. Additional records with the same value will not import. 
  4. Make sure your pick list (drop-down) fields have the same values as your incoming data. An example is a Deal with a stage of “Sold” but the Zoho pick says “Closed – Won”.
  5. User mapping – your old CRM system may have records or activities entered by ex-employees who will not be users of the old system. You can import the old user names into Zoho as inactive users or you can map all old users to a current user account. The choice depends mostly on the amount of “old” user data you are importing.
  6. Dates need to be in a Zoho friendly format. Zoho can handle almost any format but it helps greatly if all of your date fields are in a similar format, i.e. “10/15/2019”.

 An example – Migrating from Act! to Zoho CRM

We’ll choose Act! as your source data for exemplary purposes. Most CRM systems have similar module structures but each is a little different.

 This tables lists the most commonly used Act! Modules, with some special considerations about importing these modules into Zoho.




migrate to Zoho Contacts module. Zoho also has a Leads module which Act! does not have. You may want to separate your Act! Contacts into Contact and Leads.

Contact Notes

will migrate to Contact Notes in Zoho. Act! stores these notes as rtf (Rich Text Format). These notes should be converted to plain text before import.


Zoho has an Activities modules and there are three kinds of Activities in Zoho; Calls, Events and Tasks. We usually map Act! call to Zoho Calls, Act! Meetings to Events and Tasks to Tasks. We generally ignore Act! history types of “Access Changed”, “Field Changed”, etc.


migrate to Zoho (Deals, Potentials, Opportunities – this module can have many names). It is important to use the same Opportunity Stages in both systems. We often only import Open Opportunities, not Closed ones. 


Act! instituted a Companies module about 12 years ago and not all customers use it. Zoho’s equivalent is the Accounts module. It is a good idea to create an Accounts import, either from the Act! Companies module or by extracting Company information from the Act! Contact records. 


The Groups feature in Act! is unique to Act! and there is no direct equivalent in Zoho. We approximate the feature in Zoho with the use of pick lists or Zoho’s Tag feature. There are limits; 500 drop downs or 50 Tags. If you have thousands of Act! groups, we’ll need to devise a custom solution.

Pending Activities

Act! has a calendar where scheduled activities are kept. When the user completes an activity, the record moves from pending to the history file. We often find that this file is full of old calls and meetings that were never completed. Depending on need, we often do not import this data. 


Act! has a feature where an email from Outlook or Google could be copied into Act!. Zoho does not do this. Zoho has a peculiar system where it goes to your mail server and displays any contact related emails.

So there is no email table in Zoho for us to import old emails into. If absolutely necessary, we’ll create a custom table and import them there. This table is static and future emails will not be copied into Zoho. They are displayed in their own section. 

We show clients how emails automatically displayed and most are happy with that. If those real old emails are necessary, we can import them. 

Attached Documents & Files

This is a lot of work but often necessary. Every module in Act! can have files associated with it, contracts, quotes, images, videos, etc. Zoho allows you to attach files to their records and Zoho has generous storage limits. 

The problem with these files is that they often no longer exist. Act! may have a record saying there is a file on the K: drive, but that is the old location or the file no longer exists or the system doesn’t have sufficient rights to that drive.

Zoho file import requires you to zip all of the documents into a single file. The zip file cannot exceed 4 GB. Anything more than that must be done in batches. You then need to create a text file that links the file name to the Zoho record.

Custom Modules

For most of Act!’s history, custom modules were not support. There are some third party add-ons that would allow Act! to create a custom module. Examples are Cars (year, make, model, warranty, history) or Houses (# Bedrooms, Baths, Year Built) or Legal Cases (Court, Plaintiff, Defense, Docket, history) or Financial Accounts (Owner, Account number, shares, cost basis, date).

Zoho allows you to have 50 or more custom fields. Because Act! did not support this feature natively, many Act! users created dozens of fields in the Contact Records (Account1, Account2, Account3…). 

This “flat file” data should be imported into a custom module in Zoho.

Summary: Don’t view data migration as a chore. It is an opportunity to architect a better CRM system. This is your chance to clean your data, make it more searchable and improve reporting capabilities.

This example highlights that there is a lot to consider when migrating data. Zoho support and some other companies may offer a low cost service where all of your data, fields, and pick lists are simply duplicated. 

Act! is a SQL based database. We have written a full library of SQL queries that extracts Act!’s data in Zoho friendly format. Every migration comes with a lot of questions.

We modify our standard queries to select only the fields you want, translate unwanted values, etc.

Zoho’s import wizard allows us to undo an import if it is not correct. We recommend a trial import. Often a client will realize that some additional data is needed or can be omitted.

Final Data Conversion – Once the import is approved. We plan a final migration. We make a final copy of the source data. Anything added to the old CRM system after that point will miss the move. Since we have all of the queries unique to your system pre-written, the process is fairly fast and already proven. User training should commence immediately.

E-Commerce with Zoho Store

If you’re an internet-savvy person, chances are you’ve heard of e-commerce. For the uninitiated, e-commerce is the selling of goods online, shipping your orders out to customers. While major players like Amazon and Alibaba continue to rule, there are still niches left to explore that offer a lot of potential.

When you sell something unique and of value to your customers, people will start resonating with you as you grow. With that, here’s how to go about e-commerce and what you’ll get out of it:

Reach More Customers

Maybe you’re already a store owner or maybe you’re just starting out. When you have an online presence, you naturally reach more customers than you would with just a physical store. As you engage more with your audience, you build trust and brand awareness. And your website is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week!

Get Started with Online Marketing

When you want to promote your business online, an e-commerce website provides you with links to your products, which form the starting point of your social media marketing. And when you find yourself with happy customers, you know that your links will be shared—creating great publicity for your brand.

Be Customer-centric

If you’re already a familiar name in your neighborhood, customers will feel even more reassured when they see you online, and it’ll save them the trouble of having to go to your physical store every time they want to buy something. You can even offer incentives to customers who become regular online shoppers.

Connect with Your Audience

When you get SEO right, you’ll reach people who might not have heard of you before. And if your website is designed well, you’ll get more paying customers. Your website is an extension of your brand story and your values, so people connect more with your brand when your website inspires confidence.

All that said, expect e-commerce to have a few pitfalls. Do critical market research before you spend major resources on your online store. You might want to start with a pop-up store and build from there.

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Act! v 18.1 Update Version 18 Service Pack 1 – April 21 2016

Act! version 18.1 is a new update released 4/21/2015.  There are over 117 defects fixed in this version.  Act! can run at full resolution settings on high DPI displays.  A new Web API has been added, allowing huge advancement potential for add-on developers.  Other nice features have been added too!


Act! Pro v18.1

Act! Premium v18.1

Act! Premium (Web) v18.1


Here’s a list of what to expect in 18.1:

  • Act! and its components will better adapt to displays running at high resolutions and DPI scaling above 100%
  • Compatibility updates for Web users will improve the customer experience with all grid views.
  • The Act! for Web installer now allows you to install the Web API product.
  • Act! Connect View — Marketplace inclusions
  • Favorite Contact feature – mark and locate your favorite Contacts.
  • Activities, that may have been rescheduled or rolled-over, now show the date for which they were originally scheduled.
  • Localized versions of Act! 18.1 will be available for French, German, and (New!) French-Canadian languages.

Customer Facing Defects Closed in Act! v18.1 to Date

D-02467 Remote Database Creation includes all Secondary Contacts
D-02592 Ellipses buttons or dropdown lists missing from detail views on Surface
D-02613 TS: “Remote Database Sync Status by User” module in Administrative Dashboard is broken
D-02679 APFW: “Export to Excel” menu displays as grey for Contact List the second time trying to export
D-02713 Contact History Records Not Exported to a Copy Database Successfully
D-03338 APFW: Chrome – Unable to close the dialog box using cancel button in Advanced Query
D-03695 APFW: Contacts – Detail View – Tool tip is not getting displayed
D-03723 APFW: Chrome – Dashboard – Filter options are not displayed and white screen is displayed
D-03782 APFW: Dashboard – Deleting the same activity from different browsers doesn’t show a proper error
D-03789 APFW: Information not displayed in fields when using IE 8 or 9
D-03808 APFW: Chrome – Duplicate Popup Checker is in Loop
D-03809 APFW: Chrome – Groups Detail View – “Recipients Exceeded” warning dialog does not appear
D-03812 Registration – Getting an Internal server error
D-03813 APFW: Task List – No Option To Export to Excel
D-03829 Emarketing: Call Lists – Resizing the Call List tab does not resize the details pane, no scroll bar
D-03859 APFW: Chrome – Duplicate Popup Checker Not Functioning
D-03871 Wrong error message is displayed when license is invalid
D-03888 APFW: Preferences – Cleared Activity Display in Grey Not Functioning As Designed
D-03913 Framework error on Exiting Act
D-03967 APFW: Opportunities – No opportunities in Database dialog missing
D-03970 APFW: Opportunities – Detail view – Page does not Auto refresh after deleting the last opportunity
D-03972 APFW: Contact Detail View – Clicking next contact refreshes the entire page
D-03980 APFW: Calendars – Time zone Displays the Log on screen when using custom virtual directories
D-03981 APFW: Chrome – Mac – Top menu does not use global font settings
D-03982 APFW: Sort dialogue box drop down lists empty
D-03983 APFW: Contacts – Histories and Documents Tab – Navigating to histories tab Crashes APFW
D-03984 Contact email address does not populate TO: address when Email command is used
D-03989 TS: Clicking any schedule item from Company Detail view results in error
D-03996 APFW: Chrome – Activities Tab – No refresh after clicking OK on a new activity from Follow Up
D-03997 APFW: Chrome – Opportunities Tab – Clicking an Opportunity link does not go to the detail view
D-03998 APFW: Chrome – When creating a new note, shows multiple fonts as default
D-04001 E-mail Document button on Documents tab produces error
D-04006 APFW: IE11 – Cannot save change in Opportunity Stage
D-04007 Field Triggers – Activity Series give object reference error
D-04011 APFW: IE – Yes/No fields removed from layout after editing
D-04012 Create a remote with criteria and user cannot log in
D-04014 APFW: Administrative Dashboard User Status Component returns no information
D-04026 Contact Edit > Replace command fails when APFW service run in secure mode
D-04033 TS: User cannot rename Yes or No field
D-04036 Focus is lost when adding a new Contact and doing any save action
D-04038 APFW: Chrome – Restore non-Microsoft Office Email and Act! Word Processing functionality
D-04040 Contacts – Cant attach document from contact list view
D-04041 APFW: List View – Attaching file via Contacts > Attach menu returns error and blanks out list view
D-04042 Contact List View – Disable New Secondary Contact menu item
D-04044 APFW: Contact List View – Disable New Secondary Contact menu item
D-04047 Editing a tab name in the Layout Designer deletes all fields on the tab
D-04049 Navigation Button changes don’t stick
D-04051 APFW: Navigation Button changes don’t stick
D-04053 APFW: IE11 – Cancelling Copy Field doesn’t cancel
D-04054 APFW: Chrome – Act Word Processor – Unable to use in Chrome – Remove the popup message
D-04056 Update Act! Manifest to correct DPI Scaling issue
D-04061 APFW: Object Reference error when doing Export To Excel from companies list view
D-04062 APFW: Company Detail View – Contacts tab not always displaying the correct contacts
D-04063 APFW: Browse user able to attempt creating a new record
D-04064 APFW: Choosing an item in a drop-down, changes the previously selected custom dropdown
D-04065 Using Tag/Untag All while in Tag mode disables Lookup Selected and Omit Selected
D-04073 APFW: Edit List Values only appearing on ID/Status drop down
D-04074 APFW: Email mail merge server details not displaying
D-04075 APFW: Companies List View – Export to excel returns an object reference error
D-04077 APFW: Chrome – Advanced Query unable to click OK or Cancel after loading saved queries
D-04078 APFW: Chrome – Advanced Query unable to click OK or Cancel after clicking preview
D-04085 APFW: Relationship Details box size is too large, requires scroll bars
D-04089 APFW: Chrome – Contact Detail View – Activities tab isn’t refreshed after new activity is created
D-04094 Icons shown while creating a custom command are not displayed on toolbar
D-04100 LC: FR – Only first occurrences of recurring activities are synchronizing to Google calendar
D-04104 APFW: Chrome – Newly re-enabled Email menu items don’t do anything
D-04106 APFW: When switching between contacts, Activities tab does not update
D-04110 APFW: Unable to open sub folders via Write>Other Document From Template
D-04111 APFW: Notes Tab – Unable to see the Attachments column after adding it in customized columns
D-04115 TS: Define Sync Set button doesn’t work when downloaded from Act For Web
D-04130 APFW: Type FIlter in all History Tabs and View resets to None when used
D-04132 APFW: Today button on calendar takes you to the wrong date
D-04134 APFW: Chrome – Act! Word Processing – Write Letter gets in a download loop
D-04135 APFW: Chrome – Act! Word Processing – Write New Document is broken
D-04136 APFW: Chrome – Act! Word Processing – Write Edit Template is broken
D-04137 APFW: Chrome – Act! Word Processing – Get 404 Not found when trying to use Mail Merge
D-04139 APFW: Opportunity List View – Select Users dialog does not auto-refresh list after making changes
D-04143 APFW: Chrome – Cannot reschedule an activity series
D-04144 APFW: Chrome – Cannot delete a complete activity series
D-04146 APFW: Chrome – Session Timeout does not present “Continue” dialog, creates redirect loop
D-04148 APFW: Performance – Notifications polling is every three seconds
D-04152 Edit List Values control is wrong UI except for ID/Status
D-04157 APFW: Field text font color is not represented correctly
D-04158 APFW: Chrome – Cannot delete a recurring activity series
D-04160 APFW: Schedule Activity – Dialog pulling server time instead of client time
D-04161 APFW: Calendar – mini calendar always uses the server date and time for functions
D-04164 APFW: Cannot tab out of County field when creating a new contact
D-04166 Call List: Last updated field is using UTC+7 when using time and now users profile settings
D-04177 TS: Unable to edit recurring activities end date
D-04180 APFW: Act Word Processor – Write Letter generates error
D-04184 APFW: Activity text color is not displayed in task list on web
D-04185 NavBar customizations are lost after closing and reopening Act! on Windows 10
D-04188 Open Database dialog deformed on FR/CF
D-04189 French NavBar defaults to scrunched up
D-04193 APFW: Can’t select a contact from the task list if the contact’s name is blank
D-04195 LC: CF – Wrong “states” show up in the Registration drop down
D-04196 APFW – Cannot multi-select on task list
D-04197 LC: CF – Registration Wizard text is deformed, multiple pages
D-04198 LC: CF – Registration Wizard activating message box is not translated
D-04206 APFW: Calendar Recap List – Recap item link will not open the related activity
D-04210 APFW: When Daily Calendar is selected as the start-up view, Monthly Calendar is displayed
D-04211 APFW: Calendar – Remove the Today button from the toolbar, the mini calendar has one
D-04213 Notifications download message is confusing
D-04217 Update Scratchpad Web branding
D-04218 APFW: A warning message pops up when trying to Send to Act! a note, history, or activity
D-04220 TS: Unable to create new layout tab with a name that has already been used
D-04222 APFW: When encountering a Details field with invalid characters, web clients are logged out
D-04224 If the primary AEM email address is not verified, Send an Email Campaign throws an ObjRef Error
D-04225 APFW: Mobile – iOS – Clicking edit on any contact logs the user out
D-04226 APFW: Chrome – Startup preferences aren’t honored if you close the browser
D-04230 APFW: Mobile – Cannot dial phone number containing country code; needs preceding “+” sign
D-04232 LC: CF – New database form needs more space for verbiage
D-04233 APFW: Navigating to Calendar View logs off user not running on English language Windows OS
D-04235 Blank Mail Merge fields don’t collapse if there are two blanks on the same row
D-04238 APFW: Calendar – Time zone Inconsistencies
D-04290 Change text color in NavBar for better contrast
D-04293 APFW: Users are logged out when encountering a Notes details field with invalid characters