5 Steps to a Successful eTapestry Import

Category: Best Practices

The Blackbaud® eTapestry® import tool is an important feature. Imports are primarily used to batch upload data into your eTapestry database, but eTapestry imports can also be used to clean up existing account data and integrate eTapestry with other technology tools. Save time and streamline the import process with the following five steps.

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Step 1 – Create an import file template

The hardest part of an import is translating non-eTapestry data (data that comes from another source) into a data format that eTapestry accepts. Overcome this challenge by developing an import file template.

An import file template is an Excel file that contains only column headers. The column headers in the import file template identify the fields on the eTapestry records that you want to import.

How to create an import file template

  1. Determine what type of records you will be importing. Are you importing constituents only or constituents with a specific type of journal entry (gift, contact, or note)?
  2. List every field from the data entry screen of the record that you will be importing. For example, if you are importing gifts for constituents, list the fields on the “Add an Account” screen in eTapestry. Then navigate to the data entry screen for a new gift/pledge and list the fields on that screen. Pay attention to required fields because those fields may be required for the import as well.
  3. Take the list of fields and add the field names to the top row of an Excel spreadsheet with each field in a separate column. Save your import file template for the next step in the process.

Step 2 – Map data to the import file template

Map your external data source (wherever located) into the import file template you created in Step 1. You have two options for the mapping process. The option you choose will depend on your proficiency with Excel.

Option #1 – Copy and paste the data from your external data source (most likely an Excel spreadsheet) into your import file template. Match the data from the external data source to the column headers in your import file template.

Option #2 – Arrange the data in your external data source to match the column header format of your import file template.

We recommend Option #1. Only use Option #2 if you are confident in your ability to manipulate data in Excel.

Either way, the end goal is to produce an import file that matches the template you created in Step 1. This step creates an “import file.”

Step 3 – Review and clean the import file

After mapping your data to the import file template and creating the import file, review and clean up your data. Reviewing and cleaning your import file will mitigate eTapestry import errors and inaccuracies, saving time and stress in the subsequent steps.

  • Review each column and confirm the name of each column header matches the field name in eTapestry (or is close to the field in eTapestry).
  • Review each column and confirm the field type and data style of your data matches the field type and data style of the same field in eTapestry.
  • Remove blank rows in your import file and remove blank columns.
  • After all of the data is cleaned, separate your import file into multiple import files because eTapestry can only accept 2,000 rows of data per import (this includes the column header in row one, so only 1,999 rows of actual data).

Step 4 – Run an import test

Imports cannot be undone. There is no undo function for eTapestry imports. Once you run an import, you cannot restore the database to a prior state. Inaccurate imports must be corrected manually.

Manually cleaning 100 records or even 1,999 records will take hours, so import accuracy is critical. Run a small test import of 3-5 rows of data before importing your full import file. You can manually recover from a test import if something goes wrong. You can also make changes to your import process if you make an error.

Running a test file is practical because it mitigates errors, but it also streamlines subsequent imports. Once you run a successful import with the eTapestry import tool, eTapestry saves that import template for future use.

Don’t forget to review the imported data from your test to confirm that everything was properly imported into eTapestry.

Step 5 – Import remaining data and confirm accuracy

Run your full import with remaining data after the test import is successful, and then review your imported data to confirm accuracy.

  • First, check the import statistics before running the import.
  • After the import is complete, run a quick data quality query to double-check that the number of records created match your expectations. Use the “Data Source” field to filter for newly created records.
  • As a final step, manually review some imported records to confirm that the data was correctly imported.

Even though you ran a test import earlier, it is important to confirm the quality of your import. Verifying the accuracy of your import will minimize data quality issues that could negatively affect the quality of eTapestry reports.

Imports versus Manual Data Entry

Imports can save your organization time over manual data entry in most situations. Decide to either import data or enter data manually with a quick break-even analysis.  Multiply the time it takes to manually enter one record in your import file by the number of records in your import file. Estimate how much time it will take to run your import and find where the two calculations break-even. This quick breakeven analysis will show you when to import data and when to manually enter the data.

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