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How can I import client data into the Neoserra database?

Neoserra does not actually allow you to import client data into the Neoserra database, however, administrators, in administrator-mode, can import PRE-client data into the Neoserra database from the View|Clients import menu. Additionally, non-admin users who have been given permission can import pre-client data as part of the attendee import process on the training event record. In this FAQ we will discuss how to use the client import function:

Please use caution when importing! This process is slow because Neoserra does a lot of background processing, such as zip code lookup, congressional lookup, census tract lookup, etc. for every record being imported. Once the data has been imported into Neoserra it will be a manual process to delete the records.

Getting Ready!

The data to be imported has to be available in an Excel or comma delimited format and, because a client in Neoserra consists of both company information as well as contact details, your import file must also include information for both record types. In fact, you must designate a column in the import file that aligns with the Company Name; Contact First Name; Contact Last Name; and Contact Email Address fields in Neoserra. These columns must be identified in the import file, however, if the company name column is blank, then Neoserra will map the contact's first and last name into the Company Name field.

The contact first and last name must be in separate columns in the import file otherwise Neoserra cannot process the file. If your file includes the first and last names together in one column then, in order to import the file, we recommend that you split the names into separate columns. Unfortunately, the Excel data splitting option does not do well with middle initials. If your file includes middle initials or, the Excel option does not work for you, then you can use the built-in Neoserra name splitting option. However, keep in mind that Neoserra cannot correctly interpret every first name-last name combination especially with middle initials, middle name, multiple last names, etc. A best effort will be made to split the names, but errors are unavoidable when programmatically converting data from a single field to two fields. If you select to use the Neoserra's name splitting tool, then you will need to select the "Name (First Last)" import option:

All imported records will always be imported as:

  • Pre-clients
  • Client Start Date will be set to the date of the import
  • The center will always default to the center under which the administrator is initiating the import process.
  • All defaults configured under the Administration Pick List panel will be applied to the coded fields.

How to import a client file?

As an administrator, in administrator-mode, you can go to View|Clients and click the More|Import menu option. In the interface provided you will need to specify a file name from which you wish to import your data:

Alternatively, with the appropriate permission a non-administrator user can import an attendee file from within a training event, and create contact and clients records:

To import pre-client records within the training event interface, please select View|Training Events and go to the event for which you have an attendee list. Scroll to the attendee list for the event and select Import|From a File:

Regardless of whether you are importing a client file from the Client interface or from the Training Event interface, Neoserra will bring in the data and present you with a field selection interface where you can specify what each data column in the import file represents:

Based upon the header line in the import file, and based upon the type of data in the columns, Neoserra will make an attempt to identify the data represented in the columns in the file, as shown above. In the green box above, you see the field names as they were brought in from the import file. In orange, you see Neoserra "guessing" as to how this data may align with the Neoserra fields. In many cases, Neoserra will "guess" correctly, however. when we scroll to the right, the image below shows that Neoserra was not able to identify some of the other fields in the import file, and it will "skip" the data unless you choose how you want the data mapped. In the example below, Neoserra came across two fields that both contained zip code information, but since Neoserra does not split out the +4 zip code details in a separate field, the +4 data will be skipped. Editing the drop down takes a little patience as Neoserra processes under the hood.

Next, in the same example, Neoserra encountered a number of telephone number fields. You will need to specify how you want each telephone number mapped. The "Work Phone Number" will be mapped both to the contact record as well as the client record. All other phone numbers will only be mapped to the contact record. You will need to scroll through all the fields in the import file and map them as appropriate.

You will notice that only text fields; numeric fields; and date fields can be imported into Neoserra. You will not be able to import fields that are coded in drop down selections. The only two exceptions are "Gender" (both the contact's gender and the ownership gender) and "Business Status". Neoserra can map in the gender if the data in the import file starts with either the letter "F" or "W" for Woman, or starts with the letter "M" for Male. The in-business/pre-venture Business Status field can be mapped if your import file includes the "Date Business Established". The absence of a date will imply that the record is a pre-venture client, if your import file does include a date established then the company will be set to in-business, as appropriate.

If you wish to map the remainder of the fields that cannot be mapped directly into the client record, then you can map them into the "Notes" field. There are two notes fields, one for the contact record and one for the client record. You should choose the field best suited for your data. You can map multiple columns into the Notes field that will be concatenated together.

When you have mapped all fields, scroll to the bottom and click "Continue" to specify a counselor and funding source to be applied to all imported records (as shown in green):

In orange, we see that one of the contacts in our import file matches an existing contact already in the database. Neoserra will try to match contacts based upon name, phone number and/or email address. In the example shown above, the match is simply based upon the name of the contact. You can hover over the match to see if they are, in fact, the same person. If they are not, then you can toggle away from the match and choose "(new)" instead, in which case Neoserra will create a new contact with the same name.

In blue, we see two companies that are being imported, that match companies already in the Neoserra database. In the case of the first client, we see that it matches based upon name and address; in the case of the second client, we see that there is a match based upon phone number. You will need to decide if the imported companies are, in fact, the same client that is already found in the database. If they are not, then you can toggle to create a "(new)" record.

When you have reviewed all records, click "Continue" and you will see all newly imported records. Consider that you can still abandon the process before clicking "Continue"! Once you click Continue, the records will be imported into your database and, once imported, you will need to delete them manually if they prove to have been imported in error. Please note that the import process is not fast, it will take considerable time to import the records - do not click the "Continue" button more than once. Allow the process to finish and once completed you will see a listing of all imported records:

It is important to remember that all records are imported as pre-clients. Only the two pre-existing records from our sample, will show a true client ID, all other imported records will show the typical pre-client ID starting with an "at sign" (@). Again, looking at the sample, you can see that a number of new contacts were also created, except for the contact that was already recognized to exist in the database.

How to filter for imported records?

All records imported via the Client import module will, by default, show the following text in the Notes field:

You can create a filter to find all newly imported records using the text: "*Client Import module on MM/DD/YYYY*" with a wildcard (asterisk) before and after the phrase:

Additionally, all newly created records will be logged in the Audit panel:

What clients will not be imported?

There are a number of instances when no new records will be created during the import process. If Neoserra determines that the imported data creates a duplicate record in the database, then it will not create a new entry. In the screen shot below, we can see that Neoserra has determined that two contacts and their associated companies already exist in Neoserra. As such, you don't get an option to create a "(new)" record.

Neoserra makes this determination when it sees an email address that already exits in the Neoserra database, which is why the email address is absolutely essential and required during the import process. Similarly, if two contacts are being imported with the same email address it will omit the second record it encounters during the import process:

If, however, your import file contains duplicate contacts with different email addresses then Neoserra will allow the import of both contacts. In other words, during the import process itself, Neoserra will not eliminate two contacts who have the same name but different email addresses.

If the email address is missing for a particular entry, then the record cannot be imported into Neoserra. Notice below in green, that the checkbox in front of the two records with missing email addresses has been unchecked.

These records will not be imported. Nor will the invalid email address highlighted in orange. You can manually check the checkboxes in the front of each record again, but ultimately Neoserra will not import these records and will tell you accordingly:

Similarly, if a record in your import file is missing a last name then the record will also be rejected:

While the records are included in the initial review, when Neoserra completes the process, it will let you know that X number of records could not be processed due to missing last name:

Special field considerations

As noted early, Neoserra will not be able to process a file unless one column is specified as the contact's first name; one column is specified as the contact's last name; one column is specified as the email address; and one column is specified as the company name. These columns must be present in the import file. Additionally, the last name and email address fields must include data. In other words, you cannot specify a blank column as the last name column or have a blank cell. Incomplete data will result in the data being omitted.

In addition to the mandatory data elements, there are also certain fields with specific behavior as outlined below:

Field name Special Considerations
Notes There are two Notes fields for you to specify from, one of the client record, and one for the contact record. Unlike all other fields, you can choose the Notes fields for multiple columns of imported data. Data to be imported into the Notes field will be concatenated in the order they came in the import file.
Gender/Ownership Gender The contact's gender and the company's gender ownership can be set to either male/female or male-owned/woman-owned respectively based upon the first letter of the data in the field. If the data elements starts with either an M or H (for hombre), then the field will be set to male/male owned; if the data element starts with either an F or W, then the field will be set to female/woman-owned.
Work Phone Number When the work phone number is specified in the import file, then this phone number will be used as both the company phone number as well as the contact's work phone number.

And speaking of phone numbers, all phone numbers should have a standard formatting. Neoserra will not be able to interpret special formatting.

Make pre-clients into clients

It should be noted that the above process only creates pre-client records, not client records. In order for these newly imported records to be counted on your scorecards or EDMIS exports, they will need to be converted to client records manually.

The import process will facility the importing of data, but ultimately it is the Neoserra user's responsibility to determine whether the imported record meets the client definition as defined by your program.

Want more? Browse our extensive list of Neoserra FAQs.