Once you have completed the preparation to begin the data import process you can now manually enter (or carefully copy and paste) the data for the account into the downloaded template. In this example I will be using a standard account template blueprint, but the import process will be the same no matter which account blueprint you use.

The ideal situation is for you to have already created the account folder structure as this will enable you to import the data directly into the folders, however if you haven't had the time to do this you can import it into the 'root' folder and move it later.  I have created a new folder for the import called 'New Import Folder' and this is showing  as index 42 (the 42nd folder added to the account) on the import template spreadsheet.

You will note that the automatically generated template name is pretty memorable :-) I always think it is good practice to save the import template with a recognisable name as this will make it easier for you to identify later on, in this example I have called it 'My Papertrail Import'.

We are now ready to begin the import process and the majority of this work will be completed in the 'records' tab:

When importing data the mandatory fields are:

  1. folder_id (folders tab - index column for required folder)
  2. name (as per the account convention)
  3. state_id (states tab - index column for the correct state - usually 'checked - good')
  4. frequency_id (frequencies tab - index column for desired inspection frequency)

If you fail to enter any of these fields the import will fail immediately.  Remember, the data will be imported into the folder number that you specify; its not a massive problem if you do enter the wrong folder id but you will have to select and bulk move all the newly imported records once the import has successfully completed.

If you have a specific date for the 'next_check_at' you can enter this into the relevant field, if not, the chosen frequency will drive it from the date of import. All other fields can either be completed or added to at a later date but it is recommended that as much data as possible is added in this process.

From experience we have found that the date fields seem to cause the most problems during an import.  To avoid ambiguity across our diverse client bast, Papertrail requires all dates to be in ISO international date format of yyyy-mm-dd.  Essentially, you can enter the date in the standard way for your location but you must convert it to this format before you begin the import process.  If you do not convert your dates the import will fail immediately.

You can see that 'manufactured_at' field is still in the normal UK format and needs to be converted.  To do this, select all the fields required and 'right click' to open this dialogue box:

Select 'Format Cells':

and then choose 'Date', followed by the ISO format 'yyyy-mm-dd'.  When you click on 'OK' the dates will be converted.

Common problems that you may face are:

  1. Date of year only - this is common for year of retirement and you have to 'create' the month and day.  Generally, we convert any such date to the 1st January for the given year.  Its all down to the quality of the clients information.
  2. Date formats such as 19th Dec 16 can't be converted and have to be manually edited until they can, slowing up the import process greatly, especially when there are hundreds of different dates :-(

The best advice we can offer for importing records is to take your time when preparing the import spreadsheet and check, double check and check again before you move on to the import itself.

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