Getting Started With Data Imports


This article provides a brief overview of the necessary components required when setting up a data import. Please refer to our Data Imports - An Overview guide for a deep dive into the full process.

Documents You'll Need:
Data Mapping Spreadsheet

Article Contents:

The CSV File Format

While there are various file types that can be used when exporting data, the only one supported by Absorb for importing data is Comma Separated Values (CSV). It is important that you use this format when working with Absorb. You may want to review our support article, What is a CSV file and how do I save my spreadsheet as one?

Getting Started

Please note that you will want to contact your Client Success Manager (CSM) if you wish to set up a historical data import, or a scheduled CSV import. A historical data import is only done once, while a scheduled CSV import can be done automatically on a recurring schedule. E.g., every night an import will be conducted at 3:00 AM MST.

Data imports typically incur a set-up fee and your CSM can assist you with the process. A scoping call will be set up with our Implementations team to define your requirements, establish the timeline, and answer any questions that you may have about developing your CSV file(s). 

How to Set Up Your CSV File

The data being imported into Absorb must follow a specific format, and we recommend downloading and using the Absorb Data Mapping spreadsheet. The document includes multiple sheets, each titled to match a specific area of Absorb to make it simple to find the information you need.


An example of these is the Departments sheet/tab shown above. In this sheet, you can find the columns, data types, etc. that are available to set up your Departments. The Users sheet/tab is where you will find all User-related columns, data types, etc. The other tabs follow a similar format. You can refer to our Users Data Import Sample CSV file to view an example of a CSV set up with User data. 

Important for CSV Setup

CSV Data Formatting

It is imperative that the sample file provided to Absorb for testing is set up in the exact same format as the final CSV. Any changes to the formatting can result in delays and/or added costs. For this reason, we recommend using real data in your sample files, allowing us to identify quality issues earlier on.

Using ExternalId Values

ExternalId values uniquely identify and link related LMS records, and can be nearly any value you wish to use. It could be an External HRIS ID, email address, or anything else that is unique! These values can either be real data taken from a system external to Absorb, or purpose-generated for the sole use of the data import. Some data objects require an ExternalId and some do not (please see the Data Mapping document for specifics). In cases where the ExternalId is required and your data does not provide it, you will need to create an arbitrary unique value in your data. Our implementations team is always on hand to provide advice on data manipulation!

For example, when importing Users and their Course Enrollments into Absorb, the value User_ExternalId in the Course Enrollment table would refer to the User table's ExternalId, thereby relating the two elements during the import. 

Required Values

Ensure that you are including all required values in your CSV file during creation. Required values can be determined by the REQUIRED By Absorb column in the Data Mapping Spreadsheet. 


Validate Your Data

Before handing your import file off to Absorb, review and ensure that your data is valid. E.g., all external IDs are unique, referenced entities exist, special characters appear correctly, etc.

Note - Microsoft Excel will often adjust date formats depending on the user's settings, for this reason it's best to check data containing dates in a plain text application such as Notepad or Notepad++. 

Custom Fields

If your organization has data that will need to be added to custom fields in the User Profile, these can be treated the same as other fields in Absorb. The custom fields must be created in Absorb in advance so that data can be imported into it. We recommend creating all your custom fields in your production LMS portal as early in the import process as you can as this will save time later on. 

Published on
Have more questions? Submit a request


Article is closed for comments.