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3 min read

CRM Migration: Part 1

CRM Migration: Part 1

Having an up to date CRM system is part of the foundation of a growing business. It allows an organization to grow and adapt to changes in their customers and industry. Businesses with an outdated system can feel irreversibly tied to it. They may want to migrate to a new system, but are unable to answer the fundamental question of how to make the jump to a new CRM system. As a result, they remain stuck with a solution they don’t want. In this article we will review the three steps common to all CRM migrations, focusing on how they apply to Dynamics 365.

Three Steps Common in Data Migration

  1. Data Model customizations
  2. User Interface (UI) customizations
  3. Data migration

Data Model Customizations

First, replicate your current data model in Dynamics 365. Every table and field in your system must have an equivalent in D365. Many CRM solutions do not allow for extensive customizations. Fortunately, customization is an area where D365 thrives.

Modeling your data requires hard work and excellent communication. A team with a deep understanding of the data on both systems must be responsible for successful data modeling. Knowledge of how the organization makes use of the original database is essential.

In addition to this, it may take several meetings to hash out a good data model. But as a result, the hard work will make data migration much easier. The end result should be a 1 to 1 mapping of entities and fields from the old system to the new one. A customization professional can then create entities, fields and relationships not already in D365.

User Interface (UI) Customizations

Next, modify the Dynamics 365 user interface. It should be a clean, simple design that improves on the old system. In most cases, D365 can mirror the look and functionality of the old system. Dynamics has an extensive toolbox of features that should enhance your end users’ experience. Most noteworthy, in Dynamics 365 most modifications involve low or no-code solutions.

Old CRM systems might require time and money on custom development to achieve key functionality. If you do require custom development, Microsoft has a rich library of sample code explaining how to extend Dynamics 365. Developers familiar with JavaScript or .NET will have no problem learning the Dynamics framework. As a result, this step of the process should be the quickest.

Data Migration

Finally, migrate your original data into D365. The success of the migration depends heavily on the planning done in step one. The migration process can be relatively painless, but you should always account for some complications. You can expect significant increases in time needed to complete the migration if data modeling was done sloppily. Therefore, spend a lot of time on step one of this process. It will pay dividends!

OOB Dynamics 365 data migration tools:

  • Dynamics 365 Data Import Wizard: This simple method allows you to import data in bulk. You can use data templates, which is simply an Excel file downloaded from D365. The file has the fields pre-mapped. All this requires you to do is fill in the columns with the appropriate information and import.
  • Data Loader Service: This method is similar to the Data Import Wizard, but allows you to import multiple flat files at a time. This method is currently only available for Dynamics 365 Online instances.

Using any of these two tools should suffice for your data migration needs. If your business has large amounts of data, it may be necessary to utilize a third party data migration service such as Scribe.

In conclusion, the concept of data migration is simple, but in practice is a very involved process. Hopefully this has provided a simplified overview of the steps in migrating to a new CRM solution. The key to success is spending the most time on data modeling. The work done here determines the success of a system change.

In my next article I’ll go into the details of how a simple Data Migration can be performed. I’ll also discuss what to do when the migration is not so simple.

About TrellisPoint

TrellisPoint is a professional services firm specialized in the implementation, management and maintenance of CRM systems. We have been assisting our clients with data migrations and integrations for decades, and have performed many successful and cost-effective migrations from various CRM databases into Dynamics 365. Our Strategy and Business Analysts can be extremely helpful to your organization in performing business process mapping, data mapping and user interface design. Our Data Migration Specialists will also be invaluable when the time comes to migrate the priceless data that your organization depends on. Please do not hesitate to contact us for a free consultation with no commitment required.

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