In Part 1 we discussed the main components of a CRM migration including Data Model customizations, UI customizations, and the Data Migration itself.
The data migration can be the most difficult part of a CRM platform migration, sometimes by a long shot. This article provides a review of available options to bring your data into Dynamics 365 (D365), and some of the common challenges that can make it harder than expected.
Option 1: CRM Migration with the Import Data Wizard
The Import Data Wizard can import data from one or more comma-separated value (.csv), XML Spreadsheet 2003 (.xml), or text files. It allows for creating data maps with some data transformation capabilities. It can also perform lookups into some entities on the fly, duplication checks, and other validations.
The Import Data Wizard has many limitations though:
- It cannot read data directly from the source platform. Data must be exported into multiple flat files (CSV, XML, text), and then imported one by one into D365.
- Many entities are not supported, like Activity Parties, Contracts, parts of the Product Catalog, etc.
- It cannot update previously imported data; a different update method is required.
- Lookups are done by name, so when there are multiple records with the same name (for example, two Contacts with the same name), the lookups are unsuccessful.
- Many entities cannot be imported with the correct status. For example, Opportunities and Quotes can only be imported as open records. Updating the record status to closed cannot be done through the Import Data Wizard. Often, many additional steps are necessary to make the imported data match the source data.
- Mapping all users successfully can be very challenging. Often former system users have been disabled or removed from the source system. Links to these old user records are frequently missing or invalid.
- Dependencies are also difficult to handle. For example, when populating the Primary Contact for Accounts, the Contact record may not exist yet. Since the Data Import Wizard can’t do updates, linking related records after import requires sophisticated knowledge of mass update features and data integrity principles.
These are just some of the main limitations of doing CRM migration with the Import Wizard. This tool is not meant to be a complete migration solution. It’s better to consider it a means to perform the simplest CRM migrations (such as when all that is needed are Accounts and Contacts plus minimal other linked data). It can also be ideal for performing limited imports once a system is in production. An experienced D365 database administrator might get some decent mileage out of this tool for a small platform migration, but the effort required is hard to justify.
Option 2: CRM Migration with Third-Party Migration Software
There’s a variety of software solutions in the market to help facilitate data migrations into D365. Some are only a minor improvement over the Data Import Wizard, while others help make complex migrations possible through a robust set of features. Perhaps the most widely known tool available is from Scribe Software. They offer both a cloud solution (Scribe Online) and an on-premise solution (Scribe Insight). Here at TrellisPoint, we have used Scribe solutions for many years. We have achieved good outcomes using these tools for our clients, although not without various challenges and limitations. Here are some of Scribe’s pros and cons as experienced by our consulting team:
- Able to directly read and write data on many types of data sources, including on-premise databases and various cloud platforms
- Can insert, update and delete most available D365 entities
- Availability of a partner network and online community to assist if needed
- Complex mapping and cross-references are possible
- A steep learning curve that is hard to justify unless the tool is used well past the initial data migration for other tasks
- Complex migrations can be very labor-intensive and require highly technical skills at the level of database administrator or software developer
- Licensing price adds to the total cost of the migration
- Persistent bugs in the software can be frustrating and increase migration time
- As with the built-in Data Import Wizard, limited by difficult dependency requirements and other platform-specific restrictions in the D365 API. For example, Opportunities and Quotes can only be imported as open records, and closing them cannot be done through the Import Wizard. Many more steps are necessary, and it’s very difficult to make the imported data match the source.
Option 3: Leave CRM Migration to the professionals
You may be able to secure the services of a consultant or consulting firm to perform the platform migration for you. As with other IT projects, it can quickly become a very expensive proposition. While there are very capable CRM migration consultants, there are also many unreliable or overpriced consulting firms out there willing to take the job without the proper experience or expertise. On the other hand, the best D365 data migration professionals will save you time, headaches, budget, and the risk of data loss or even the possibility of a failed data migration.
The consulting team here at TrellisPoint has many years of experience performing simple and complex CRM migrations and data integrations. Over the years we have leveraged our experience to develop advanced internal tools that allow us to overcome the worst of the challenges mentioned above. Our process increases accuracy, speed, and reliability while lowering the total cost of migration. Here are the pros and cons of using TrellisPoint to perform a CRM platform migration:
- No need to spend time and effort learning complex software that may never be needed again
- Avoid the frustration of re-discovering convoluted and thorny issues that are already well-known to the professionals
- The most difficult entities to import will be populated with the highest degree of correctness allowed by the platform, allowing the source data to match the imported data as closely as possible. This greatly eases the common problem of information loss during CRM migration
- Keep your focus on your daily work and eliminate the distractions of yet another project
- The cost of CRM migration may be higher than doing it yourself if you have available technical staff with years of experience importing data into D365
The new TrellisPoint CRM Migration offering
In early-to-mid 2018, TrellisPoint will begin releasing new CRM Migration offerings which will include a free limited data migration. This means your own CRM data, moved to an actual 30-day Dynamics 365 trial instance ready for you to review and study within days. No planning, no meetings, and zero cost!
The trials may be limited to only Account and Contact information for example, and will likely include only existing fields in D365. Nevertheless, this will allow any organization to get a preview of how easy and straightforward a data migration can be when done by TrellisPoint experts, with no commitment required.
If you would like to speak to someone about this offering, please feel free to contact us here, or give us a call at (440) 390-1619.
TrellisPoint is a professional services firm specialized in the implementation, management, and maintenance of CRM systems. We have been assisting our clients with CRM migration and integration for decades, and have performed many successful and cost-effective migrations of different 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 CRM Migration Specialists will also be invaluable when the time comes to finally migrate the priceless data that your organization depends on. Please do not hesitate to contact us for a free, no commitment consultation.