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How do you import your data with Dynamics 365?

Once you have finished customizing your Dynamics 365 solution, you still have one more important step to complete: importing your data into your Dynamics 365. Many clients already have a database on hand. Whether your contacts are in Outlook, an Excel spreadsheet, an accounting system or even your former CRM application, all these data need to be imported.

If you’re starting your business, you can also start from scratch. In this case, you don’t need to import data since you have to build up your list of contacts for your new clientele. However, you will still find this blog helpful if, for example, you decide to set up a marketing list that you would like to import into your CRM.

This blog will cover the following topics:

  • How to prepare your data
  • How to import your data into your Dynamics 365 software
  • How to prepare your data before importing it into your Dynamics 365 CRM in 4 steps

Step #1 Take stock of the data to transfer

You need to do this initial step right when you start your project. By analyzing the different sources of data (accounting systems, Outlook, Excel files, etc.), you will realize that many people in your business maintain many lists, that data are duplicated in many places and that, all too often, data quality is sub-par.

Depending on the quantity and quality of the available data, you will need to figure out if all these data need to be transferred to your new CRM.

When you enjoy the support of a partner like Gestisoft, we prepare your templates for importation by providing an Excel spreadsheet that you have to fill out with the information that you have available. These templates correspond with the information that will show up in your accounts, contacts, opportunities and prospects forms.

Step #2 Extract the data

Depending on the source, extracting data can prove to be a somewhat technical process. In completing this step, you’re aiming to extract all the data of the same type and store them in a single Excel file. It will then be easier to manipulate them.

Step #3 Process your data

After extracting data from your various sources, you will need to compile data of the same type into a single list. These data will very likely need to be processed to bring them in line with the new data model. For example, create 2 data lists:

  • Accounts: Information about the business
  • Contact: Information about the people working at the business

The more coherent your lists are, the easier it will be to import your data. This exercise may seem lengthy, but it will pay off when you import these data into your Dynamics 365.

Step #4 Clean up your data

Put in the effort that’s required. If your current data include a lot of duplicates, they will pollute your CRM. Let me explain: if you have 2 ACME companies in your CRM, then your users may be using different ACME companies to enter their information. This type of duplication will decentralize the information collection process. Although Dynamics 365 can detect duplicates, the importation process can make things more complicated for you. Set aside some time in your schedule to do this exercise and, if possible, divide up the cleaning list amongst yourselves to save time.  

How to import your data into your Dynamics 365

This part of the blog will guide you through the steps to follow in your Dynamics 365.

First of all, it’s important to have the security role of administrator for your CRM to do these imports.

Before you begin

Before embarking on the process of importing your data, make sure that your Dynamics 365 does not already have sample data installed. If this is the case, then we suggest that you delete it.

As shown in the image below, you simply need to go through the following steps:

  • Settings → Data management → Sample data
  • If data are installed, you will have the option to “Delete sample data.”
  • Fill out import templates (Excel spreadsheets)

The advantage of having the help of a partner is that we simplify this step. Partners like Gestisoft can prepare these templates that you need to fill in with your available data. The provided templates can then be efficiently linked to the “Accounts and contact” forms of your CRM. The image below is an example of a template that you will need to fill out to effectively import your data.

Once you have filled out your Excel spreadsheets, you will need to save the files. You can save them in .csv format or as XML 2003 spreadsheets.

Import your data from Excel into Microsoft Dynamics 365

First of all, open your Dynamics 365. Next, in the ribbon, select Settings → Data management → Imports.

From this new screen, click on Import data → Choose File and select the file containing your import templates (Excel spreadsheet).

Click the next button and select the default option, “Automatic Mapping,” from the drop down list.

What is “mapping”?

“Mapping” data lets you link the data entered into your Excel spreadsheet to Dynamics 365. This ensures that your column headings match up in your forms.

The image below will help you visualize this. On the left, you’ll find the column headings that can be found in your import template (Excel spreadsheet) and, on the right, you’ll see the fields that can be found in the Contact form in Dynamics 365.

Here, you need to “map” the type of data. Select the type of form for which you need to import the data; in this case, it’s for the Contact form in your Dynamics 365 CRM.

The next screen will ask you to create the link between the column headings from your Excel spreadsheet and the name of the fields in the Contact form of your Dynamics 365 CRM. You may not have all the data that is in your Contact form. It will be up to you and your team to complete these data when you view these Contact pages once they’re imported into your CRM.

Import times will vary depending on the amount of data you want to import into your CRM. Once you have completed the transfer, Dynamics 365 will update you on the status of the data transfer.  

When you have finished importing, make sure that the results meet your expectations by viewing a Contact form.

You’ll need to investigate any errors that come up. There is no magic solution for fixing import errors, but I surveyed various consulting colleagues of mine who specialize in CRM at Gestisoft to help you out with this. You may encounter the following 3 issues during this process:

  • The format of the fields in the CRM do not match the type of data that you want to import
  • Incorrect mapping before the data was imported
  • The cell format type of your Excel spreadsheet does not match the type of data that can be included in the field in your CRM form

To conclude, the best advice that we can give you is to take the time to fill out your import templates properly. This can make the difference between needing 10 minutes or an entire day to import your data.

Do you need help importing a lot of data ? Contact one of our experts today!

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June 11, 2021 by Frédéric Charest VP of Marketing

Data-driven Growth Marketer with a Passion for SEO - Driving Results through Analytics and Optimization