Navigating Dynamics 365 Migration

Published: 30 November 2023

Switching from one system to another can pose significant challenges, and Dynamics 365 CRM is no exception. It’s a complex undertaking where various issues can crop up, often extending the timeline beyond initial expectations. However, it remains crucial to keep your software up to date for improved productivity and security. Ensuring that your team seamlessly adapts to the new software is as vital as the data migration process itself.  However, it doesn’t stop there; tidying up the data and aligning the features are equally crucial, just as testing the software in a controlled environment before full deployment is. We’re coving some of the most important steps to the migration process:
 

  • Make sure your stakeholders are prepared 

For your migration to be successful, your stakeholders need to buy in. This is especially critical for a CRM as without the correct data you’re setting yourself up for failure. Stakeholders won’t be able to carry out their jobs. For this step, you need to highlight who are the data owners vs the business owners (technical vs users). Establish communication with both these teams and have a single source of contact within them.  Next, determine the hours required for these stakeholders to articulate their use cases, workflows, and business processes related to the data mapping procedure. 

  • What features do you need? 

With your key stakeholders and your vendor, it’s now time to discuss what features you’ll need in Dynamics 365 CRM. This is especially true if you’re migrating from an older system that doesn’t have the newer Cloud-based features. When performing a Dynamics 365 CRM data migration, it’s crucial to understand the workflows between departments. When implementing automation or other efficiency-enhancing features, ensure that your sales, marketing, and customer service teams evaluate and adjust workflows to optimise the platform and boost productivity. With Dynamics 365 CRM the major advantage is the easy integration with other Microsoft apps and Copilot. 

  • Clean up and map data 

While it might be tempting to simply do a direct ‘lift and dump’ of data, it’s better for your business to review the quality of your data and remove what you don’t need. Look at the fields you’re currently using, are they all necessary, are there different fields you think you need? Are there old leads or opportunities that you haven’t looked at in years? Which entities or tables need to be transferred, including specific fields? What will be the format of the data post-migration? Is the transfer an automated or manual process? Document all these steps and processes in a data mapping document. By identifying and mapping the data, you can determine the necessary modules for your new CRM.  

  • What migration tool will you use? 

The simplest way to migrate data into Dynamics 365 CRM is to use Microsoft’s Import Wizard. This tool will help you move the data in small pieces. The information from the source CRM needs to be transformed into a flattened file format before it can be mapped to the fields within Dynamics 365 CRM. 

  • Create migration integration scripts 

Creating your migration integration scripts (migration script lets you change a database by adjusting its structure) in a testing environment is the next phase. To make scripts faster, know the data source type and format. Then make index tables, create speedy queries, and define unique identifiers for source data, stored in your target data for better troubleshooting. 

  • Test, test, and test again. 

You need to make sure that you test both the script and the data transfer in your testing environment. This is vital to ensure all the information you want is included and in the correct format and calculate the time the migration will take. It will also route out any data quality issues before going live in the new environment. You should also make sure to carry out user acceptance testing. All of this ensures that problems can be fixed in a test environment, which is preferable to fixing them live. 

  • Deployment 

Once the testing team have green lit the Dynamics 365 CRM migrations, you’re ready to go live. It’s usually recommended that this takes time during a quieter period for your business, like weekends or overnight as this allows time for fixes. You also need to decide on when users will no longer have access to the old system. If migration is going to take time, then it’s advisable to allow read-only access for a length of time. 

Summary 

Dynamics 365 CRM migration requires careful planning and execution. From stakeholder engagement to deployment, each step plays a crucial role. Make stakeholder buy-in a priority, understand workflows, and ensure data cleanliness as a foundation. Take advantage of tools like Microsoft’s Import Wizard and efficient migration scripts. Carry out thorough testing to identify and resolve issues and begin go live during a quieter period to ensure a smooth transition. With these things in mind, you can confidently start migrating your data to Dynamics 365 for a strong digital setup. 

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