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Evaluating Approaches to Dynamics CRM Data Migration

Enterprise software systems like CRM and ERP require data; that’s not a surprise to anyone.  For ERP, data helps drive functions like MRP, and for CRM, it supports sales forecasting and customer segmentation.  Data is critical to the effectiveness of these systems and very rarely do organizations implement ERP or CRM as ‘plug and play.’  Instead, they seed the system with existing / historical data to:

  • Ensure continuity of business
  • Support business processes, and
  • Enable good decision making, providing the necessary context and background

So, whether you are migrating data as a result of a new implementation, a re-implementation or a migration to CRM online, it is important to understand the process for migrating data from the source system (or systems) to the target system, Dynamics CRM.

Dynamics CRM Data Migration Process

Generally, CRM data migration can be broken down into 5 phases: Design / Plan, Extract, Transform, Load, and Verify.

1. Design / Plan

Identify where the data is being stored (data sources), and determine what needs to be migrated. It is useful to evaluate how many records will need to be migrated for each entity / object, as it will help determine the most appropriate migration approach, and each parties’ responsibilities.  Finally, map fields from the source system to the corresponding target fields / entities in CRM.

2. Extract

Extract the data from the source system(s).

3. Transform

Transform the data so that it is compliant with the target system (Dynamics CRM) and ready to be imported. This process may include changing data types, modifying formats, and at times, data cleansing and de-duplication.

4. Load

Import the data into the target system. This can be done through automated scripts, tools such as Scribe or SSIS, or manually.

5. Verify

Verify that the data has been migrated successfully. This can be done by: comparing record counts, spot checking records, or by developing validation routines.  In order to mitigate risks associated with go-live, generally a test migration should be done as part of UAT.  Catapult typically recommends that data validation / verification be done by the client.

As you begin the planning process, you’ll begin to answer what data needs to be migrated to CRM, from where, by whom, and how?  Typically the ‘how’ is identifying a migration approach, which will help determine the effort required to extract, transform and load the data into the target system.  Generally, it also determines roles and responsibilities as they relate to each migration.

Where possible, Catapult encourages clients to take on responsibility for some aspects of data migration.  This helps keep costs down, leads to higher data quality, and ensures clients are invested in the migration process.

Dynamics CRM Data Migration Approaches

We’ve found there are many approaches for migrating data to Dynamics CRM, each with their strengths and weaknesses with regards to: effort, speed / performance, fees (cost), and support for complex mappings.

Click here to download a PDF copy of this matrix

Planning / Scoping

At Catapult, we find that a simple Excel sheet works well for high-level planning and scoping of data migration.  In addition to identifying what entities will be migrated, the data source(s), and the approach, the spreadsheet allows us to effectively communicate to all stakeholders: who is responsible for each phase of migration (design, extract, transform, load, verify), and the estimated effort.  It also helps mitigate some of the risks or traps which I will outline in my next post on the top 5 CRM data migration traps.

Dynamics CRM Data Migration Planning Excel

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