Best practices and preparation for Data Import for Dynamics 365

Data migration is one of the top priority tasks in Dynamics 365 solutions. For majority of clients they have some data to be migrated to the new solution. And every client want their data to be perfect. So it is highly important that data is well prepared before doing any imports. Objective of this article is to highlight some of the best practices that you should follow up when preparing data.

Following diagram illustrate the process.

dataimport01

As we all know client data can come from different sources. First step is analyze data and cleanse them. This involves removing duplicates. You can use tools like Microsoft Excel. Some instances you might want to extract additional datafiles from the existing files when removing duplicates.

Dynamics 365 does not allow you to directly import data to composite fields like Full Name. You must separate them in your data before import. For instance, you must separate the Full Name as First Name and the last name.

Also in your data, there will be empty columns and you must remove them before the import. Next, you must format the data. For instance, applying proper date formats.

Since data is coming from different sources, there will be nonprintable characters such as null, backspace, etc. within the data to be imported. You can use notepad++ with TextFX plugin to remove such characters.

Sometimes, you will find unwanted characters are also in certain data fields such as GUIDs. You can easily remove them using the LEFT function of MS Excel.

One important step that you must do here is that you must identify bidirectional dependencies as well. For instance, accounts depends on contacts for primary contact and the contact depends on accounts for company information. In such scenarios zip those files together before the import.

Now that you have cleaned data, next step is to decide the order in which the data files will be imported. For this, you should have a good understanding of the entity hierarchy Dynamics 365 and spend some time on understanding which records must be imported first. For instance, before you import accounts, you must have primary contacts imported. You can simply add a number to the file name to indicate the order in which the files are to be imported.

If you follow up these techniques, you can ensure high quality data import and end of the day your clients will be happy.

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