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By Sandor Schellenberg, Solution Architect, Irelate Netherlands
A key component of every Microsoft
Dynamics CRM project is data migration.
You can have the most
wonderful and enriched CRM application, but without data it is in most cases
Too often, the importance of
data migration, along with the reliability of the data, are underestimated. If
you telephone clients, you want to use the most current telephone number, not
to mention, you want to know which quote you offered on a proposal is most
recent and which data you included in a report is the latest.
The problem with data
migration is that it tends to be neglected-in part because budget isn't
allocated for it, and a sense that existing data isn't that bad and that the
upgrading can occur "later."
Successful data migration begins
at the beginning of the Dynamics CRM project--during the process of gathering
the business requirements and writing the functional design. This phase in the
project is very important for establishing a foundation of including reliable
data for your new system.
At the end of this process,
you should know exactly what data is required, which data should be migrated,
and which external data you would need for your Dynamics CRM application.
Companies typically have one key source
of data--usually the system that would be replaced--and then several other
sources like a website, back office system, etc. It still amazing that key data
continues to be stored on the desktop...and often in our favourite Dynamics CRM application:
In more complex environments,
the migration specialist may have to gather the required data from several
sources. This quest for the right data could be go smoothly, but more likely, the
specialist will run into trouble. The most inconvenient problem would be
unreliable data. Then the key question becomes how we could determine which
data is reliable and which is not. After research and many queries and
comparisons, the specialist could come up with a proposal, which the business
should acknowledge and agree to be the best solution. In daily life, this would
take a lot of time with meetings, discussion etc etc.
Another related challenge is
data cleansing. After the reliable data is identified, the data source(s)
should cleansed before launching the design and building of the data migration
Is there one solution that
could prevent data migration problems? Unfortunately not. But here are several
suggestions that can help head off issues:
1. Your Dynamics CRM implementation requires a team with experienced
professionals, rather than a single individual. Team success in data migration
lies in the gathering of the requirements.
2. Immediately after the
project kick off, have the team conduct data analysis and assessment. This
assessment should give you the first feeling as to the possible issues you
would run into during the data migration process. You could immediately act on
the results of the assessment and prevent delays during later stages of the
3. Understand that the role
of the data migration specialist requires more than only migrating data from
source A to source B. The specialist needs to know about all the sources, such
as back office, website, etc. The specialist would be the one, who can help the
team determine or foresee coming issues regarding data integrity, reliability
and impact on the project.
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