Once you have chosen to deploy Microsoft Dynamics CRM, one of the first challenges you will face is getting your data out of your existing CRM solution and into your Microsoft Dynamics CRM database for the first time. Most small businesses use some combination of spreadsheets, BCM, or a CRM-like application, such as Goldmine or Act. Fortunately, many CRM systems will allow you to export your data to a spreadsheet in either .csv, .xml, .txt, or .zip formats, and Microsoft Dynamics CRM makes it pretty easy to import these records into your new CRM database using the Import Data Wizard.
The Import Data Wizard
To access the Import Data Wizard, navigate to Settings > Data Management, and click Imports. Once the My Imports View opens, you will see an option in the Command Bar labeled “Import Data.” Click the Import Data button in the Command Bar to open the Import Data Wizard.
The Import Data Wizard allows you to import data from .xml, .csv, .txt, and .zip files. Once you have selected the file that you wish to upload, the Import Data Wizard will ask you to choose a CRM record type and then requires that you map the fields in the source file to fields within CRM, which is the most challenging part of using the wizard.
Templates for Data Import
Microsoft Dynamics CRM also provides you with the option to utilize one of the out-of-the-box Templates for Data Import to make the initial data importation process more seamless and a little less challenging. Dynamics CRM provides templates for all of the entities in the system, including common ones such as Contact, Opportunity, Lead, Account, and Case records. To access the templates, navigate to Settings > Data Management, and click Templates for Data Import.
The Templates for Data Import work great for importing data and creating standard records in your database because the fields are already mapped for you. An important tip to keep in mind is that you don’t have to fill every column of the template. You can leave columns you don’t plant to use blank or delete the columns altogether. However, you will need to make sure that you don’t have data on your spreadsheet outside of a labeled column. If you do, your import will fail.
Creating Custom Templates Using Advanced Find
You can also create your own customized Templates for Data Import using the Advanced Find tool. This approach is especially useful if you have created custom fields or entities in your Microsoft Dynamics CRM database. The video below walks you through the process of creating your own templates using the Advanced Find tool.