Put a Smile on Your Face with the CRM 2011 Import Process

Importing into CRM before was always a bit of a challenge for me. I did not do it often and when I did I found the re-education less than intuitive. Well the import process for CRM 2011 makes sense to me and I don't mind telling you, I am a big fan. I think you will be too. 

The new process is available across CRM and walks you through choosing the file, mapping the fields, assigning the records, and even creating new fields on the fly! And where you start the import does not have to be where you end up, meaning, you may be in Accounts and click the Import Data button but realize you need to import the data to leads. The import process always asks for the record type, or data group to which you want the data imported.

There are a few preconfigured imports templates included. Among them is a generic one to get you started. You can also save the maps as customized maps to be used for those repetitive imports.

Then, depending on the map you choose, the data import wizard will try to match the fields in the data you are importing with fields in the data group into which you are importing. For the ones that do not match, you can map them yourself.

Maybe you realize you have some fields that are not currently created in CRM; Not to fear, the wizard will allow you to create them right then AND you can create validation for the field using  the values in the data you are importing.

And it does not stop there! Often there are fields in my imports that are used for some reason that does not pertain to what I am doing so I don't really need them in my import process. Usually I would go in and delete those columns before starting, I don't have to do that anymore, the CRM 2011 import process allows me to ignore those columns. The process also allows me to actively ignore (using the mapping dropdown to choose ignore) or just leave it as unmapped. If I have unmapped records and continue with the process the process will let me know these unmapped fields will be ignored and will let me proceed. Nice.

Finally, the wizard will give me a link to the area in CRM where I can see if the process was successful, what records imported and what records did not. and some indication as to why not.

It may be wrong to be this excited about an import process but what can I say, stream lined, intuitive processes that handle stuff I never dreamed to ask for put a smile on my face and a spring in my step. I think CRM 2011 might do the same for you.

by Paige L. Cassada of Intelligent Technologies, Inc. a Microsoft Dynamics partner in North Carolina

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