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What Data to Capture and the Import Process

There are a number of different needs and interests when it comes to putting data into Microsoft Dynamics CRM. These needs and interests are driven by the timing of the Microsoft Dynamics CRM project, the department and people with the interest, and the business processes. In general, no matter what the interest, most data tends to lend itself to being imported as a Lead so that you can use the system convert functionality to create relationship depth and the interconnection between records. An Account has a primary Contact, and a Contact has a relationship to an Account. Although you can import directly into Contacts, the Lead convert feature creates interdependence that you would otherwise have to manually enter.

There is an interest in importing data after a trade show or when a list of potential leads has been purchased and the interest list can go on. There is often a need to import data when a new staff person is hired or when a merger or acquisition occurs. With each need and interest, it is important to consider which tool to use to import data because each tool offers different advantages.

Data Import Wizard: Data Format

The Data Import Wizard enables end users to map Microsoft Dynamics CRM data fields to fields represented in the CSV file. For instance, if you know that the first field in your CSV file is the Company Name (because the first column in your Excel spreadsheet is Company Name), your map would associate the first field in the CSV file to the Account name in Microsoft Dynamics CRM. Figure 6.2 illustrates this.

Figure 6.2

Figure 6.2 Data mapping.

Another consideration is to where in Microsoft Dynamics CRM do you want to import this data? There are numerous choices, but for this discussion and in general, you are more likely to be importing this data into Leads than into Accounts or Contacts. To further expand, you are actually mapping the Company Name in your CSV file to the Company Name in the Leads pool (also known as the Leads entity [record type]). Figure 6.3 illustrates this.

Figure 6.3

Figure 6.3 Company Name mapping to Account Name.

The following is a look at a data mapping from the Data Import Wizard as we follow a process of importing a CSV file that contains two leads into the Leads pool in Microsoft Dynamics CRM:

  1. Select Imports from the My Work section of the left navigation pane.
  2. Choose New.

Once a new import is chosen, you will see the first import screen, as shown in Figure 6.4.

Figure 6.4

Figure 6.4 Starting a data import.

On this initial screen, you need to tell the system what the name of your CSV file is, where it is located, and how the data is delimited. Is the data separated by only commas or by commas and quotes? Are the quotes single quotes or double quotes?

You then proceed to the next screen (see Figure 6.5). This screen requests that you tell the system where in Microsoft Dynamics CRM you want to import your data and what data map to use to map the data in your file to the data in Microsoft Dynamics CRM. In our example, we import data into the Leads entity in Microsoft Dynamics CRM. We do not have an old data map to use, so we will create one in the following figures.

Figure 6.5

Figure 6.5 Select Record Type and Data Map.

Because a data map does not exist that defines the data within the data file I am using in this example, I choose to create a new data map by clicking the lookup icon next to the data map field in Figure 6.5. Once this is selected, Figure 6.6 appears.

Figure 6.6

Figure 6.6 Creating a new data map.

Create a new data map and continue to the creation of the details associated with the data map. The details include general details so that the map can be used again and the specific attribute mapping of the data fields in your data file (referred to as columns if you import sample data). It also shows how they relate to data fields in Microsoft Dynamics CRM (CRM refers to these as attributes), and if mapping to a list. Lastly which items from your data file will map to which items in the predefined list. Figure 6.7 shows the general details, which include the name of the data map so that it can be used again, who created it, and when it was created.

Figure 6.7

Figure 6.7 Name the data map.

In Figure 6.8, we actually map columns from your data file to attributes (fields) in Microsoft Dynamics CRM. Microsoft Dynamics CRM understands your data file because Microsoft Dynamics CRM offers the ability to upload a sample. The system uploads the first record from the data file, which is often the header row from a Microsoft Excel file. In my example, I included the names of the columns in the first row. Notice the section labeled Column Headers in Figure 6.8. The Target section of Figure 6.8 shows all the attributes (fields) in the Microsoft Dynamics CRM Lead entity (record type), and these can be selected and mapped to the column headings from your data file.

Figure 6.8

Figure 6.8 Mapping attributes.

In Figure 6.9, we take it one step further. We actually map a piece of data called source in our data file to the Lead attribute (field) source, which is a drop-down list. If the data does not exactly match items in the list, we must tell the system how the data in our source field maps to items in the source drop-down list attribute in Microsoft Dynamics CRM.

Figure 6.9

Figure 6.9 Matching drop-down list items.

After the data map is created, configured, and saved, we return to the data import process. The next step is to tell the system who will be assigned as the owner of the lead after data is imported and whether duplicate records should be included. We show how the system asks these questions in Figure 6.10. Note that most all core records within Microsoft Dynamics CRM have an owner. This owner could possibly be a specific user or the system, depending on what type of entity (record type) we are talking about. With regard to Leads, the owner is a specific Microsoft Dynamics CRM user.

Figure 6.10

Figure 6.10 Assign and duplicates.

Figure 6.11 shows that you can apply a name to the total import, offering easy reference when looking at the system messages regarding how many leads were imported and how many were errors.

Figure 6.11

Figure 6.11 Name the import.

Figure 6.12 and Figure 6.13 show how the import process appears when first started and how it reports when the data is completed.

Figure 6.12

Figure 6.12 System messages: Import Started.

Figure 6.13

Figure 6.13 System messages: Import Completed.

We then moved to displaying the new records as a list of new Leads as you can see in Figure 6.15. Figure 6.14 shows the data that was entered into Microsoft Excel and how it looks in Leads view.

Figure 6.14

Figure 6.14 Original data in Excel 2007: Leads to Import.

Figure 6.15

Figure 6.15 Leads: Import Completed.

We can also select a specific Lead and drill down into the details, change the details, or add to the details that were uploaded. After Leads are imported, the sales process usually goes through a qualification process. After a Lead is qualified, the Lead is converted to an Account.

Microsoft Dynamics CRM can also automate the process using the features and functionality of the Microsoft Windows Workflow Foundation (WWF). Hour 16, "Workflow: Creating Simple Workflow," focuses on creating simple workflows, but it is worth mentioning here that the system can be designed to automatically kick off an automated sales process when a Lead is converted or when an Opportunity is created.

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