Beyond the daily value the CRM platform provides, Microsoft Dynamics 365 enables companies to grow and mold their business through large-scale, transformational projects. Sometimes the need for these projects is due to an internal business change, like a merger, acquisition, or divestiture.
But it’s just as likely that an industry shift precipitates the need to evolve. A study by LogicMonitor found 87% of global IT decision makers will speed up their migration to the cloud, with 74% expecting nearly all workloads to be in the cloud within the next five years.
It’s no surprise then that the most significant digital transformation initiative a company undertakes is often its first move from a legacy, even non-cloud, system into Dynamics 365. Other examples of transformations include deploying new instances for a new business division, migrating data from one instance to another, and integrating third-party applications.
Whatever the reason, these projects must not disrupt day-to-day activities by accidentally corrupting or deleting data. When you combine the risks that come with cloud complexity and your company’s responsibility to protect its data, the results can be disastrous, even if it resides in a reliable and secure platform as Dynamics 365.
Let’s walk through how you can manage common risks of instance migrations and implementations, as well as why you need a cloud data protection platform in place before undergoing these projects.
What to consider during a migration or implementation
1. Review active workflows and Power Automate Flows
Prior to a data import, you must consider how not just the data, but the metadata in your instance will be affected. For example, in Dynamics 365, you can create a plug-in or flow that sends an email upon the performance of a certain action. Not disabling active flows or plug-ins that affect migration objects could cause you to send unwanted emails to hundreds or even thousands of customers.
How to lessen the risk: It’s best to disable any active flows or plug-ins before a large data import. You should also check to see if you should add, modify, or delete any validation rules. Some validation rules may not be 100% compliant with legacy data (or the other way around). For example, one rule might have all state names abbreviated, while another requires spelling out. While the quick fix temporarily deactivates the blocking rule, the better solution here is to modify the data before uploading or slightly adapting the validation rule.
2. Import tables/columns in the correct order
When migrating data between Dynamics 365 instances, you need to make sure you’re keeping the relationships intact. Dynamics is a relational database, which means changes made to parent records (like Accounts) can have unintended effects on child records (like Contacts). If not done correctly, your business could be at high risk of moving corrupted data, including accounts that are missing opportunities, campaigns that are missing members, or opportunities that are missing products.
How to lessen the risk: Know the correct order of migration. In Dynamics 365, relationships that exist between entities and dependencies dictate the order of migration. For example, move Users first, then Accounts, then Contacts, then Opportunities. Doing this will ensure that you are keeping the parent and child data relationships intact, thus maintaining the integrity of your data.
3. Start in a sandbox
Although data migrations and implementations are often necessary for Dynamics 365 transformations, these migrations always pose a risk of incorrect data being overwritten, with large volumes of data being moved and/or consolidated.
As an example, a financial services provider almost lost critical attachments during their Dynamics 365 migration. Even though their Dynamics 365 admin had a careful process for converting their documents to files in batches, the admin missed one batch containing about 90,000 attachments due to an error in the tool.
Trying to clean up a data mess like this can take days, weeks, or even months of developer time. It would be better to spend this time developing new features and functionality. According to Stripe, companies lose upward of $300 billion because developers pour time into fixing bad software.
How to lessen the risk: Test in a sandbox. Migrate a small subset of your data in a recently refreshed full sandbox. This environment is a complete duplication of your Dynamics 365 production data, including all configuration, code, and data, and will ensure that all issues are exposed early. Testing in a sandbox will allow you to make any required fixes easily before they cause errors in production.
Why it’s critical to back up your data before a major project
In addition to these steps you can take, there’s one more way to lessen your data loss risk during these projects: have a solid data protection foundation. No matter how careful you are, mistakes are bound to happen when moving hundreds or thousands of records. Microsoft recommends you keep a regular backup of your data and do a manual point-in-time backup before moving forward with any major data project in your organization.
When considering such a solution, it must have intuitive data identification tools and fast recovery times in a data loss scenario. It would help if you’re also sure the solution meets your company’s security and compliance requirements and provides accessible, reliable backups of your Dynamics 365 data and attachments.
One more thing: Don’t wait until your go-live date to implement your backup. Many organizations wait to implement a backup solution until they have live data in their instance. But having a solution in place before going live will allow you to back up your sandbox environments and monitor any changes to your environment as various developers and system integrators (SIs) prepare your environment for deployment.
Eliminate data downtime during a migration or implementation
It’s important to mitigate your business risk during these transformative initiatives. With Own, you minimize business disruption during your next major data migration or implementation by proactively protecting your Dynamics 365 CE and Power Platform data with a solution that includes:
On-demand backups: While Own performs daily, scheduled backups of all of your data, and attachments, you can also run an on-demand backup before a big migration or implementation. Just click a button to back up any or all data at any time instantly.
See the difference: If you suspect something did go wrong, or you made an error, those mistakes are easy to identify. With Own, you can review data and metadata side-by-side to see additions, deletions, or changes. Visual graphs illustrate how data changed over time, making it simple to pinpoint when unusual behaviors occurred.
Precision Repair: When recovering your data, maintaining data integrity is key. With Own, you can proceed with confidence knowing that your data will be recovered, with relationships intact, up to ten levels deep. You can go back in time to restore the exact data you need without rolling back with a full database restore.
Get started with a custom demo to learn more about how Own can protect your mission-critical data during a migration or implementation.