The Diary of a CRM Migration - Part 1

The Diary of a CRM Migration – Part 1: So, you’re migrating to Dynamics 365

A quick disclaimer before I begin. This article, and those to follow, are based upon personal experiences and from experiences of others I have spoken to. What I write here is my opinion and my personal recommendations, none of it is reflective of the views of my employer. I should also make clear that any people I write about here are not real but are fictitious composites made up of conversations that we’ve all had.

Deep Breath… and exhale. You’ve got this. Just come out and say the words…

Hi. My name is Arthur and I’m a Dynamics CRM 2011 Administrator.

See, that wasn’t that difficult was it? No rotten tomatoes heading your way, no angry mobs with pitchforks and flaming torches, no immediate cries to sit down and shut up.

Phew – that feels good to get off my chest.

Anyway, what’s this then? This is my diary. I figured that now was a good time to start, and the exciting times ahead should be well worth the digital paper I’m consuming right now.

Out of curiosity how many other folks are still running Dynamics CRM 2011 On-Premise? Don’t be shy!

You see there’s more of us than would like to admit it.

It’s not really surprising as 2011 was such a solid product and many organisations could not/would not see the value in moving away from a platform that the users were familiar with and that allowed, even encouraged, major customisation. And it was oh so easy to use.

I say WAS because it’s starting to become a little bit more demanding these days, a bit more needy, and a whole lot more difficult to keep going. Sounds just like my old dog. I miss that dog. Lord Snufflewump III, the greatest companion an armchair lover like me could ask for.

Oh yeah, that’s right, the old dog comparison. I don’t know about you but our CRM is sat on a couple of tin boxes in a dusty corner of “Down Below” that have so many dodgy smells coming from them I really don’t know how they are still alive. The disk drives sound more like a learner driver dealing with a manual gearbox for the first time, and the fans sound more like asthmatic grannies.

But wait, there’s even more. For once you switch on the 14″ SVGA monitors, you are greeted with the splendour that was Windows 2008 R2.

I’m sure that many of you can relate to this? I hope so or I’m going to be writing/talking to an empty room.

Anyway – There’s GOOD NEWS!

The powers-that-be on the Upper Floor (that’s so high I get a nosebleed in the lifts!) have been hearing murmurings about this thing called “The Cloud” and a shiny tool called “Dynamics 365”. What’s more is that they have managed to connect this new-fangled Dynamics 365 to the mysterious Office 365 and joined the dots.

Even better is the fact that they have reviewed the costings that Del-Boy Daley the PM threw together and they’ve spotted that CRM 2011 is actually costing them more money than the shiny world of Dynamics 365 would cost.

And so we rejoice, for the powers-that-be (TPTB) have decreed that yes, we shall migrate to the cloud!


Sorry what now? Erm… OK – Put the £2.99 champers on ice please.

So, it turns out that this is actually a big leap and is not quite the simple upgrade that it once was.

I can’t just jump from the murky waters of 2011 to the sparkling azure waters of Dynamics 365 (did you see what I did there?!) – I just knew that the plug in that identified contacts based on their Tinder activity was a bad idea. And as for the Javascript that ensures all our contacts are colour-coded according to their spouse’s birthday – well, that just is not going to work now. You may think these things trivial dear reader, but you try telling this to Patty, Pete and Primrose from Potential Purchases! They live for these bits of code and their loss will be a “Big Deal” according to TPTB.

Now I acknowledge that there are things such as Lifecycle Services or Fasttrack out there, which are great if you have access to them and assuming that you want to do a lift’n’shift upgrade from a system that is customised only in fully supported ways.

Except we were all encouraged to customise 2011, and there were a lot of sneaky little hacks and tweaks to make our lives better… and these are not supported and will cause things to go boom in an unpleasant manner. We knew this to be the case, but it was just “Oh So Easy” – how could we resist?!?

It’s not just the customisations and hacks that cause problems though, our data is about as organised and maintained as Arthur Jr’s vast Lego collection (my foot still bears the scars of that corner brick I stood on last week). Do we need to know about the Pinterest pins we exchanged with Mabel Dorringforth from BHS 5 years ago? No we don’t. Nor do we need to remind ourselves of that time that we had an over-eager YTS trainee who insisted that we need to store the shirt colours of every event attendee at SuperCorpCon 2013.

In fact, when it’s all reviewed, we only need about 20% of our huge database… ah, erm, well… that just makes things a bit more “interesting” and offers “more opportunities for growth and development” in management speak.

In the cold light of day what this all this means is that, with the pennies allocated and approved and the purse strings being sealed with pure adamantium, it’s up to good old Arthur here to work out a way of getting from the land of the dinosaurs to the home of the Jetsons… and with only the luggage we actually need.

Time for a coffee, a fig roll, and a little scream in the corner – and then on with the project!

Welcome to the first in a series of post looking at the planning, processes, pitfalls, and execution of a migration from Dynamics CRM 2011 On-Premise to Dynamics 365 Online.

I’ll be sharing the adventures of Arthur and his Diary and then looking at the different elements of a migration project – a bit of light frivolity, followed by some procedural/technical/professional thinking and direction.

I’m not an expert, and I have no doubt that others will do things differently, but my hope is that I can help you build a framework for your own migration project and that you’ll pick and choose the bits that are most helpful to you. These posts are about sharing my own personal experiences, and lessons I’ve learnt, along with advice I’ve received and conversations I’ve had with other folks out there in the wider Dynamics 365 community.

I really need to give a big shout out to the community. If you follow me on twitter, or see me on LinkedIn, you will know that #community is probably in 90% of my posts. I’m not going to try and name individuals who helped me out, because you can bet I would miss people out. The simple fact that I was able to post questions and would get a response (usually unbelievably quickly) from people all over the world, was a massive support to me through the project and definitely played a role in keeping my head on straight throughout the long days, weeks, and months. So to all the folks on Twitter, LinkedIn, TDG, BlackOps and the Usergroups – THANK YOU! You folks absolutely ROCK and really do show just how a community should work together!

As we go through these posts, please feel free to contact me and share your own thoughts and experiences, or ask me any questions you have, and I’ll try to include them as we go along.

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