So here’s the scenario. You want to call down a list of Leads and update them as you go. Rather than going through the list in CRM, you would like to make edits directly in Microsoft Excel (or, possibly, you may want to provide the list to a third party to make calls using Excel and then import the results back into CRM). There are many similar scenarios (for example, some of our clients use CRM for candidate management and they manage large lists of contacts at targeted companies that they frequently need to update in bulk – Excel is perfect for that scenario). Using CRM 2011, records can be exported, modified and re-imported with an ease and delight never before dreamed possible! Here’s how:
First off, you’ll need to export the records that you wish to update. Note that, even if you just want to create new records “in bulk” using Excel, you can start by exporting records from CRM to create a template that is easier to import later. To export, follow the steps below:
Now you’re ready to move forward with making changes to the file. Before doing so, you may want to pause here to get over your annoyance at all the extra stuff you had to read so far in order to wade through these instructions. Hey – it’s a blog and it’s free and I’ve gotta do something to keep myself entertained while writing these things. So assume the lotus position and let go of the anger before moving forward.
Okay, here we are, ready to make updates to records. Actually, this is very simple. You can just open the spreadsheet, make your edits and save it. If you want to add records, then you can add them right to the end of the list before you save. Yes, it’s that easy. And if you order today, Microsoft will throw in a set of Ginsu knives! (I’ll likely get a cease and desist from the ginsu legal department for that comment – so if I change it to “free toaster” later, you’ll know why).
Back to business! There are a few things you’ll want to know as you make your edits. Microsoft has really beefed up how easy it is to edit records in Excel now. These changes will help you to avoid errors and speed your data entry. Here’s a quick overview with a picture. The picture really doesn’t add any value – but I’m told that pictures make people happy and words make people frown. I want people to be happy, so I include a picture.
One question I am frequently asked is: “why are the first columns missing in the Excel file?” Actually, I’ve never been asked that question, but doesn’t it make it sound more credible when I preface my comment with that statement? Here’s why: Dynamics CRM embeds some hidden columns containing ID numbers and revision dates. This enables CRM to ensure that it doesn’t create duplicate records and to be sure that changes made in Excel don’t overwrite more recent changes that may have been made directly to Dynamics CRM. Wasn’t that thoughtful of Microsoft to think about that? One of their product managers came up with the idea for that at a corporate retreat while they were singing “cum by ya” around the campfire. I get misty every time that I tell that story.
Last step. Only a few more paragraphs of this madness before you can be done with this posting! Let’s get right to it.
Voila! The little gerbils inside of the Dynamics CRM import engine get right to work importing your data. Those little suckers are running pretty hard, but it still may take a while for them to finish importing all of your data. You can click the handy-dandy link to the Imports part of the workplace area if you want to check the status of your import – or you can navigate there manually if you’re a glutton for punishment. If any of your data is not valid, then you can check the import job to see what type of errors occurred.
* So you’re probably wondering what happens if you export the owner name and change it and then import the records. Will CRM reassign the records to the new owner. Well here’s the honest answer: I don’t know and I don’t feel like checking that out right now. Find out for yourself and post it as a comment to this blog!
I hope you enjoyed reading this blog entry as much as I enjoyed writing it. Let us know what you think – do you like a side-dish of sarcastic entertainment with your informative blog, or would you prefer just a pain course of sarcasm without any intelligence at all? We want to hear from you and we promise to approve all comments that are complementary in nature.
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Great article- it walks people through the process in an entertaining way. By the way, I checked, and exporting the Owner name field, changing it and importing does reassign the record, assuming you type the name correctly.
Great post Geoff... Seriously if everyone only made it this simple to understand the import/export functionality of CRM. I'm also new to CRM, but the way you explained it makes working with CRM 'un-painful'
I LOVE the way you write instructions. I wish more IT folks were not so dry. thank you. Mike
Many thanks Mike! Kudos are the energy drink of bloggers!
Sure would be nice if they would get around to making lookups work in an exported excel spreadsheet. I'm new to CRM, but from what I can tell it's still not implemented.
Great article. Quick question. Lets say you have a list of institutions in Dynamics CRM and you receive updates to this list from a third party. You want to import the updates, but don't want to add duplicate records. How can one accomplish this?One can't export the data first and then reimport it - since it isn't coming from Dynamics CRM but from a third party...and the third party doesn't know the ID's that are being used in the Dynamics CRM?
Fantastic! Loved it! Keep up the humor; too many blogs are just plain old boring!
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