A Salesforce to Dynamics 365 migration could be fairly straightforward if your company and business processes are relatively simple. That relative complexity is one of the first things our team explores with clients, and we have led hundreds of successful, secure migrations to D365 in the last 16+ years. This post quickly outlines where the complexities and problem areas might be with a Salesforce to Dynamics 365 migration.

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Some of these additional resources might be helpful for your team before you tackle a Salesforce to Dynamics 365 migration.

1. Involve Your Key Stakeholders Early in This Project

I bet you would be surprised at how often teams misidentify the true “key stakeholders” in their organization when implementing a new CRM. In this case, some of the most valuable voices at the table are the sales team members at the bottom of the organization chart.

Yes, your leadership team’s priorities and direction are critical. But when it comes to pulling off a truly successful CRM switch that improves your sales processes, shortens your sales cycle, and makes a positive impact on revenue for your team — you need to know how your team is actually using Salesforce. And here is why.

This switch is a tremendous opportunity to briefly pause and re-evaluate your sales processes. If you are making a change from Salesforce to another sales force automation tool, why replicate the headaches you already have?

Teams that truly gather input from end users across the board early in the change process have a lower change management cost and better processes as they start using Dynamics 365 Sales. Seeing the problems with your current processes and ways to improve them should be a place where your migration partner can offer invaluable input, options, and training.

2. Focus on the Data Before Your Salesforce to Dynamics 365 Migration

There are two general kinds of data migration that might be involved in a Salesforce to Dynamics 365 migration.

The first is where a team has been using Salesforce as an out-of-the-box system for a relatively short period of time (less than 3 years). In that scenario, there generally is not a high volume of records, and the data migration should not be complicated. A team like Cobalt can securely extract your data and easily pull it back into Dynamics 365 Sales quickly.

The second data migration scenario is where your team has made modifications to the standard Salesforce configuration and/or used that customized system for a while. That is where the trickier data mapping and migration challenges come into play. Getting that data out of Salesforce and into Dynamics 365 takes some true expertise and larger volumes of records and data only complicate a data migration that is already complicated to begin with.

3. Think About Data Cleansing and Your Budget

Depending on which data migration scenario your team is facing, as you switch CRM systems, it may be a prime opportunity to do some data cleansing. Take a close look at what you are currently using the system for and how much of that needs to be moved over. Why? Those things will likely be the biggest drivers of the time requirements and bottom-line cost for this switch.

We frequently see clients who have 10 years of data and/or specific functions of their system they are not using anymore. To the extent that we can help you identify and leave those things out of your new system and configuration, you will save time and money up front and over the long-haul with monthly storage costs.

Essentially, you only want to move the data that aligns with your plan for using D365. Granted, there are some legitimate use cases for keeping and migrating old data. Here is a great, simple question to ask as you look at what data to bring. Do you currently have data from your last migration that you brought into Salesforce — and that you have not used? Get rid of it, along with partial data and bad data.

As a compromise, you could grab a historical snapshot of a customer’s information and pull that in as a notes or text field. In that case you could still access the information without cluttering up the main system. Yes, you lose the ability to report on this data, but if it was old and incomplete to begin with that ship has already sailed.

The data cleansing work is another crucial place where your key stakeholders should be involved.  You will want to establish some baseline rules for which data and records are still valuable. If you have not had contact with a customer in years, or the contact has not been updated, you are probably dealing with bad data.

As a general rule, most companies will only want to bring in contact records if it has data for the name, email, and phone fields, and has been updated in the last two years. That said, those general timelines and rules can vary, based on your business, sales cycles, data, and other variables. Our team is experienced at working with our clients to strike the right balance.

There’s a lot you can do internally today, as well. Our new CRM Data Management post has some very practical advice for cleaning up your CRM data. It would be a great place to start before you press too far into a Salesforce to Dynamics 365 migration project.

4. Your Salesforce to Dynamics 365 Migration Timeline: Start Early

If you have the luxury to do it, start this process early before your contract is up with Salesforce. An ideal situation would be to do at least an initial migration months before your contract is finished. If you can afford to continue to pay for one Salesforce user just so you have access to your old data, that provides an extra level of flexibility to this project.

That strategy opens up the possibility of a staged migration where you can bring the most essential and highest value data in now, and pull in more later, if you need it. The money you spend on a single Salesforce user for an extra year could be far less than the cost of cluttering up your shiny, new CRM and paying for data storage that you really do not need.

So, if you can plan 6-9 months out, or far enough in advance that you have overlap between the two systems, that is very helpful. It will allow you the freedom to be more ruthless in your migration strategy to start. To start, we ask customers to chunk their data into three broad categories:

  • the data you know you need to move
  • the data you know you do not need to move
  • the data you are not sure about today

In the overlap data migration plan, you would not migrate that last chunk of data initially, and only bring it in later if and when it becomes clear you need it.

5. Compare Your Future Online Storage Costs

Why is all this data cleansing and segmentation so important? One reason is the significant cost-savings involved. Dynamics 365 Sales is already a clear winner on price with a comparable Salesforce license. But what many companies do not know is that they will save a lot of money in storage costs by going to Dynamics 365 if they keep their data small.

The good news? If you already have a small and clean data set, then this is no big deal. In that case, do not worry about the data cleansing and staged, overlapping migration strategy.

But if you have a lot of data, compare the monthly overage costs today between Salesforce and Dynamics 365. For every gigabyte (GB) of data over your plan’s limit, Microsoft will charge you $40 a month. That same gig of data with Salesforce, however, will cost your team $250 a month. And, of course, the baseline cost of your monthly storage plan will be determined by how much historical data you decide to bring over in the first place. Keep it lean and useful and you should see some significant cost advantages with Dynamics 365 Sales.

Your CRM Partner Relationship

The last critical consideration in this Salesforce to Dynamics 365 migration scenario that I will mention is what it means to work with a Microsoft partner in this process. If you have been using Salesforce, then you almost certainly bought the software from Salesforce … and were then immediately handed off to some random partner (unless you are an enterprise customer).

Since Microsoft is, first and foremost, a software company, they have a different model. They stay focused on building the best software possible and refining it with their enormous research and development budget. That is why Dynamics 365 Sales customers almost always deal with a Microsoft partner first. Essentially, you are assessing and buying a partner as much as the software itself.

Microsoft gold partners like Cobalt work directly on your behalf with Microsoft, as needed. We are legally obligated to be your first line of customer support. With Salesforce you get a driven sales experience on the front end. With us you get a conversation with a partner who is automatically considering you as a longer-term relationship. In general, that just helps prioritize healthy working relationships right from the beginning.

Connect with Our CRM Migration Experts

Are you still weighing the value of Dynamics 365 Sales for your team? We’ve seen how it makes an immediate, direct impact for sales teams and it’s what we use everyday. We’d love to show you exactly how it makes a difference for our business development reps, account executives, and sales director. You’ll be able to put our experience to work for your team right away.

Let us know you’d like to have a quick introductory call and schedule a product showcase with us. We’ll highlight the benefits for your team and tell you more about what our customers expect from Cobalt as a trusted partner with license optimization, implementation, training for your staff, ongoing support, and more.

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