Configuration data is used to define custom functionality in model-driven apps in Dynamics 365, such as Dynamics 365 Sales and Customer Service, and is typically stored in custom entities. Configuration data is different from end user data (account, contacts, and so on).
Configuration data is a type of meta data. Meta data can be thought of as data about data. The values within an Option Set are an example of meta data that will migrate with the movement of solution files. Entities containing data about data, such as a custom entity containing values for a standardized lookup field or Owner Teams, are another type of meta data. There are 2 methods to migrate configuration data: manually by hand or with a migration tool.
If you choose to do it manually, the Dynamics 365 Import Wizard is a good tool that allows for bulk addition of information. You need to clear GUIDs from the source before importing in target and records will be different between environments. If you want more information about manual migrations, check this Microsoft guide on how to manually import accounts, leads, and more. However, just be warned that doing it manually could take a lot of effort and there is a greater potential for error or missing information.
If you opt to go with a migration tool, there are several options available to choose from. One tool that gets often overlook is Microsoft’s configuration migration tool. Microsoft actually provides a free tool, Dynamics 365 CRM Configuration Migration tool, CRM developers can take advantage of. This tool allows you to move configuration data without the use of custom code. For more information about this tool and how to use it, check out this article about moving configuration data with the Configuration Migration tool.
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Another option are Shuttle Builder and Shuttle Runner tools. They are based in CRMToolBox and free to use as well. From my experience, these tools are a little more user-friendly than Microsoft’s Configuration Migration tool. Similar to the Configuration Migration tool, Shuffle Builder is a no-code tool too. Sara Lagerquist posted a well written tutorial of how both of these tools work if you are interested in learning more about them.
Besides these 2 free choices, you can also use ETL tools. Companies like TIBCO Scribe and KingswaySoft offer ETL tools, TIBCO Cloud and SSIS Integration Toolkit respectably, people can purchase. For these ETL tools, CRM developers will need to build out entire integration maps and will need to know more ETL or technical knowledge.
With all the different options I talked about today, you may be asking how do you know which is your best option. The short answer is whatever works best for you! If you only have a small amount of configuration data that needs to be migrated, you might be able to do it manually with the Import Wizard. If you want a tool that you can use for other data integrations as well, ETL tools allow for scheduling of configuration data and might be your best choice. However, Microsoft’s Configuration Migration and the Shuffle tools are probably the most versatile and can cover the majority of your use cases.
Whichever tool you decide to go with, I’d like to leave you with 1 last advice. Don’t forget the #1 rule in any migration, always back up your environment before importing your data! As always, if you have any additional questions about any of these tools or on migration on configuration data, feel free to contact KTL Solutions and we would be happy to set up a call with you.