Archiving Your Dynamics 365 Data
One common question asked during a CRM implementation is "what are best practices around data archival for historical data?" My immediate response is "You get the MOST value from your CRM data when it lives in Microsoft Dynamics." Historical data tells a story about your customers, so archiving too much data limits the effectiveness of Dynamics. I will concede that data loses value over time and will eventually cross a threshold where the old data can no longer justify the storage cost. My next question is "Do you want to simply delete the data or archive it?" Data deletion is easy and can be accomplished exclusively in Dynamics. The downside is that once it's deleted, it's gone forever. Archiving Your Dynamics 365 Data is a better approach, but you'll have to ask yourself questions like:
- What data do I target?
- How can I pull it?
- Where will I store it?
- How will I interact with it?
Here's some of my guidelines on how to target the data you want to archive. Once your data is removed from Dynamics, there's no easy way to bring it back in. Keep in mind that this is a business decision, so sync with your leadership team before implementing an archival solution.
Primary Core Records (Accounts, Contacts, Leads)
These types of records traditionally have minimal value once they've been deactivated. Your archival plan shouldn't touch these records for 2 years, just in case you need to reactivate one.
Related Core Records (Opportunities, Cases, Quotes, Orders, Invoices)
These records hold historical value once they are deactivated or closed. Your archival plan shouldn't touch these records for 5-7 years, so you can leverage this data to make future decisions.
Related Supporting Records (Activities, Notes and Attachments)
These records are closed shortly after their creation, but keep a historical log of interactions with your clients. Your archival plan shouldn't touch these records for 5-7 years, so you can look back at your communications and ensure you are properly nurturing your relationships.
These records are usually driven by a compliance regulation, which dictate how long you are required to keep your logs. These logs grow fast, so take some time to review what entities & fields you are auditing, and pare down as necessary.
There is no automated archival process in Dynamics 365, but you can get very creative on building your own solution. Here's a few things to consider.
How do I pull the data from Dynamics?
There's plenty of options to automate data transfer from Dynamics. Scribe Online has a nice data replication service, which copies all of your data down to a local SQL server database. You can also leverage Microsoft Azure to surgically target data with FetchXML queries.
Where do I store it?
I wouldn't recommend investing any money into a local SQL server, but it may be a solid choice if you have one available. If you want to stay in the cloud, then ask yourself "What's the cheapest storage out there?" My opinion is Microsoft SharePoint, which gives you a massive amount of cloud storage for nominal costs. You can't store a database in SharePoint, but you can store Excel documents. I recently built an archival solution for a client that leaned on Microsoft Azure Web Jobs to automate the data extract. This solution created an Excel sheet for every archival run, then stored them in SharePoint. Since the client knows how to use Excel, this solution gave them a user friendly way to access the data.
How do I interact with it?
I'm going to stress my earlier statement that CRM data has the most value when living in Microsoft Dynamics, so don't archive it if you still need that experience. Once you archive it, you can layer a visual reporting tool on top like Microsoft Power BI. Now's your chance to take a different look at this data, and build visuals that help you understand why it’s archived. Perhaps there's a common thread as to why your Accounts were lost, so let Power BI help you understand.
For more information on this topic, take a look at some of our other blogs:
Reach out to Beringer today!
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