Updating Records with Dynamics 365 Import

A common requirement is the ability to update records via an import within Dynamics 365. Fortunately, Microsoft has provided this functionality for quite some time. However, using this feature requires the data to be in a very specific format.

Step 01: Data Extraction

For step 01, it is vital the data is exported from the Dynamics 365 application using the Excel export features available. If any of your Views (System or Personal) include the column(s) of data needed for the update, you can navigate to this View and select the Export to Excel option. If your Views do not contain the column(s) of data needed for the update, the best option is using Advanced Find for this, as you can easily add the column(s) of data needed. Your other option is to create a System level View, but this may require some additional coordination for development and deployment.

Exporting Data from a View:


Exporting Data from Advanced Find:


Step 02: Data Update in Excel

Once your data is in Excel, you can update the data as needed. Keep in mind, you need to make sure data alignment exists for any option-sets, and/or look-up values in the system. Once you have the data updates needed, save this file. It should be noted, in this Excel file, columns A, B, and C should not be updated. These columns contain critical information needed for re-importing the data. Make sure this data does not become misaligned with the rest of the dataset in the Excel file. These columns are hidden by default.

Columns A, B, and C – Do not modify this data:


Step 03: Import of Data

Prior to import data, I would recommend securing a back-up of your Dynamics 365 instance, just in case the import has unexpected results. Within Dynamics 365, there are several ways to access the import process. I generally navigate to: Settings > Data Management > Imports, and select Import Data. Proceed through the wizard. When you get to the window: Review Settings and Import Data, it is critical the window displays the message below: This action will update existing records, and if required, create new records. If this message is not displayed, stop. If this message is not displayed, chances are high new records will be created, and the update will not occur. Continue through the rest of