When you customize entities in Microsoft Dynamics 365, you want to be extremely thorough in determining which fields you want an entity to have, so that when you import data, you import all of the necessary data, and don’t have to go back and make lots of changes later. Updating fields and forms in one clean sweep sounds tricky, but with the right approach, it can be quick and painless. Let’s go over one aspect of that approach that’s going to get you going on the right track.
Each entity includes a data import template that you can download. Not only can you download it, however, you can also edit it. The reason this is so useful is that the template for each entity includes a column for every single field within that entity as it comes out-of-the-box, which, essentially, provides you with a simple list of the fields the entity contains. What you can do with this is download the import template, review the fields it contains in comparison to the fields you need it to contain, and then edit the template, removing the fields you don’t need and adding the ones you do.
Remember, though, after editing the template, you need to actually go back into Dynamics 365 and customize the fields and forms for the entity to match the ones you outlined in the template. We have a bunch of easy-to-follow videos available for free in our Success Portal, including this one that will teach you how to do basic customizations, including customizing fields and forms; if you don’t have an account, get a free account just by setting xRM as your Partner of Record.
Let’s walk through the steps for downloading, reviewing, and updating the import template now.
First, log in to Dynamics 365 and click the down arrow to the right of the current app name, then choose the desired app. Within that app’s menu, click the name of the desired entity to open. Note: If you want to customize the entity name, check out this video and blog post for a simple how-to.
Within the desired entity, click the down arrow to the right of Import Data, and choose Download Template for Import from the dropdown list.
Click the file name to open it in Excel after it downloads (where the file appears will vary based on your browser; if you’re using Google Chrome, the file will be available to click in the bottom left corner of your browser window after it downloads).
Click Enable Editing along the top of the screen.
If you scroll to the right within the spreadsheet, you’ll see that there are quite a few columns. Each of these columns represents a field within the entity. You may find it useful, at this point, to open up a similar record within your old system, or be viewing your exported data in some way when customizing the template, to ensure you think of all necessary fields.
Go through the template, column by column, and determine if each field shown is relevant. As you go, make note of which fields should be removed from the template (and, thus, the entity), and which fields should be added.
Once you have created a comprehensive list, go through and use the list to make the necessary changes to the template, deleting and adding columns as needed.
Finally, when you’ve updated all desired fields, click File, choose Save As, and save the template to your computer.
Remember, before you import the data, you need to customize the fields and forms within the entity itself to match the fields you just determined the entity should contain. Use this template as you make these customizations to ensure you add and remove the desired fields.
After updating the entity’s fields and forms, check out this video for step-by-step instructions on how to upload the completed template back into Microsoft Dynamics 365.
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