The out-of-the-box Dynamics CRM data import feature provides some great functionality, such the ability to create records, update existing records, and create attributes for an entity on the fly.


For many of us, getting clean data in CRM upon import is very important for user adoption. Many users’ accounts and contacts come from either another CRM system or an accounting program, and many of these systems have duplicate data. This can happen for a variety of reasons. Maybe the old system won’t let users associate multiple accounts together. Maybe additional fields may have been used to make the record unique. Or perhaps they simply just have bad data. With these scenarios, it can become very difficult to associate a related entity record to another entity.

Today we’ll show you an example where we’ll focus on creating contacts and populating the parent customer field. Since we have multiple accounts with the same name, we’ll use the Account Number field as the unique value. When we import the accounts, the Account Number field is populated in the account entity.

When importing the contacts, you’ll go through your mapping process of your source data to the contact values in CRM. When you are ready to associate the contact to the parent account, you will select the Parent Account field in CRM and select the Account Number field in your source file. By default, this will try to look up the account by the account name.

Dynamics CRM data import - mapping fields

If we have multiple account records in CRM with the same name, the import will fail since it does not know which account record to associate to the contact. In this case, we can use a different value to look these records up in CRM. Since I have the account number available to me in the account and contact spreadsheets, I can use this unique value to look the account. Here’s how:

1. Select the look up icon next to the Account Name.

2. Uncheck the Account Name field. We do not want to look up the parent account by this value.

Dynamics CRM data import - choose field

3. Now check off the Account Number field. This field will be used to search for the Parent Account record instead of the Account Name.

By using a unique value during the import, you are less likely to run into duplicate reference errors during this process.

Happy CRM’ing!

Avatar for Joe D365

Joe D365

Joe D365 is a Microsoft Dynamics 365 superhero who runs on pure Dynamics adrenaline. As the face of PowerObjects, Joe D365’s mission is to reveal innovative ways to use Dynamics 365 and bring the application to more businesses and organizations around the world.