Maintaining Clean Data in Microsoft Dynamics 365

Maintaining Clean Data in Dynamics 365

This book covers importing data into Dynamics 365, but what about tools to help you manage data already in the system? It’s likely that at some point or another you’ll encounter duplicate records or bad data. Luckily, Dynamics 365 has tools to help in keeping data clean. Jump to the following sections to learn more about these tools:

Duplicate Detection Wizard

At one point or another, it is very likely that you’ll encounter duplicate records in your system. The duplicate detection wizard is designed to find these duplicates so you can decide what records to keep, merge or delete. The duplicate detection wizard does NOT delete, merge, or activate any duplicates it finds in the system. It only asks you if you want to Save the record that is potentially a duplicate.  You can abort the save and find the duplicate record.

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You can use the duplicate detection wizard to schedule duplicate detection jobs at a point in the future, or run it immediately.

Duplicate detection best practices

Although you can set up rules to reduce the occurrence of importing duplicate records, this doesn’t mean that duplicate records can’t be added to the system. You will need to determine an appropriate schedule for detecting duplicates and manually reviewing them and removing them from the system.

For more information on how to avoid importing duplicate records to begin with, refer to the section on best practices for importing data.

Updating duplicate detection settings

To enable or disable your duplicate detection settings, navigate to Settings. Under System, click Data Management, then click Duplicate Detection Settings. You can elect to enable or disable duplicate detection:

  • When a record is created or updated
  • When Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Outlook goes from offline to online
  • During data import

maintaining clean data
View Duplicate Detection Settings in CRM 2011

Creating duplicate detection rules

One of the things you’ll need to do before you can run a duplicate detection job is define the conditions for a record to be considered a duplicate. For example, you may set a rule that says if two lead records have the same email address, they are duplicate records. Rules will vary from organization to organization. To set the conditions for duplicate detection, you must first set up duplicate detection rules. Here’s how:

  1. Under Settings, click Data Management, and click Duplicate Detection Rules.

View Duplicate Detection Rules in CRM 2011

2. At the top of your Duplicate Detection Rules view, click New.

View Create a New Duplicate Detection Rule in CRM 2011

3. Enter the details of the duplicate detection rule that you’d like to create. This includes:

  1. Providing name and description for the rule
  2. Choosing the type of entity the rule will apply to from the Base Record Type picklist
  3. Choosing the type of entity that you’ll be comparing the base record type against from the Matching Record Type picklist
  4. Choosing whether or not your rule will be case sensitive
  5. Choosing the criteria for detecting a matching record.

Duplicate Detection Rule DetailsView Duplicate Detection Rule Details in CRM 2011

Merging Duplicates

There are two options when merging duplicates.  You can either manually merge two duplicate records, or PowerObjects on-premise customers can use PowerObjects add-on PowerMerge to clean up duplicates in bulk. When duplicates are detected, Microsoft Dynamics 365 allows you to merge two records, combining all of the related records, notes, and activities.  The duplicate record is deactivated and remains in the system.

To merge duplicates:

  1. Select two duplicates in a grid view

Merging Duplicates
View Merging Duplicates in CRM 2011

2. Click Merge on the toolbar.  CRM presents you with a list of fields from both records.

3. Select the master record—the one you would like to remain active.

4. Select individual fields or sections that should remain on the active record.

Master Record and Field Selection

View Master Record and Field Selection in CRM 2011

5. Click OK to complete the merge.

Tip! PowerObjects has developed a handy add-on for Dynamics 365 called PowerMerge. This tool not only detects duplicate records in Dynamics 365, but also automates merging of duplicate records to save you time.

Bulk Delete Wizard

The bulk delete wizard allows you to quickly define criteria for finding records and deleting them in bulk. To use the bulk delete wizard, follow these steps:

  1. First navigate to Settings.
  2. Under System, click Data Management.
  3. In the reading pane, choose Bulk Record Deletion.

View Bulk Record Deletion in CRM 2011

4. In the Bulk Record Deletion view, click New. This will pop open the wizard.


5. Define your search criteria, like you would in an Advanced Find.


6. After you’ve entered your search criteria, click Preview Records. Confirm that these are the records you actually want to delete.

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7. Schedule a time for your deletion job and indicate whether you want it to be a recurring job.

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8. Press Submit to finish the bulk deletion wizard.

Working With Data

If you want a more formal introduction to working with and keeping data clean in Dynamics 365, check out Reporting for Dynamics 365 and Power BI for Dynamics 365.  These courses prepare you to do more with data than ever before!