What Happens To CRM Data When A Business Is Acquired Or Divested?

Microsoft Dynamics 365 / CRM

In a world of businesses acquisitions and mergers, CRM is an important consideration as part of the process to complete these transactions.

In recent years, Preact has been involved in a series of Microsoft Dynamics 365 / CRM projects where the ownership of data is changing.

In some instances, an organisation has sold part of its business and must divest itself of these holdings including its CRM data.

The divested business may have its own Dynamics system in which case the work will likely involve moving this data to the cloud, or to a new on-premises server. In other examples, the data associated with the divested business needs to be hived off from an organisation's main CRM system.

In these situations, we often find that the Dynamics system tends to be an older on-premise edition, for example Dynamics CRM 2011, 2013 or 2016. As a result, the immediate work will also include a database upgrade, or re-creating the legacy system on a new platform before data is imported rather than transitioning customisations from an existing site.

Preact has experience in undertaking this type work where customers must divest themselves of CRM data - or an entire database - and we also work with companies that have recently acquired a business and now need to assimilate this data with its Dynamics 365 system.

When a business is acquired, or needs to be divested, the timescales involved are often aggressive. As a result, there will be an urgent need to define precisely what data is needed and what budget needs to be allocated to implement these actions. This will be determined during a scoping consultancy.

Each situation is different but from the projects that we have worked on we’ve highlighted some considerations:

Customisations – as we’ve highlighted, the current edition of Dynamics may be an older or unsupported version. Due to limitations with older technology, custom coding and plug-in’s would frequently be applied to fill gaps in native capabilities. Each customisation will need to be identified to understand how this functionality can be replicated in Dynamics 365 using newer inbuilt functions and processes that have since been added to the product.

Integrations – if the legacy Dynamics CRM system was integrated with external data sources what will happen to these? As an implementation partner, Preact will assist in recreating integrations or implementing new implementations for ERP / accounting, document libraries, marketing automation and other services. Due to time constraints, and to minimise risk, in some instances it may be recommended to clone these systems and implement them in a sandbox environment and at an agreed cut-off time these will enter production on the new platform.

Data Cleansing – for instances where data specific to the divested business must be hived off from Dynamics CRM / 365 these records must be identified and ring-fenced. During the scoping process it will need to be defined precisely what data should be transferred and if any data should be deleted. For example, will a time limit be set for the emails and activities that will be included? Before any of this work is undertaken, data cleansing and de-duplication should be carried out to ensure that good quality data is carried across.

Data Management – if this data will be managed and shared by a new user group, each record will need to be assigned accordingly. As part of a scoping process this will need to be defined to control what individuals have access permissions and what actions can be taken. Where data is divested, the terms of the transaction may preclude that business from retaining any copy, or subsequently using this data in its marketing activities. Once this is defined, we ensure that matching data is deleted, deactivated or suppressed as appropriate. Where data is to be retained by the divesting business, controls will be applied to make sure this will only be accessible to authorised users. 

Data Mapping - if data is to be moved to an existing Dynamics 365 platform, or to fresh instance of Dynamics 365, another crucial step will be to define how each entity and field will be mapped.

Non-Production Sites – in instances where a sandbox or non-production environment is in place what provisions will be made for the divesting party to dispose of this? When data is to be deleted by a divesting business this may be subject to a subsequent audit so prior identification of non-production sites, back-up's and other copies of the data must be identified. 

This post is not meant to be a template for managing what can often be complex process but it does hopefully demonstrate some of the factors and considerations when the ownership of CRM data will to pass from one organisation to another following a business acquisition.

Please get in touch if you are working on a project to migrate data from a divested business, or you are planning to import Dynamics 365 / CRM data from an acquired business.

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