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Connector for Microsoft Dynamics ERP and CRM integration available now

I’m very pleased to see that the standard out of the box Connector for Microsoft Dynamics ERP and Microsoft Dynamics CRM is available. The connector integrates Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0 or 2011 with Microsoft Dynamics AX , Microsoft Dynamics GP and Microsoft Dynamics NAV. The connector provides out of the box bi-directional integration between the ERP entities and the CRM entities such as customers, invoices, sales orders and items. For example, the screen shot below shows the integration between Microsoft Dynamics GP and Microsoft Dynamics CRM entities.

Connector for Microsoft Dynamics integrates MS Dynamics CRM and ERP

Figure 1. Connector for Microsoft Dynamics integrates MS Dynamics CRM and ERP.

I reviewed the architecture of the connector as well as the functionality provided and I was impressed with what I saw. I liked what I found. The Connector for Microsoft Dynamics is an elegant and simple data integration tool that will automate the integration between the CRM and ERP. The Connector for Microsoft Dynamics works with both Microsoft Dynamics CRM on-premise and online. The nice part is that the integration is a web service to web service integration – which means your ERP and CRM can be located anywhere and will be able to talk with each other. Moreover, the Connector for Microsoft Dynamics is Free as long as you are current on your Microsoft Dynamics ERP Business Ready Enhancement Plan and have a Microsoft Dynamics CRM software assurance plan.

I liked what I saw. The integration architecture is very similar to the one we’ve built for Ignify ecommerce to integrate with Microsoft Dynamics ERP. The integration is comprised of an NT Service which binds together web services for both Microsoft Dynamics CRM and Microsoft Dynamics ERP to read and write data. The integration service also leverages a transform engine to convert the data between the interfaces to ensure that the data moving between the two systems is compatible and in correct form. The connector uses the standard Dynamics ERP and CRM APIs to do the integrations. For example with Microsoft Dynamics AX the connector uses the Application Integration Framework (AIF) web services for the Dynamics AX source adaptor.

The integrations are uni-directional or bi-directional depending on whether or not a single application should be a system of record. As an illustration, I’ll go into the details of the integration between Microsoft Dynamics CRM and Microsoft Dynamics AX. The customer record in Microsoft Dynamics AX integrates in a bidirectional manner with the account record in Microsoft Dynamics CRM. Therefore any changes made on either system will move over to the other system. Similarly Contacts, and Sales Orders are bi-directional. However, Microsoft Dynamics AX is the system of record for financial transactions and the financial setup. So the Sales Invoice, Currency, Exchange rates and Items are uni-directional from Microsoft Dynamics AX to Microsoft Dynamics CRM.

Integration of Microsoft Dynamics AX ERP and Microsoft Dynamics CRM entities with the Connector for Microsoft Dynamics.

Figure 2. Integration of Microsoft Dynamics AX ERP and Microsoft Dynamics CRM entities with the Connector for Microsoft Dynamics.

You do not need to, however, use all of the integrations above. These are the list of the standard integrations that come out of the box. For example, you could choose to only do customers and contacts and not the rest. Some integrations are dependent on others. For example, to ensure the Sales Orders integration works you will need to have the CRM picklist integrated with the Microsoft Dynamics AX enumerated values (enum) for Shipping method. Here are some other examples of logical dependencies.

Customer (ERP) to Account (CRM)
Employee to ERP System User (For SALESPERSON/OWNER)
For a customer that has a parent customer dependency, Customer to Account might be dependent on the parent customer integrating first.

AX Contact to Contact
Employee to ERP System User (For SALESPERSON/OWNER)
Customer to Account

The connector provides two things

  • Source adaptors for the ERP/ CRM: The source adaptor is an intelligent adaptor and will only integrate changed (updated or deleted records).
  • Maps between the entities: The maps come pre-built for the records types /entities I listed above. However, you do not need to use the standard maps. You can either create a new map or take the existing template map and edit it to change the field mapping or to map to new fields. E.g. if you have custom fields in your customer master and want those to be mapped –you could add these fields to the template Customer-Account Map provided with the connector.

In addition, similar to Ignify eCommerce , you can configure a schedule as to how often you’d like the integration to run for each entity. You can do this by editing the map’s schedule. So for example the Orders may integrated every hours but items may only update once a day. The connector supports integration with both standard and custom entities in Microsoft Dynamics CRM.

I’m impressed with the connector and what it does. It provides a great way to integrate the out of the box entities as well as factor in any extensions or customizations you’ve done to the application. The fact that it is free is very helpful and makes for a seamless out of the box experience with customer facing systems and back-end systems. We are in the process of implementing this for Ignify to tie together our ERP and CRM systems. Email us at dynamics@ignify.com for any questions.

Sandeep Walia is the CEO of Ignify. Ignify is a technology provider of ERP, CRM, and eCommerce software solutions to businesses and public sector organizations. Ignify has been ranked as Microsoft Partner of the Year Finalist in 2010 and has been a Microsoft Dynamics Inner Circle Partner ranked in the top 18 Microsoft Dynamics partners. Ignify has been included as the fastest growing business in North America for 4 years in a row by Deloitte, Inc Magazine and Entrepreneur Magazine and ranked as one of 100 most innovative companies in the world in the Red Herring Global 100 in 2011. Sandeep was ranked in 2010 in the Microsoft Dynamics Top 100 Most Influential People List by DynamicsWorld.

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