Options When Integrating Data to Microsoft Dynamics GP

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Our clients often ask about the best data integration options with Dynamics GP.  While every client’s business requirements are different, there are still several best practices that our team considers when working with our clients.   First, we always make sure that we understand the business requirements for the integration. This includes setting short-term and long-term goals like:

  • One-time import of legacy data into GP
  • Periodic data exchange
  • On-going, real-time synchronization back and forth between systems

The Five Types of Data Integration

Here are some integration types that we implement (from the least to greatest investment):Integration tools table

1. End-User Initiated

In this type of integration, the end user typically originates/manipulates the data. Most often it is Excel-based where the user can copy/paste from Excel to Infinia or an Infinia-like solution (note that Infinia is a Microsoft Dynamics GP Specific Solution).  Clients typically use Integration Manger (IM) with Excel (creating on ODBC connection with GL Transactions, AP Invoices, etc.) or with SQL Server (through an ODBC connection).

Benefits Include:

  • Users get immediate feedback
  • Low budget
  • 100% success and satisfaction

2. File Drops

These are also called “batch imports.” In this scenario, a batch of data gets moved into Dynamics GP on a regular interval, but the file structure is always the same. This process happens in the background, such as a bank import. Crestwood, or your team, can simply create a macro inside of Dynamics GP (mimicking the data entry process in GP).  Clients generally use this option for automating repetitive tasks; however, they still require a user to initiate.

Benefits Include:

  • No data interpretation or manipulation is required or supported
  • Easy to run once set up

(NOTE:  Issues can arise because there are no error messages provided. Therefore, if a file does not drop, there is no notification for troubleshooting.)

3. Staged Integrations

Staged integrations are common scenarios. Manipulation or interpretation of the source data is necessary. For example, moving data from a legacy system to a new solution. Usually the data needs to be “massaged” to fit correctly in the new software. This type of integration always requires a staging area.  Generally, we use SmartConnect, Scribe, eConnect, or Integration Manager for this type of integration.

Benefits Include:

  • Better error tracking than file drops
  • User will see the data before it is loaded
  • The data can be manipulated more easily

4. Real-time Synchronization

Synchronization between systems occurs behind-the-scenes and is commonly referred to as “back office” integrations. These happen at a system or database level, and staging will always be used to prepare the data for integration into the destination system.   This can also be accomplished using third party tools such as, SmartConnect, Scribe, or eConnect.

Benefits Include:

  • Real-time data integration
  • No user involvement
  • This solution is often a “safer” data transfer from two applications

5. Enterprise Level

The most complex data integration scenarios involve setting up a way for applications to talk to each other. Through coding, we map inputs and outputs with messaging, reliability, and flexibility. For example, BizTalk and Web Services are used, which involves heavy behind-the-scenes automation and data manipulation.

Sometimes these are used for cloud integration scenarios (using Web Services also called APIs with the Dynamics GP Web Client) or to to replicate the cloud data locally.

Enterprise-level data integration

Benefits Include:

  • Data integration happens real-time and without user involvement
  • This solution is often a “safer” data transfer from two applications
  • Often the best solution for highly customized Dynamics GP solutions that require automated, real-time data exchange

The Keys to Successful Data Integration

Regardless of the complexity or type of your integration needs, these are some key factors for success of any data integration project:

  • Engage with a good partner and communicate a solid plan of the responsibilities of each
  • Get and share access to clean and “ready to move”
  • Make sure that you are moving clean data vs. questionable or invalid data
  • Follow a formal staging data prep procedure (where required)
  • Work with a partner who has experience
  • Test and conduct quality assurance audits throughout the integration

No two integration projects are ever the same, but by working with experts like Crestwood, you can be sure that you are getting the right tool for the job. You benefit from the 20+ years of experience integrating solutions large and small, across many different industries.

No matter what your business is, how complex your scenario may be, we can help. Talk to your Client Account Manager from Crestwood Associates to share your story and learn more.  Email us at sales@crestwood.com to speak with an integration expert.

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