Integrating Dynamics 365 CRM with Dynamics Business Central

When considering how to integrate Dynamics 365 CRM / Sales with Dynamics 365 Business Central there are a few things that need to be considered as there are different approaches to be taken.

Integration from Dynamics 365 Customer Engagement (CRM)

First let’s call out the Elephant in the room.

While Dynamics 365 Business Central does integrate with Dynamics 365 for Sales / Customer Engagement (CRM) out of the box; we would not say that Dynamics 365 CRM integrates to Business Central out of the box.

Let me explain…

You can start with Business Central and you can extend that data to Dynamics 365 for Sales / CRM with the inbuilt functionality of Business Central. This works and does what it does well.

However, when working with Dynamics CRM partners it is clear the integration required is from Dynamics CRM (often customised) into Business Central. Unfortunately, the inbuilt integration tools are not built to work that way.

What to do with the integration approach

So, what’s a CRM partner to do? Their customer has – rightly – bought into the whole Dynamics 365 philosophy and – dagnamit – they want Finance seamlessly integrated to their rich set of Dynamics CRM data.

Well, the good news is there are two ways to achieve this and we can advise which is the best for you and your customer.

One involves a more Business Central centric solution, the other is a 3rd party integration solution (like Scribe or Microsoft Flow).

Option 1 – Virtual Tables

This gives great control and flexibility to the architecture as well as bringing a richer set of tools to the solution.

In this option, we create some tables in Business Central that link to the live data held in your CRM online system (no duplication or ‘sync-ing’ required. We read and update this data from Business Central as needed to create a working join. We tend not to update the CRM data directly and only update integration points.

Some data is needed to be held in Business Central and we will pull this in from Dynamics 365 (for example Accounts, Contacts, Order, Item, etc.) and sync the relevant records in Business Central at regular intervals.

Any Entity you create or modify can be linked to, read and used to update Business Central accordingly.

If you want Business Central to update Dynamics 365 CRM then we can do that too. For example, when an order is invoiced or paid, etc. we can update Dynamics 365 so the users of that system know what has been done with their order.

Because we can work with the table data as if it resided in Dynamics 365 Business Central, we can add any kind of logic to working with that data. Making the integrations very flexible, reliable and contained between Business Central and Dynamics 365 for Sales / Customer Engagement.

These changes are all built in Business Central ‘Extensions’, so we can load them on any deployment type (On Premise, Hosted or Cloud). They are tailored to the partner’s & the customers’ requirements, so we can make this an exceptionally tight solution.

Option 2 – 3rd party interfaces

Rather than trying to read data directly from Dynamics 365 Customer Engagement / CRM, this approach uses the inbuilt APIs in Business Central or (tailored) Web Services (OData) to make the two systems talk to each other effectively.

It keeps the integration point ‘in the middle’ so it can be owned by the customer and partner easily, and the integration is typically very ‘visible’ to all parties. Here all data that is needed to be seen in Business Central will need to be synced between the two systems.

Tools like Scribe or Microsoft Flow can be used to take data from Dynamics CRM and update Business Central via their data feeds. Such solutions have logic built in and can create a very flexible integration solution.

This is a tried and tested (if potentially ‘old school’) approach and may well be preferred by CRM partners and customers as the control is more in the 3rd party tool and not Business Central. That way the existing partner can own a larger part of the solution and rely on us to focus on and deliver the Business Central “Finance” element.

While the Finance part of the integration is typically the starting point, it often extends into other business areas (like inventory control, assembly or manufacturing) that are not met in the Dynamics 365 CRM solution.

Are you looking to integrate these two powerful solutions?

If you are considering how best to integrate your wonderful new or existing Dynamics 365 CRM solution into Business Central, please give us a call on 03300 882 515 and we would be happy to discuss the options available to you.

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