By Beate Thomsen, Co-founder & Product Design - January 30, 2024
Are you contemplating a switch from Salesforce to Microsoft Dynamics 365 Sales or simply looking to integrate Dynamics 365 Business Central with Microsoft Dynamics 365 Sales?
Switching from Salesforce to Microsoft Dynamics 365 Sales or integrating Dynamics 365 Business Central with Microsoft Dynamics 365 Sales can be a significant decision for any business.
Often, Microsoft dealers, in their zeal to promote these systems, may not fully clarify that Dynamics Business Central and Dynamics Sales are distinct entities lacking inherent integration between these two systems.
In this article, we delve into some key aspects to consider when integrating Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central and Dynamics 365 Sales, aiming to provide you with some knowledge to make an informed decision on how to approach your data integration project.
Though part of the same Microsoft ecosystem, Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central and Dynamics 365 CRM Sales are distinct entities. Often, it's presumed that these systems seamlessly integrate by default when having purchased both Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central and Dynamics 365 CRM Sales, but in reality, they don't.
This lack of inherent integration means that when you purchase these systems, the responsibility to make them communicate effectively lies with you. But the good news is it can be done, and fortunately, you have a choice of different options to ensure proper data sharing and system interoperability. Let's go through those options that we consider as the most obvious when either already using Dynamics 365 Sales and Business Central or you wish to transition to those systems.
Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central is an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system - cloud-based or on-premise - that helps organizations streamline their operations, improve customer relations, and make better decisions with integrated intelligence.
In a nutshell, Business Central offers:
Microsoft Dynamics 365 Sales is a component of the broader Microsoft Dynamics 365 suite, primarily focusing on enhancing the sales process for businesses. Formerly known as Dynamics CRM it's a cloud-based Customer Relationship Management (CRM) solution designed to support sales teams in managing and analyzing customer interactions and data throughout the customer lifecycle.
Key features and capabilities of Dynamics 365 Sales include:
The integration of Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central and Dynamics 365 Sales offers a myriad of benefits for businesses looking to synchronize their operations and maximize their sales efforts.
Integrating Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central with Dynamics 365 Sales offers businesses a powerful platform for aligning their sales and financial operations, driving better customer engagement, and optimizing overall business performance.
The seamless flow of data, enhanced customer insights, and streamlined processes make this integration a compelling choice for businesses looking to elevate their sales and customer relationship management capabilities.
Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central is a versatile ERP solution that streamlines a variety of business operations. Its core functionality spans across finance, sales, service, and operations.
For sales teams, the integration with Dynamics 365 Sales enriches the customer management experience. This seamless integration means sales data and customer interactions are synchronized for a unified view.
Sales people benefit greatly from the real-time updates, ensuring that the information in Business Central reflects the latest in Dynamics 365 Sales. Operational efficiency is boosted as sales quotes and customer service information flow smoothly between systems. The integration will make it easier for sales and finance departments to collaborate effectively.
Now let's look at some viable options for integrating those two systems.
There are three primary ways to integrate Dynamics Business Central with Microsoft Dynamics 365 Sales:
1. Microsoft Integration via Dataverse (The Business Central/Dataverse Connector)
2. Custom Programming (In-house or Outsourced)
3. Third-party Integration Solutions (e.g., Rapidi)
Let's explore each method in terms of a) Flexibility & Customization, b) Maintenance costs, and c) Licence costs to understand which option might work best for your business needs.
Microsoft Integration via Dataverse is Microsoft's out-of-the-box connecter which is also known as the Business Central/Dataverse connector or "data sync". The Business Central/Dataverse connector is a tool that allows Dynamics 365 Business Central and Dynamics 365 Sales to share and update data. It is built into Dynamics 365 Business Central and the connector comes with a pre-defined list of objects like customers, contacts, vendors, and orders, and lets you synchronize these objects or tables between the two platforms.
The ability to connect Dynamics 365 Business Central and Dynamics 365 Sales through this out-of-the-box connector with a pre-defined integration table mapping setup can be beneficial for many companies in streamlining operations. However, understanding how to connect these two Microsoft applications effectively can be a complex task due to the various benefits and limitations involved.
The option provided by Microsoft is to integrate via Dataverse within the Microsoft ecosystem. The currently available integration from Microsoft (Business Central version 23.2) offers a specific list of predefined tables and fields that can be used for integration purposes.
However, the integration option via Dataverse offers this standardised approach to integration, which might not cater to specific, unique business needs as you only have a specific list of predefined tables and fields that can not be adapted or extended to further specific integration needs.
Furthermore, the setup needs to be adjusted by you by creating the connections with Dataverse and Microsoft Dynamics 365 Sales, updating the direction of the data flows (unidirectional or bidirectional), add any needed formulas (you have a limited list of possible formulas that you can use), enable match-based coupling if needed and identify the main primary keys for the tables in question. So, you need to have a certain understanding of the Microsoft Dynamics Applications and Dataverse in order to succeed with the setup.
These are relatively low if you adhere to the standard setup provided by the Microsoft out-of-box Business Central/Dataverse connector. However, if you want to go beyond the standard setup, you need to involve a developer. This will, of course, influence your investment costs.
Additional licensing costs are involved. It’s important to be aware that integrating Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central with Dynamics 365 Sales incurs with additional costs. Choosing the Microsoft integration tools requires you to purchase Microsoft Dataverse and Microsoft PowerPlatform.
Microsoft Dataverse, formerly known as the Common Data Service (CDS), is a cloud-based storage service that forms part of the Microsoft Power Platform. It provides a secure and scalable data storage solution that simplifies the structuring of data and integrates it with the Power Platform's suite of tools, like Power Apps, Power Automate, and Power BI, as well as with other Microsoft services like Dynamics 365 and Office 365.
The Power Platform is built on Microsoft Dataverse, which is an underlying data platform providing a data schema so that applications and services can interoperate. Via the PowerPlatform, Microsoft offers integration with other Microsoft products like Dynamics 365, Office 365, Azure, and various third-party apps and services.
The licensing costs are user-based, starting from 20 USD per month per user. Any user or device that inputs data into, queries, views data from or otherwise accesses Power Apps, Power Automate, Copilot Studio and Power Pages, directly or indirectly, must be properly licensed.
The Business Central Essentials Plan has a pricing of $70 per month per user, and the Premium plan is priced at $100 per month per user. Power BI and Power Apps can be as affordable as $10/month per user or $20/month per user, while the Dynamics 365 Sales Professional CRM for sales force automation is priced at $65/month per user.
Get a quote from your Microsoft Dealer to know exactly how much the end license costs.
To achieve complete flexibility, you have the option to develop your own integration or connector, either in-house if you have the necessary resources or by outsourcing the project to a partner. Alternatively, you can utilize a pre-existing connector like the Dataverse connector, but keep in mind that any custom setups beyond the standard configuration would require custom coding. Regardless, this will come with additional expenses.
Custom programming offers very high flexibility, allowing you to tailor the integration to your specific business requirements.
When it comes to integrating Dynamics 365 Sales and Dynamics 365 Business Central, organisations often find that they require additional solutions or custom development to achieve a tailored integration. This need arises from each organisation's unique business requirements and processes.
As mentioned above, Microsoft’s integration solutions come with a set of pre-defined tables, which allows you to get the basics with a standard integration setup. However, if your business relies for the majority on uniquely customised data fields and processes with Dynamics 365 Business Central or Dynamics 365 Sales, it will require you to do custom programming in order to get the integration to work and to achieve a more tailored integration that accommodates custom objects and fields.
There are expenses involved in the integration process, such as customization, data migration, and ongoing maintenance. These costs can be significant because custom solutions require initial development and ongoing maintenance, particularly if adjustments are necessary in the future.
There are definitely also licensing costs, and depending on the solution, there might be additional costs for the tools or platforms used in the development. When you opt for a custom-coded integration solution, whether developed in-house or outsourced, it's crucial to understand that the initial costs for the development are just the beginning. Custom solutions may require continuous development to add new features, adapt to changing business needs, or integrate additional systems. Maintenance and licensing costs can significantly contribute to the total cost of ownership over time.
These third-party solutions offer high flexibility and are often designed to meet specific business needs. For instance, Rapidi is a no-code platform that allows you to set up your integration through configuration without the need for direct programming and offers robust solutions that can be customized to address specific integration needs and complexities.
The maintenance costs for third-party solutions are typically lower compared with, for example, a custom-coded integration solution, as maintenance and support are included in the subscription, like with Rapidi. Choosing a low-code integration tool can minimise the need for technical expertise and reduce maintenance burdens. A third-party solution like Rapidi will only be the yearly subscription fee for the service, as maintenance and support are included. Furthermore, Rapidi provides dedicated customer support and maintenance services, ensuring reliability.
When utilizing a third-party integration solution like Rapidi, it's important to understand the various factors that contribute to the maintenance costs. These costs are not just about keeping the integration solution functional but also ensuring that it remains efficient, secure, and aligned with the evolving needs of your business.
Many third-party solutions, including Rapidi, operate on a subscription model. This fee typically covers the basic use of the software, access to customer support, and regular updates. The integration solution must be regularly updated to stay compatible with updates in the connected systems (like Business Central and Dynamics 365 Sales). These updates ensure that the solution benefits from the latest features, security patches, and performance improvements. Access to expert technical support is crucial for resolving any issues that arise promptly. This ensures minimal downtime and maintains the integrity of your data synchronization processes. The cost can vary depending on the level of support required.
However, all these factors can be offset by the reduced need for custom development and maintenance.
Feel free to ask Rapidi for a quote.
Choosing the right integration method depends on various factors, including your business's specific needs, the complexity of the processes you wish to integrate, your budget for initial setup and ongoing maintenance, and your in-house team's capability to manage and maintain the integration.
It's essential to weigh the pros and cons of each option carefully. The decision between the Business Central/Dataverse connector, custom coding and third-party solutions like Rapidi hinges on a nuanced understanding of a business's specific needs, in-house capabilities, and long-term strategic goals.
Each option presents a unique set of advantages, challenges, and considerations. It's crucial for businesses to conduct a thorough analysis, considering not only the immediate integration needs but also the long-term implications on maintenance, scalability, and adaptability to evolving business requirements. The goal is to choose a path that not only addresses current integration challenges but also aligns with the broader vision and growth trajectory of the organization.
In conclusion, integrating Dynamics Business Central with Microsoft Dynamics 365 Sales is a strategic decision that requires careful consideration of your business's unique needs and capabilities. By understanding the different integration options and their implications, you can make a choice that best supports your business goals and ensures a smooth and effective integration of these powerful systems.
When making your decision in choosing the right integration platform and integration technologies to suit your needs, consider factors like long-term maintenance, support availability, the expertise of your team (for custom coding), and the total cost of ownership.
Beate Thomsen, Co-founder & Product Design