In the past, firms have looked for the best of breed solutions or developed in-house applications in order to meet their customer relationship and operational needs. As these systems that were originally developed are now starting to become outdated and obsolete, IT Directors are looking for new solutions to more easily bring together all of their different databases.
The reason for this is that currently, each department has been working in silos within their specific applications so when it comes time for management meetings, no one has the same numbers or data since they were being entered into the system and being reported on specific to each particular application.
In order make this more workable, you need to start looking at Dynamics CRM as more of a development platform rather than just a place to store customer information. You have the possibility to build and adapt current modules within Dynamics CRM to meet your specific business rules and processes as well as more easily create relationships between these different entities. In contrast to home-grown applications, you will have the opportunity to take advantage of the enhancements and R&D investments by Microsoft so your system can continue to evolve with your organization’s needs.
What are the different integration tools that exist for Dynamics CRM?
The Microsoft connector for Dynamics CRM to Dynamics GP. This connector was created by Microsoft with the vision for those who are already on the Microsoft Dynamics GP platform to integrate key information such as account details and sales orders. This is a free application. The downfall is that it is limited in the number of integrations available, but Microsoft has been investing in the past versions to increase the possibilities of this connector.
ISV integration solutions. There are ISVs in the Dynamics community who have created their own mappings in order to facilitate the integration between their product and Dynamics CRM. Typically these pre-defined mappings are available to facilitate the flow of information between them and are generally configured to industry best practices so that this can help reduce the amount of time required to set up the integration. Another reason that you should consider these types of connectors is that they are usually built on Microsoft design best practices therefore when new versions are released, the mappings typically follow as well.
Integration software solutions. There are also products, such as Scribe Software which is an easy-to-use solution that gives you the opportunity to link just about any type of information to and from Dynamics CRM. This a great tool that allows you to be more autonomous in your integration without any heavy development, but the downside is that you need to personally manage all mappings that may have shifted during migrations or upgrades.
Web services. This option is typically used when you need to have a more complex integration between your different systems but it still gives you the ability to ensure the integrity of your data and reduces the need for double entries. The downfall to this is that you do need a development team to help you, but you are able to create your own business rules directly within the plug-in. The disadvantage to hardcoding the integration is that it becomes less flexible to customize later on. Something to keep in mind: Microsoft does have a library of pre-existing standard plug-ins that you may want to look into before developing your own.