Today’s enterprise resource planning (ERP) solutions, such as Microsoft Dynamics GP, are complex and can be made up of many applications created, and provided, by a vast array of vendors. The challenge end-user companies face today is data consolidation from various systems into a single reporting system in order to track their business more accurately.
A simple example of this configuration might be an end-user company using Dynamics GP as their
Keeping the data in the three systems up to date and consistent requires a considerable amount of time if the end-user company has to perform the updates through manual entry. This process is not recommended for several reasons, the primary reasons being user entry errors and latency. No matter how competent the data entry staff is, mistakes are always made, which seem minor but can have major ramifications. An example might be a transposition error entering item available quantities. The available quantity is 15 and the data entry person enters 51. The POS system now indicates that there are more items available than there actually are, which can lead to lost time trying to find the items after a sale, as well as a customer waiting for items that do not exist. Latency issues effect most external applications. It may take the end-user company a day to enter the prior days’ time entry information so the reporting on this is always at least a day old, which may lead to stale data.
Most of today’s applications provide some type of data export through a physical file or through the use of an Application Programming Interface (API). This definitely helps out the end user by reducing the amount of data that has be updated to a single set or list. The issue with these exports is that most applications are not designed to bring that data in by default. Those systems that provide an import of the data, such as Dynamics GP importing GL transactions, are not flexible and mandate that the end-user company coerce the exported data into a particular format and content. The external system might have customer information but that customer information does not match what is in Dynamics GP so the sales to this customer cannot be brought into Dynamics GP and tracked.
What most companies resort to doing is
The solution to optimizing this data interchange is through the use of integrations. Whether it is an out-of-the-box integration, such as a
There are some simple questions that an end-user company can answer about their data integration process to determine if they would benefit from an automated integration.
- Are you spending more than a few hours a week updating this data?
- Do you have data integrity issues?
- Are you bringing in the detail that you need to track?
- Is the data stale?
Integration approaches are diverse and the choice of an approach is usually customer specific depending on the systems that need to integrate and what data needs to be transferred. A sample of the different approaches to a solution are:
- Dynamics GP Add-in application to import/export a physical data file (user interface).
- Dynamics GP Add-in application to import/export data from a SQL server data source (user interface).
- SQL Stored procedure to integrate data on a scheduled basis (no user interface).
- Windows Service to monitor data folders, FTP Sites, or an applications API for information (no user interface). This service can also be used to transmit data out to an external system.
Learn more about integrations for Dynamics GP by
by Dan Roach, The Resource Group