Once you’ve made the choice to switch to Microsoft Dynamics GP, there’s one final hurdle to clear: developing a plan to migrate your existing data to the new system. To help navigate you through the options, here’s a guide to the merits of four common solutions: two from Microsoft, the two from Microsoft Certified third party software developers. Pay particular attention to Option #4 -- it is our favorite (and should be yours too).
Option 1: Microsoft Dynamics GP Integration Manager
Historically, Microsoft Dynamics GP Integration Manager – a Dynamics GP module that comes included with GP – has been the go-to option for Dynamics GP integrations. The module comes included with your GP purchase, however, the free license period only last for 9 months beyond the date of your GP installation. This temporary license is designed to give you enough time to execute an initial data migration to GP, but for ongoing GP integrations you’ll need to purchase a license.
Integration manager was created specifically for Dynamics integrations, so it’s quick to install and was designed to be easy to use for everyone in the office - from the IT department to the technophobe.
But the module does have some drawbacks. It’s import only, not bi-directional. It’s also not real time and must be run manually or on a fixed schedule. Although there are some data manipulation features, there are few options to transform data; you can only use the integration points provided. Some users find that the error logs and reports are not clear enough to help them troubleshoot problems. It can also be slow for larger integrations and expensive, at $10K, to use beyond the free license period.
Many companies find that their integration will require a more flexible solution.
Option 2: Microsoft eConnect
Microsoft eConnect is a .Net development toolset that provides a lot of the functionality that Integration Manager lacks. eConnect uses .Net development tools, SQL stored procedures and XML documents to build integrations to Dynamics GP APIs. It is immensely flexible, letting you build any type of integration from any source data to any point within GP.
The biggest benefit of using eConnect is that it contains the internal business logic and rules required to integrate data into Dynamics GP. Without eConnect, it becomes very difficult and time consuming to build web services compliant with Dynamics GP business logic rules. Unless you’re an expert in Dynamics GP table structure, even very experienced developers will benefit from using eConnect.
eConnect, of course, also has its drawbacks. The first of these is that it’s very technical to deploy. Developing custom solutions at this abstracted level requires an array of technical knowledge, including .Net development, Windows network and SQL database skills and expertise. Secondly, it’s fairly difficult to run and maintain. A custom developed eConnect solution does not have a standard user interface; only a programmer will be able to access the application once it is running. Troubleshooting can be difficult; eConnect does not have the prebuilt tools to validate data and resolve errors. Error logs and reporting are not as defined and errors will often not be easy to resolve.
For those with the skills to build their own solutions, eConnect makes Dynamics GP integration development a very feasible option. But even if you have a .Net development team on staff, it can be a big project; if you don’t, it will be expensive.
Fortunately, there are several good third party integration or ‘middleware’ products available that offer strong integration functionality and don't require coding.
In our experience, we’ve seen the greatest success implementing these two options for our
Option 3: Infinia Integrator
Infinia Integrator is a great option for lower volume integrations that can be run manually. Infinia is a software product that imports data from Microsoft Excel workbooks directly to Dynamics GP.
Integrator is easy to deploy and run. It has a very clean user interface, and prebuilt adaptors to import the data correctly into GP. The data is validated before it’s imported, and errors are easy to identify and resolve. With Infinia, the total setup cost is very reasonable.
Some of the downsides: you will have to use Infinia’s import templates, which means wrangling your data into their Excel format. You’ll need to do any reformatting or manipulation outside the application. Infinia must be run manually, it is not live and not bi-directional.
Nevertheless, for many less demanding integration applications, Infinia may be a very good option.
Option 4: Scribe Insight
For clients who need higher volume integrations that run automatically, Scribe Insight is a great option.
Scribe is powerful and flexible enough to build nearly any integration including the very high volume and complex. Scribe uses eConnect to import data into Dynamics GP with the correct business logic, but layers on a lot of functionality and features lacking in a bare eConnect solution, including a user interface, flexibility to manipulate data, integration with a variety of data sources, strong error reporting and resolution tools.
Because Scribe requires some knowledge and expertise to build the initial integration, most customers opt to have a consultant deploy the software and build the integrations for them. However, customers with strong database skills can usually quickly learn Scribe and map their own integrations. We offer these types of customers a 1 or 2 day training session to help them get started using it.
Once the integrations are built, Scribe requires very little maintenance and runs automatically. Even team members with minimal technical expertise will be able to manage errors, resolve issues and keep the application running smoothly. Scribe pricing is very reasonable, and a great value for the strength and flexibility of the solution.
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John Fischer, Crestwood Associates LLC –