As written in our previous post, Integrity Data is in middle of a transition from Dynamics GP to Business Central in the cloud. The “cloud” provides several advantages over traditional on-premise applications. These are the same advantages our customers are leveraging to improve their business operations.
We see the cloud as the future for both our customers and our internal systems. We’ve found that customers are demanding a low cost of entry solution with robust functionality. This fact recently forced us to reconsider how we sell our products. As a result, we transitioned to a monthly subscription model, quite a change from a traditional license plus enhancement plan model. With this change, we needed to be able to handle 12 low-cost monthly transactions that vary in price, rather than an initial high-dollar invoice with a fixed cost annual enhancement renewal.
In order to meet these demands, we saw the Microsoft platform as ideal for meeting these needs. As part of our move to the cloud, we moved our subscription billing solution to a specialty billing solution geared for SaaS organizations that have frequent changes to pricing, quantity, amounts and structure. This solution was selected because of its available functionality and foundational platform supporting some key integration technologies like webhooks and a complete API. We needed to ensure this system could push data (real-time) to our financial management system and allow for SaaS revenue reporting (this is different than traditional financial reporting on an income statement or balance sheet).
In recent years, Microsoft has been investing heavily in cloud computing functionality by ensuring their applications are built with a cloud-first approach. We have seen this in everything from Office applications to Windows 10. Just like you can use a desktop or browser-based application for Word, Excel, etc., Microsoft has developed new cloud-based applications that meet the demands of today's business user.
The primary tools that we intend to utilize from the Microsoft platform are:
Microsoft Power Platform (information reporting, systems integration, and app development)
Microsoft Azure (product functionality and internal systems hosting)
As part of our cloud migration, we are currently in the process of migrating from an on-premise deployment of Microsoft CRM to Dynamics 365 CE. This move will allow our primary source of customer information to communicate with our financial management and subscription billing solution using tools native to those environments. Additionally, it will make integration into our product platforms easier and more robust.
With these cloud-based systems, we will be able to improve our ability to connect:
Customer data in Dynamics 365 CE
Financial data in Dynamics 365 BC
Product data from Azure SQL
All will be connected using a low/no-code solution called Microsoft Power Automate. As an example, our subscription billing solution will be pushing real-time invoices to Business Central. Also, our products will be able to push updated information from Azure SQL to our subscription billing solution. Power Automate is designed to be an end-user tool which does not require a developer-level skillset. Our internal IS team will be trained to support this tool.
Once these systems are “talking,” we plan to build powerful reports using information from all the systems to make business decisions based on data using Microsoft Power BI. We are looking forward to understanding the current value of our product subscriptions alongside our traditional financial reports. Power BI can deliver rich reporting and graphic visualization to see your data more clearly.
Microsoft Power Apps will allow us to quickly build small, low code solutions to fill gaps between people, systems, and processes. Power Apps, like Power Automate, do not require a developer-level skillset. Rather, small apps can be quickly designed, developed, and deployed without specialized skills and/or licensing.
This change will impact every area of our Finance team and organization more generally. We will be paying bills out of Business Central, updating customer information in D365 CE, and billing from our subscription management solution. Ultimately, these changes will enable Integrity Data to scale and service our customers and partners in new ways, meeting the demands of the times.
Fortunately, there is a great network of partners available to help. Our first step in migrating from Dynamics GP to Business Central was to identify a key partner with deep experience in this transition. With Integrity Data’s 20+ years of experience in the Dynamics GP channel, we had lots of great partners from which to pick. That selection proved to be key to a successful migration. As you think about your migration to the cloud, make sure to partner with a company with experience in these migrations.
More to come as we continue to share our experience in moving from Dynamics GP to Business Central. This information is shared with the hopes that you will benefit from our experience in ways that will ease your own migration to the cloud. Stay tuned for Part 3 of our migration journey: The Implementation.
Written by Tom Franz, Director of Finance & Information Systems - Integrity Data
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