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New Year, New Resolution to Shed ERP Customizations to Integrate EDI Transactions into Microsoft Dynamics

As we usher in a New Year, if you’re like me you’ve already started planning your personal and business goals for the year and how you’re going to tackle them. Like most people, I want to shed a few pounds and get healthier not only to be happier, but I also want to be able to run around with my child who is starting to take her first steps.

The New Year is also a great time to access your business health. If you take the time to review your business processes, specifically those around EDI integration with Dynamics, you’ll find that you can shed some unnecessary weight within your Dynamics ERP environment. This is especially the case if you’re operating a stand-alone EDI solution (like a Web-form) or avoiding the issue altogether.

Before stepping onto the scales, it’s important to understand the three most frequent approaches to integrating EDI with Dynamics:

1. Customization – the client / partner has decided to develop a one-off, non-commercial solution using a tool such as BizTalk or Gentran with custom ERP code;

2. Commercial solution within Dynamics – (i.e. built inside Dynamics by an Independent Software Vendor(ISV)) –solution is built with full integration inside Dynamics; and

3. ISV built outside Dynamics – solution is built outside of Dynamics but leverages the native functionality and integration framework of the Dynamics platform.

The first approach tends to pack on the pounds when you think about the challenges that come along with it: first understanding how to construct the solution to meet the challenges of an unpredictable environment; then how you’ll cope with future service packs or even upgrades of the ERP; who writes and manages the customization when trading partners change their requirements; and where is all the EDI information held that is passed back and forth, even if that information is not needed for internal requirements.

The second option - using a commercial ISV solution that is fully-built inside Dynamics - can also run into challenges that weigh you down: how do you and the ISV manage patches and version upgrades; how do they coexist with other solutions or customizations that are necessary to your business?

Neither option is a very healthy approach… By using a well architected solution that tightly integrates EDI without customization - you don’t have to worry about unpredictable costs in development and updating from one Dynamics version to another. But beware – many companies claim integration without customization but very few actually deliver.

There’s a long line of calorie conscience pros that come along with taking a different approach to how you integrate EDI. So making sure your ERP is healthy and lean, likewise your personal life, is a good idea worth evaluating, especially given the timeliness of setting new resolutions.

Must read article; talks about removing around 500 hrs. of customization to help streamline their Dynamics Installation - http://www.microsoft.com/casestudies/Case_Study_Detail.aspx?casestudyid=4000003832

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