EDI for Dynamics 365, Dynamics 365 For Operations, Dynamics 365 Business Central

Many companies that currently process EDI transactions using a legacy translator-- and are considering migrating  to a cloud-based ERP solution such as Dynamics 365 for Operations and Business Central-- face a decision. Should they keep their existing EDI solution, or move to a different EDI platform and vendor?

There are many good reasons to want to keep an existing EDI system, including cost and risk reduction associated with EDI system replacement. However, many organizations find that the cost and risk of keeping a legacy translator far exceeds the cost of a replacement.

Other companies move their ERP to the cloud for cost and a variety of business reasons 

This article is intended to provide the most common shortcomings of translators such as Sterling Gentran, Sterling Integrator, Trusted Link Enterprise, Biztalk and many others as they relate to integration with Dynamics 365 in the cloud. 

  1. Cannot support web services or API’s Depositphotos_4384439_l-2015
    Many translators have limited or no support for web services connections, which is best practice for integrating data to and from Dynamics 365. 
  2. Cannot resolve cross references and produce “transaction ready” data packages. 
    Dynamics 365 expects valid transactions with valid information, such as proper customer numbers, item numbers, units of measures, address locations and numerous data elements. Without invasive customizations in Dynamics, transactions will fail until “perfect”. 
  3. Cannot consume error messages 
    When integration errors occur, the API’s in Dynamics will generate error messages that are critical to the business user. Unless there is a means to consume and report these messages back to the user, troubleshooting is difficult if not impossible. 
  4. Translators are passive. 
    D365 customizations are required to export data files back to the translator – a concept that is often provisioned into legacy ERP solutions via customizations. Needless customizations are frowned upon in the Dynamics 365 ecosystem. 
  5. No Turnaround Data.  
    Data is often sent in EDI messages that must accompany the data that is transmitted back to the EDI trading partner. Unless customizations are created in D365 to store and export that EDI data back to the translator, valid documents are impossible to transmit to the partner. 
  6. No Business Rules. 
    Translators are not well suited for handling complex business rules such as mandating 17 Digit Bill of Lading Values on invoices linked to shipments via Motor Carrier. That logic in most systems is handled by the ERP system – again, requiring more customization. 
  7. No Business or Digital Transformation. 
    Companies that make the difficult decision to replace their ERP solution with a cloud-based Dynamics 365 ERP solution often does so to reduce operating costs, complexity and reliance on manual processes such as data entry to keep the ERP system moving forward. Most companies that try to implement EDI with their legacy translators are fortunate to achieve a comparable outcome, not improve business execution by connecting more of the ERP processes to the outside world such as banks, transportation companies, suppliers and many other parts of their “Value Chain."    
  8. EDI Still Resides in IT. 
    Most legacy translators are complex to manage and operate, and often fall under the responsibility of IT. Naturally, keeping the legacy translator does not improve business user access to critical data that would reduce the need for IT to be involved in day-to-day business/data discrepancies. 
  9. No Help with Non-EDI integrations.   
    Most translators are not well suited to non-EDI integrations and require a second integration platform to be employed. 

Today, the definition of EDI integration best practices has evolved and new solutions are simplifying and opening new opportunities for collaboration with partners in an accurate and cost effective manner. Carefully evaluating EDI options when embarking on the journey to Dynamics 365 can save money by accelerating the process and position companies to increase ROI on their investment in Dynamics.   

Read our executive brief, "Top 10 Mistakes to Avoid When Selecting an EDI Solution," to learn even more about what to look out for when preparing for an EDI implementation.

Get the "Top 10 Mistakes When   Selecting an EDI Solution" Brief

Dynamics AX, Dynamics 365 For Operations, Partner Resources, Dynamics NAV, Dynamics GP, Dynamics 365 Business Central, Directions North America

I just got back from the Red Rock Casino Resort & Spa in Las Vegas, where I attended Directions North America. The Directions North America conference, held May 5-9, 2019, is the premier Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central event driven by Partners – for Partners, and had over 900 attendees. logo

What originally started as a Dynamics NAV-focused conference 15 years ago has now become a unique event where Dynamics GP, NAV, and Business Central partners from across the US gather. The event offered over 150 sessions, focused on capturing the interest of various audiences. It featured technical workshops, new partner onboarding sessions, product roadmap overviews, and even business building discussions. While Directions is primarily attended by Microsoft partners from across the US, there is extensive representation globally as it’s become a truly an international event.

There were several key takeaways, including:

  1. Microsoft is doubling down on its commitment to the Dynamics 365 Business Central marketplace. In April 2019, Microsoft announced plans to update Dynamics 365 twice a year, which they reinforced at the Directions conference. The Microsoft team was represented and was the largest single partner attendee at the event,. Over 60 resources conducted meetings, support efforts, and planning sessions for the partners in attendance. 
  2. Partners are energized with the direction of Dynamics 365 Business Central. Microsoft announced 100 new improvements to its latest version of Dynamics 365 Business Central, based on direct feedback from both partners and customers. The next release in October 2019 will focus on driving reduced friction with ISV integration, improved UI focus, and enhanced migration tools. Microsoft is listening to what the channel needs and is building out a platform for success that the partners are excited about. 
  3. The partners are really seeing success with a focus on leveraging ISVs to fill gaps. Microsoft Dynamics NAV has historically been a solution that encouraged customization directly within the ERP. With the new architecture of Dynamics 365 Business Central and its focus on being a cloud-based solution, partners are leveraging ISV solutions to fill in functionality/capability gaps. The trend is to now move away from highly customized ERP deployments, and to instead take advantage of best of breed solutions that can complement the already extensive functionality available in the system.

All 3 of these trends are great news for Data Masons Software and its Vantage Point EDI solution.  The marketplace is ripe for customers who are now anxiously investing in Microsoft technology. The Dynamics partner community is seeing success and investing even more in driving solutions into the Business Central solution set. And with the need for a highly flexible and scalable solution that can offer world-class EDI capabilities built specifically for the Microsoft Dynamics community, Data Masons Software is well prepared for success.

If you're a Dynamics partner, please get in touch with us to learn how we make EDI simple for Microsoft Dynamics clients.

Set up a meeting with Bill Moffett

Dynamics NAV, Directions EMEA, Dynamics 365 Business Central

From 29-31st October 2018, the annual Directions EMEA event in The Hague, Netherlands attracted over 2,200 attendees. This partner-only event represented 60 countries in Europe, Latin America, and APAC, and focused on Microsoft Dynamics NAV and Business Central. This is nearly half the partner community across 30% of the countries where Microsoft NAV, and soon Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Center, is and will soon be generally available.directionsemea_snip

Over 100 Microsoft staff were present and contributed to 3 keynotes, and many of the 150 breakout sessions which focused on best practices, common data services, and deep dive development workshops. The keynote speakers were Marko Perisic, GM Dynamics SMB; Toby Bowers, WW Business Applications and Industry; and Cecilia Flombaun, WW Business Applications Partner Lead. Some keynote takeaways were:

  • Large community. Microsoft Navision has a 31 year heritage with 220,000 customers and 3.3M users in 196 countries supported by 4,5000 .
  • Better user experience. D365 Business Central has better select, copy, paste, and search options, and systematically embedding functionality into Office 365. For example, users can export records from D365 Business Central to Excel, add more records in Excel, and update D365 with the new or changed records.
  • Synchronize "on prem" to the cloud. Microsoft D365 Business Central will be available on premise, and data can be synchronized to the cloud for uses to take advantage of mobility support, AI, and other features.
  • Roadmap. Releases twice a year with the next one having 100+ features, including expanding to new countries, simplifying code ("C/Side to AL") migrations, and others.
  • Replacing customizations with extensions. To migrate to D365 Business Central, partners should help clients replace custom code with extensions that can be used with D365. This will allow clients to stay up to date with Microsoft Cumulative Updates, which are released monthly.

There were many sessions presented by partners and skilled consultants. A particularly interesting session discussed the lessons learned from migrating customers on older NAV versions to D365 Business Central. Some key findings were:

  • Eliminate C/Side code by 2020. Many partners customized NAV2009 with client specific requirements. The community of consultants and developers have taken the challenge to replace C/Side code the modern AL programming language.
  • Converting customizations to extensions is challenging. Moving customizations to AL has challenges, but is a worthwhile effort to reclaim IP previously provided to clients. There are Microsoft tools to help, but these are not entirely flawless, requiring additional effort to get it right.
  • Three-step migration from NAV2009. To get to D365 Business Central, clients need to migrate from NAV2009 to NAV2013, then to NAV2015, and then to D365 Business Central. Again, there are Microsoft tools to help with the migration, but the process needs to be well managed and monitored for possible rework.

Clients and Partners working on these migrations should be looking at replacing customized processes with "off the shelf" and proven ISV solutions that can eliminate complexity, cost, and delays to completion. The ERP migration is complex enough, and likely to have unpredictable challenges. 

To minimize unknowns, customers should seek ISV solutions that provide predictability, speed to implement, and agility. Data Masons Vantage Point EDI achieves these items for EDI and XML integration with many proof points across the food, retail, manufacturing, and automotive industries. To find out more, click the button below to contact our General Manager for EMEA, Larry Velez.

Contact Larry Velez, General Manager, EMEA

Dynamics AX, Dynamics 365, Dynamics GP, Microsoft Dynamics NAV 2018, AXUG, Dynamics 365 Business Central, Webinars, D365UG

We've had a few weeks of EDI for Dynamics educational and product webinars on the calendars! You can now watch the on-demand webinars to learn EDI best practices, ERP - specific information and Vantage Point EDI product demos. 

Watch the Dynamics GP Solution Showcase series from MSDynamicsWorld.com to discover new and innovative ISVs every month. Hear from thought leaders, watch demos, ask questions, and hear a discussion of the month's top headlines with these sponsors:

  • Data Masons (EDI)
  • Dynamic Budgets (Budgeting)
  • ImageTag (AP Automation)
  • MineralTree (AP Automation)

Watch the MSDW GP Partner Showcase here.

Watch the Dynamics 365/AX Solution Showcase series from MSDynamicsWorld.com to discover new and innovative ISVs every month. Hear from thought leaders, watch demos, ask questions, and hear a discussion of the month's top headlines with these sponsors: 

  • Data Masons (EDI)
  • eBridge Connections (EDI and E-commerce)
  • K-ecommerce (E-commerce)
  • Metafile (Paperless Automation)
  • PowerObjects (multiple AX/365 add-ons)

Watch the MSDW D365/AX Partner Showcase here.

EDI Integration Best Practices for Dynamics 365/AX - Microsoft Dynamics AX and Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations customers have options when it comes to selecting and deploying EDI or XML integration solutions. But the effort can be riddled with avoidable errors. Understand the right questions to ask to make sure you're heading down the right integration path for your company. Watch the On-Demand webinar for EMEA D365/AX here.

Build vs Buy – What’s your EDI strategy for D365 - Many organizations have built their own EDI solution by modifying their ERP system to import and export data from/to Translators and ETL solutions. If your company is now moving to Dynamics 365 for Operations or Business Central, it’s important to understand the pros and cons of leveraging tools such as Logic Apps and Boomi to tackle the unique challenges of integrated EDI with D365.

In this session you will learn the effort required to create EDI capabilities in D365 and how those embedded changes can pose obstacles to future platform updates. The session will include a presentation of a cloud based EDI platform that delivers broad and deep integration to D365 without embedded customizations. Watch the On-Demand "Build vs Buy" webinar here.

Watch the Dynamics NAV/365 Business Central Solution Showcase series from MSDynamicsWorld.com to discover new and innovative ISVs every month. Hear from thought leaders, watch demos, ask questions, and hear a discussion of the month's top headlines. Watch the On-Demand NAV Partner Showcase webinar here.

June 27, 2018 @11am ET:  
Join AXUG/D365UG and Data Masons as we share EDI Made Simple for D365/AX: Integration Without Customization. Dynamics 365/AX customers have options when it comes to EDI or XML integration solutions, but without the right preparation and expertise, the effort can be expensive and complicated.

Knowing the right questions to ask and best practices of successful implementations can help you decide on the right integration path for your company. Register for the EDI Made Simple for D365/AX webinar here.