Integration Methods in Business Central
Dynamics 365 Business Central is an all-in-one business management solution that is easy to use and adapt. While Business Central provides a single platform for companies to manage their finances, supply chain, sales, service, and operations, companies often times use third party applications to manage various functions of the business. For example, companies may use a separate expense recording system or payroll service. While these systems may fill relevant needs, having data exist across multiple systems makes it difficult to reconcile the information and obtain business process continuity. By integrating outside applications with Business Central, these systems can connect to form a seamless whole, syncing business processes and achieving a natural data flow. There are two main methods through which integration can occur with Business Central.
Integrating an external system with Business Central through web services is an easy and secure method of integration. A web service is a standardized way to make functionality and business data available to external systems over the internet. There are several types of standard web services and Business Central supports two of the most popular types, SOAP and OData.
All data pages and codeunits within Business Central can be published with a few clicks to make integrating with other systems easy. Additionally, custom web services can be created by your Microsoft partner to meet unique integration needs. Integrating to Business Central requires a dedicated account to be able to use the web services. Once a connection is made between the two systems the systems can use the established connection to push data from one system to the other.
Using web services to integrate applications to Business Central allows data to seamlessly flow from one system to another. The connection is always maintained, so when you make a data update in one application, it is immediately pushed to the other. For example, if an organization is using a separate expense recording system and they want those transactions to be recorded in the general ledger in Business Central, they can use a web service to integrate the systems and once the expenses are processed, they can immediately be brought over to Business Central and posted in the general ledger as journal entries.
Application integrations can also be done through a file-based data exchange process. Business Central has several methods for implementing file-based integrations. The first is a data migration tool in RapidStart Services called configuration packages. This allows users to set up the structure of a file and import or export data. Configuration packages are most often used for a one-off import or export. Business Central also has an object type called an XMLport which allows a developer to create a custom import or export. This is the tool that is most often used when a file import or export will be scheduled and used repeatedly.
Through either of these methods, the relevant data files are generated in Business Central and are placed in a shared folder location through Azure. The other system then retrieves those files from the shared location and reads the data contained within. If necessary, your Microsoft Partner can create a bridge that retrieves the files from Azure if the third party system is not structured to easily read cloud-based data. For example, if a company has a subsidiary that uses QuickBooks to manage their accounting processes, an application can be created that reads the shared Business Central files and sends them from Azure to the Windows server.
With file-based integration, there is a time-lag that will occur between data updates, as the connection between the two systems is not continuous. It also requires more manual work and leaves more room for errors. However, if a third party system is not robust enough to talk to the Business Central web services, it would require a file-based integration that may have to rely on a bridge to send files from one application to the other.
Let the Experts Help You Achieve Seamless Integration
There are multiple options when it comes to integrating third party applications with Business Central. Understanding the requirements, capabilities, and limitations of undergoing a software integration is not an easy feat. That’s where a partner like Rand Group comes in. We are the Business Central experts that understand the requirements for achieving seamless data flows between systems. We look at the big picture to help our clients understand the impacts of an integration and what customizations may be required. Get in touch with our Business Central team today to learn more about your integration options.
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