Integrating Dynamics 365 Business Central with Dynamics 365 CRM Applications
When Dynamics 365 Business Central is integrated with Dynamics 365 CRM applications such as Dynamics 365 Sales or Field Service, your business will benefit from having a single, reliable source of truth.
For example, we’ve integrated Business Central and Dynamics 365 Field Service for a waste management company to make their whole customer lifecycle, from prospecting to invoicing, one seamless process.
Table of Contents
- Benefits of D365 CRM to Business Central Integration
- Which Fields Can Be Integrated?
- Which Fields Should Be Integrated?
- Bidirectional vs Unidirectional
- Example Integration Mapping
- Limitations with Integration
- How to Prepare
- Further Resources
Which Dynamics 365 Applications Can We Integrate?
Any and all of the Dynamics 365 applications can be integrated together.
This article covers integrations between the most common Dynamics 365 ERP app, Business Central, and any of the 5 Dynamics 365 CRM apps: Sales, Customer Service, Field Service, Project Operations, and Marketing.
This group of CRM apps is also sometimes called “Customer Engagement” or “CE” applications. They are all built on the same flexible technical foundation: Power Platform and Microsoft’s Dataverse.
To learn about integrations between the CRM applications and the other Dynamics 365 ERP, Finance & Operations, read my colleagues’ articles on the basics of Dual-write and more the technical Dynamics 365 CRM to F&O integration best practices.
Benefits of Dynamics 365 CRM to Business Central Integration
There are five main benefits to this integration:
- Enables you to provide a better customer experience, because your team can access all customer information in a single place.
- Avoidance of duplicate data entry, which would otherwise waste time and lead to mistakes.
- Easier interdepartmental co-operation between your sales and service teams and your accounting and warehousing teams.
- Can reduce licensing costs for certain users – for instance a finance person can create an invoice that depends on a price list from your Dynamics 365 Sales application without needing a Sales app license.
- Leverage more flexible D365 customizations from Customer Engagement apps for invoicing and other processes in Business Central. (The Customer Engagement apps are built to be more flexible than Business Central.) For instance, your company’s special fields and calculations for work orders in Dynamics 365 Field Service can be shown and used in Business Central.
To give you these benefits, the integration has to configured to fit your specific business processes, technology, and needs. Work with a Dynamics Partner experienced in implementing the ERP and CRM sides of Dynamics 365 together.
Which Fields Can Be Integrated Between Business Central and Dynamics 365 CRM Apps?
Technically, all of them, but integrating unnecessary fields will slow down your system and make it harder to maintain. That’s why your partner should help you assess your business processes and technical situation to determine which fields need to be integrated and how — unidirectional, bidirectional, etc.
Learn more about the limitations of integration.
Which Fields Should Be Integrated?
The main decision point for integrating any individual field is in which system your users will need to use or change the data.
For instance, your team members will probably use account data like email or physical addresses in both sides of your system. It’s often best to have that kind of account data coupled so that your ERP and CRM will always agree on a customer’s address, and you’ll avoid duplicate data entry, confusion, and errors.
Note that your Dynamics Partner can further streamline your integration by using filters on integrated fields, limiting which data is passed between systems. For instance, your Dynamics 365 Sales application will have information about both customers and leads, but you can filter it so that only the customer info gets passed on to Business Central.
Which Fields Should Not Be Integrated?
If your users just need to see data from one system in the other interface, then we can simply display it via Power BI, virtual tables, or another method.
If, for instance, salespeople need to check warehouse inventory conveniently, that could be shown inside Dynamics 365 Sales via Power BI. To your salespeople, that would look like the inventory information is “in” their CRM application, but your system will run faster and be easier to maintain than if we truly integrated that field.
Here’s another example: You may hold price lists in your CRM application like Dynamics 365 Sales, and in Business Central you need those values for invoicing. But you generally don’t want the price list itself in your ERP. You want the calculation of the price to happen in the CRM, and then the invoice line item to get passed over to Business Central.
Bidirectional vs Unidirectional Integration
The difference between bidirectional and unidirectional integration is whether data for a field flows “both ways” between the ERP and the CRM, or whether it flows in only one direction. We usually suggest unidirectional for most fields.
A field that you set up with bidirectional integration can be changed by users in either the CRM or the ERP application. This is convenient, but it means that it may not be clear by whom or how the field should be changed, which can lead to confusion and errors later. If you’re wondering why the account name was changed, for instance, you may not be sure whether a sales or finance person made that change.
Note that there is a potential downside to unidirectional data – some users may find it counterintuitive to have a field they can see in both systems, but can only edit in one. Training from your Dynamics Partner, and good interface design, can limit this problem.
Note that you can choose a different integration “direction” for each field.
Example Integration Mapping
Here’s an example integration mapping, along with two examples of fields we probably wouldn’t integrate.
CRM -> Business Central
CRM -> Business Central
CRM ⇔ Business Central
Business Central -> CRM
Business Central -> CRM
The integration map for your business should be developed with the guidance of a skilled Dynamics Partner who has taken the time to learn your business needs and processes.
Limitations With Integration
One limitation that is sometimes overlooked in Dynamics 365 integrations is that the technical work of integrating fields is only half the battle.
You also need user training, adoption, and change management to help your teams understand and collaborate through the new technology. This “people” side of the integration project is essential, and your Dynamics Partner should guide and assist you with it.
The second major limitation is that integrating more than you need will cause later maintenance and performance problems. If you integrate unnecessary fields, that will contribute to:
- Slowness (because unnecessary data is being passed back and forth).
- Difficulty diagnosing any problem, like a job synchronization error.
How to Prepare for the Integration: Document Your Processes
In order to tailor your Dynamics 365 integration to suit your real needs, your partner will require a detailed explanation of your current business processes and pain points.
This information helps us advise you on how to improve those processes with the new technology, and then determine the details of how each field should be integrated, whether it needs any filters or if/then logic, etc.
Note that your processes may change over the course of the implementation and integration, but that change should itself be well documented.
For a technical resource for developers, explore Microsoft’s Connect to Microsoft Dataverse page.
To learn more about best practices for Dynamics implementations, you may be interested in:
- Managing ERP Implementation Risks
- Dynamics 365 Solution Architecture
- User Acceptance Testing for Dynamics 365
For advice and assistance tailored to your specific needs, please contact us. We’d love to help.
Many customers come to us for their first Dynamics implementation. Others want to add a new solution to their Microsoft stack. And others ask for help with ongoing but troubled implementations.