Why do integrated CRM and ERP systems matter?
It makes sense that all businesses would use a single application for every aspect of the business management, right? In reality, that’s almost never true. This means most businesses need to switch between one or more applications and often need to duplicate data input. For example, you might need to create a quote in one system, but process and order it in another programme. Maybe your customer service application is completely separate from your marketing system?
That’s where integrations can help businesses reduce time and effort, as well as preventing incorrect duplicate data input, improving productivity, making the user experience better and reducing costs. Dynamics 365 Customer Engagement (D365 CE) and the Common Data Service (CDS) have a fully documented, secure application programming interface (API). That means you can integrate any system with it, as long as it can ‘talk’ to these APIs. Find out more about the importance of APIs in business systems.
That’s what a lot of companies, including Microsoft, have already done with the business systems they created and support. There are integrations between finance solutions, mapping systems, document signing software, marketing platforms, event management software and more. At TSG, we offer a lot of these solutions to our customers to help with such integrations. Docusign, for instance, is a product we use internally for our D365 CE system that allows us to send out documents which require signatures.
But there are products which don’t have integrations like this, and that’s where custom integration pieces are needed; where a developer has to build this integration. D365 CE has an API, and it’s pretty good. Microsoft provides a lot of documentation and examples to help people build custom integrations in a short space of time, meaning with a little develop you can essentially connect basically anything to D365 CE.
What’s more, Microsoft wants to put the power back into people’s hands; for example, people who don’t know how to code can achieve automation with Power Automate (previously Microsoft Flow). This solution not only has native integration with D365 CE and other Microsoft products, it also includes a way to talk to APIs, meaning you now have the power yourself to create these integrations.
Let’s go through an example. You are a business that has both Dynamics 365 for Sales and a finance system. D365 is used for account and contact management, qualifying your leads, generating quotes and orders, while your finance system processes the orders and maintains your stock. When you get a new customer, you create them in your D365 system; you input the account, the contact at the account, then create the quote and the order. Without integration, you then need to go into your finance system and recreate the account, the contact at the account and the order. You have duplicated your workload and, if this is done multiple times a day, it can lead to errors in data input.
If this finance system had an API, we could use Power Automate to bridge the gap. When an account and contact are created, we instantly create them in the finance system, mapping all the fields from D365 Sales to the other system. When an order is created or updated in D365, we create or update it in the finance system. No more manual data re-entry, no more duplication of work, no more data errors. Your users get the time back to do something else for the business, like generate more sales.
Microsoft wants to give you the power back with its ethos that automation and integration should be something everyone can do, not just the developers in the back office.
Keep your eyes peeled for my next blog, where I’ll cover the fantastic integrations between different Microsoft solutions and highlight how this can help you become more productive and efficient.