Tom Jenkins is the Managing Director at Dynamics Consultants. As well as having a strong product knowledge, his strategic knowledge of industry and the business landscape helps him to provide thought leadership to a range of vertical sectors.
Integrating Microsoft Dynamics® CRM with Microsoft Dynamics® NAV
There are a number of tools that can be used to integrate Dynamics NAV with Dynamics CRM, some such as the Dynamics Connector will not cost you anything (other than time), others are more flexible but have an actual cost. Whichever solution you use, it should make use of the web services to ensure that it runs the native business logic and does not blindly add data to your system.
NAV has its own set of contacts (both Company and Person) and CRM functionality, and depending on your requirements, the Dynamics NAV CRM module could fit your requirements and has the advantage that it is already fully integrated with the ERP. However, Microsoft have put their eggs in the Dynamics CRM basket so I doubt the NAV CRM solution will evolve any further (except for partner add-on solutions), and may even disappear over time.
The Dynamics Connector as standard does not integrate NAV Company Contacts. The Connector seems to have been written from the perspective of a Dynamics CRM user adopting a Dynamics ERP solution rather than a Dynamics ERP user adopting the Dynamics CRM solution, and this kind of makes sense when you consider the normal flow of the process – Prospects and Sales all handled in the CRM solution, only getting passed on to NAV at the point of an order, at which time the integration is by way of an Account to a Customer and the Contact to a Contact – there is no allowance in the standard Dynamics Connector to allow for prospect information in Dynamics NAV.
This is a problem for customers with NAV who want to adopt Dynamics CRM, and it is more one of a mind-set issue than a technical one. Effectively, if you are adopting CRM, then the best thing to do is delete all your prospect information from NAV and import it into CRM. This makes most long time NAV users feel a bit uneasy, but if you are going to use Dynamics CRM then embrace it and prospect info in NAV is no longer required! If you don’t do this, then you can end up with a lot of orphaned contacts in your CRM with no account information.
There is an alternative, the connector can be configured to integrate prospect information with NAV, it requires an extra map in the connector and some changes to the Integration Management codeunit, but it works like a charm and handles changing a contact from a Company to a Person and vice versa. Some of the third party tools may already allow for this but it is worth questioning whether you really need the prospect info in NAV.
Perhaps the bigger challenge is the Service Management Integration. Again, NAV contains a Service Management area that overlaps the Dynamics CRM functionality. Whilst in Dynamics CRM, you can mark a particular customer as being under contract and mark an individual contract as being invoiced, Dynamics CRM does not track or handle the financial implications of this at all, nor does it handle particularly well the renewals aspect of contract management – all of this is best handled in NAV, this leads to the decision of where the best cut-off point is for integration, and again you may be asking do I need Dynamics CRM if this can be handled in NAV, already fully integrated – this decision is down to your exact requirements.
So, what is the first step you need to do when considering the integration between Dynamics NAV and Dynamics CRM? You may get a different answer depending on who you ask, but perhaps a good starting point is to make sure you actually need Dynamics CRM before you consider the complexities of integrating with it.
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