As a Microsoft Dynamics NAV specialist I am asked sometimes to estimate or design integrations. Recently I was asked to provide general information and documentation of how to integrate NAV with other systems but also provide cost estimations.
That is a fair question, though there is no short and simple answer. Ok, I can give you a short answer and you can evaluate if this is simple: Microsoft Dynamics NAV is very flexible software and basically (almost?) everything is possible, but sometimes costs are higher than benefits and it does not pay off. The bottom line here is that, in NAV we don’t have the one and only way of integrating the system with some other systems, and I would like to share with you some observations on this topic.
First things first. What is an integration between IT systems? I am not going to paste here a definition from Wikipedia, but instead I would define it in simple words as a capability of communicating between different systems. The same as in the real world — when people discussing or exchanging emails — in the similar way systems can talk to each other. And also in the similar way systems cannot just say whatever they like and without listening each other (at least from time to time). Alike in the real world systems need to understand each other. They have to speak the same language. Instead of the language, we sometimes use protocols or formats to define the way how systems can interact. There can be many different types of integrations, for instance simple integrations like only exporting Chart of Accounts from the ERP system, or something more sophisticated, requiring sending messages in two ways directions. Just to give you some examples of integrations I have seen and been working on, have been about integrating ERP with:
As you can see, integration from ERP can be done to different types of endpoints. It can be other system in withincompany or you may want to integrate yours system with 3rd party service provider. Chances also are that you need to integrate not only system as such but sometimes some special devices (like fiscal printers).
There are some integrations, that are available out of the box. Of course it depends on the NAV version you are using and there might be some pre-requisites or configuration required, but generally following options are available:
Most likely you are not the only company in the world trying to integrate your ERP/Retail system with the web shop or bank. That’s why some Microsoft Partners offer specific integrations sold as addons or components. Just to name one — LS Omni solution from LS Retail supports integration between web, mobile and in-store commerce services.
That’s not all! As I have already mentioned, Microsoft Dynamics NAV is very flexible and in fact can support any other integrations you can imagine. It is possible, becasue there are already provided some universal tools that can be utilized to build integrations.
About the cost estimations, it is very hard to provide specific figures without knowing what exactly we are going to integrate and how. It really depends on the complexity and formats we are going to use. I would say, that each integration is different, and total cost/effort depends on many factors. What I can say at least, based on my experience, is that to implement integrations is rather time consuming task. And it does not mean that it is complex task to develop them. Actually, establishing integration is always something about coordination between different parties (often including 3rd parties) — so it really requires good planning and time to put it all together, design, build, test and finally to monitor integrations once they are alive. Also it is worth to mention, that usually it takes more than one iteration of development/and full end to end testing to get it working, find bugs and align with all requirements.
To sum up, there is nothing like one common approach to integrations. There are some OOTB solutions and also many ready products on the market. Still, very often those are not enough and you need to build something custom-tailored.
If you are a NAV specialist, I am pretty sure you share my opinion. Anyway, I would be happy to hear if you agree or disagree, or if I missed some out-of-the-box integration features. If you are an existing or potential customer, I hope I was able to help you understand the idea and basic principles of integrations in Microsoft Dynamics NAV and present what are the possibilities. The bottom line is following: it does require effort to make different systems to talk to each other — it is not only about one switch to activate it auto-magically. This is how it is in the real life as well - you need to learn the language first to speak to other people :)
Solteq is a leading provider of Microsoft Dynamics NAV and LSRetail solutions and both NAV & LSRetail are strategically important solutions in Solteq’s portfolio. Solteq has delivered several demanding Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) projects and upgrades during the past 30 years specializing in Microsoft Dynamics -portfolio. Solteq’s strategy is to be world’s smallest international digital commerce provider. We want to be small enough to care and nurture our customers –– but large enough to carry through international implementations.
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