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Microsoft Dynamics 365 (D365) is one of the leading ERPs within the retail space and is the latest iteration of Microsoft’s products in this area. As with any ERP system, requirements and implementations are often complex due to the extensive variety of use cases that the system can enable. Inevitably system integration and data flows between Dynamics 365 and other operational systems is potentially challenging as a result.
I caught up with Rob Mole, Clekt’s Customer Success Manager on this topic. Rob has over 11 years of experience in software solutions, with direct involvement with Microsoft Navision. He understands the challenges of scoping and implementing D365 and other ERP Systems into retail businesses. Knows the potential issues and complications, particularly around Dynamics 365 integration with external systems.
There can be many reasons for driving change in a business and the ERP is usually the heartbeat of a retailer’s system architecture. It could be a forced change, in that the current version or software is end of life. Generally, it will be part of a bigger strategic change that many retailers and businesses are embarking on, which is digitalisation and the move to cloud-based solutions.
This approach recognises the need to react rapidly to the ever-changing market conditions and customer expectations of a brand. Equally a move to cloud-based technologies negates the need for in house infrastructure support and often includes elastic, on demand pricing models based on usage which can be commercially attractive.
The reason many of our customers attribute to the leap to the cloud-based SaaS D365 revolve largely around an adjusted internal technology strategy. Recognising the need to react quickly to the evolving business landscape and increasing customer expectations. The requirement for a pathway to adjust and update the estate quickly. For example, POS settings can be changed across the company much more quickly and efficiently from D365 than via an on-prem Dynamics NAV set-up.
In addition to the technology-based benefits of an ERP replacement the business case is often predicated on more effective inventory management. The working capital invested in stock in a retail business is incredibly significant. The ERP is the system which retailers use to manage the procurement of stock and the placement of product into selling channels. Even marginal improvements in better matching customer demand with product supply resulting in a reduction in working capital invested in stock can flow millions of pounds to operating profit.
Making the move to a cloud-based ERP requires the new system to be integrated into other technologies that the retailers use, for example their eCommerce platform and warehouse management system. The main challenge that businesses and retailers especially face is unpicking the number of integrations that have been built over time from the outgoing system. This is where leaning on an experienced partner can be vital when aiming to deliver on time and within budget and to ensure that the result is robust, scalable for growth and fully supported.
When integrating D365 using our platform the Enterprise Data Hub, operational data from all integrated systems flow through a dynamic data services layer. In doing so the Enterprise Data Hub not only provides the mapping and integration needs but also holds this data as one single view of truth. Encapsulating the entire business and enabling all systems to fluidly query the most precise information at any given time. This is a fantastic example of how the implementation of D365 partnering with the Enterprise Data Hub can give initial delivery clarity but form part of the wider Digital/Data strategy of the business.
“The Enterprise Data Hub is a solution for seamless Dynamics 365 Integration with all external systems and can be undertaken in a phased manner as smaller bites of a much larger project if needed.”
The Enterprise Data Hub is a solution for seamless Dynamics 365 Integration with all external systems and can be undertaken in a phased manner as smaller bites of a much larger project if needed. This makes it both time and cost effective, as integrations can be live in a relatively short amount of time. The need for point-to-point integrations is eliminated and better still the data services within the Enterprise Data Hub can be used multiple times to integrate different operational systems.
It’s imperative that any integrations are of a high functional standard, reliable and robust to support essential business processes in real time. Within an omnichannel business it is essential to ensure that stock levels across all channels are accurate, available stock surfaced is up to date, and orders are processed in a timely fashion aiding the customer journey. The Enterprise Data Hub has been built to manage data at scale and in real time.
No matter how well managed, point to point integrations are they simply cannot offer the same functional richness, even when newly developed. As business operations and tech stacks evolve, any point-to-point integrations become legacy and require increasingly more work to manage and maintain. The modern data architecture is plug & play with a dynamic data services layer, such as the Enterprise Data Hub, connecting operational systems.
“The modern data architecture is plug & play with a dynamic data services layer, such as the Enterprise Data Hub, connecting operational systems.”
In addition, through the Enterprise Data Hub data is captured and harvested in order that it can be used for operational reporting or a deeper analytical interrogation of the business at a granular level. This is another benefit of taking a strategic approach to integration.
Using the Enterprise Data Hub to implement such large-scale vital integrations reduces the risk factor across all areas of the retail and multichannel business operation. Delivers smoother functionality, a more confident customer experience and increasing revenue as a result.
Any large-scale systems integration is a significant investment of resource. As such considerations should be taken to put in place a systems architecture that can evolve quickly and reliably to meet the changing needs of the business. By adopting our platform which allows for the development of a flexible data architecture, designed specifically to shape around your business’s needs, a future-proof solution is guaranteed.
Future upgrades to systems such as D365, or additional external systems can be integrated with ease. Removing the need for countless, complicated point-to-point connections and the time delays and risks they inherently bring.
To discuss a Dynamics 365 implementation please give us a call or leave your details here and Rob or a member of the team will be in touch.