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Dynamics CRM and NAV integration tips to boost efficiency

Microsoft Dynamics CRM and NAV integration is more art than science, but this tip provides the steps and paths to some readily available tools that can help.

Microsoft Dynamics CRM and NAV contain overlapping data. By combining the sales data found in Dynamics CRM with the customer data stored in Dynamics NAV, you can gain advantages and improve operational efficiency.

Many organizations initially use Microsoft Dynamics CRM, only to later decide that they want to take advantage of other Microsoft Dynamics products. One popular choice is Microsoft Dynamics NAV, an ERP application. Although Microsoft Dynamics CRM and NAV are separate applications, there are benefits to integrating the two.

Linking Microsoft Dynamics CRM and NAV together involves establishing data synchronization. This means that CRM data can be accessed through NAV and vice versa. As such, the end users can choose to work primarily in whichever product is best suited to their jobs. Identical data is exposed in both applications, but the data may be exposed in different ways.

Microsoft Dynamics CRM customers, for example, typically keep track of sales quotes through the use of accounts. When Dynamics CRM and NAV are integrated, CRM users can use accounts to access customer information associated with NAV. Similarly, NAV users are able to create new customers based on CRM data.

NAV users can also access quotes, opportunities and cases within Dynamics CRM without leaving the Dynamics NAV interface. Of course, customer accounts are only one example of areas in which there is overlap between Dynamics CRM and NAV. There is also sharing of data related to users, products, transaction currencies, units of measure and sales orders.

How to integrate Dynamics CRM and NAV

Integrating Microsoft Dynamics CRM and NAV is more art than science.

Microsoft's answer to integration between Dynamics CRM and NAV is the Connector for Microsoft Dynamics. Integration can be established for both the on-premises and cloud-based versions of the software.

Integrating Microsoft Dynamics CRM and NAV is more art than science. At its simplest, integration can be established by installing the Connector for Microsoft Dynamics, turning on integration and importing your data. Each of these processes is relatively simple, requiring only a few steps. Microsoft cautions customers that integration is designed to work without customizations, but for the best results, you must customize it for your business and customer processes.

The integration and customization process is based around the concept of entity mapping. Entity mapping is a fancy way of saying that because Dynamics CRM and NAV are two separate products, they do not share a common set of records, and therefore, database fields in one application need to be mapped to a database field in the other application. For example, Microsoft Dynamics NAV uses the concept of customers, while Dynamics CRM uses the concept of accounts. Entity mapping is therefore necessary to tell the software there is a relationship between customers and accounts.

For each entity that is mapped, there are four pieces of information required for each entity. The first is the entity name. Second, the connector needs to know the connector source entity -- a NAV customer card, a NAV item card or a NAV resource list, among other things. Third is the synchronization direction. Synchronizations can be bidirectional, but in many cases, data is synchronized only from NAV to CRM, or vice versa. The fourth and final requirement is the connector destination entity. This is the location where the data is being synchronized to. For instance, if the Microsoft Dynamics NAV entity is Customer, the Connector Destination Entity is Account. You can see standard entity mappings and get help with custom entity mappings on Microsoft's Developer Network.

Note that entity mapping can be quite granular. For example, Dynamics NAV uses several different fields within a customer record, and these fields need to be mapped to corresponding fields within a Dynamics CRM account. The customer's name, for instance, is mapped to the CRM Account Name field. The NAV customer Phone Number field is mapped to the CRM account's Main Phone field.

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