Microsoft GP Integration Tools to Know

Microsoft Dynamics GP Integration is a powerful feature of the Microsoft Dynamics GP with the ability to seamlessly integrate data from external sources into GP (Great Plains). Microsoft have perfected the art of offering technology solutions, and a number of ISVs have taken advantage of this to offer tools with sophisticated front-ends.

Microsoft GP Integration Tools to Know

The Integration Manager (IM)

Microsoft offers this as a separate application from the regular GP that is usually used when importing data from external sources into GP. As a graphical application, IM’s design focuses on ease of use, with no programming skills required in order to define data integration. Often considered as a ‘power user’ tool during the design and mapping of integration, IM allows any user to run integration that have already been defined. With IM, users can easily integrate data across business applications. Integrating data is simply extracting data from external databases or source applications and bringing the selected data into a destination. External sources include e-commerce solutions, business databases, or any other data file types.
When creating Microsoft Dynamics GP Integration you will have to specify your sources and destinations, as well as destination mappings. The data to be integrated into a specified destination, like ODBC databases and text files, also constitute sources. A destination is where you want to integrate source data within GP, such as Payables Transaction or General Journal. Lastly, the destination mapping is where your items from source data end up in.

  • Source: Origin of the information to be integrated into GP. This can be as simple as a comma- or tab-de-limited file, or as complex as a database (ODBC).
  • Source adapters: These connect to sources. They filter and extract data.
  • Destination:  Shows where to integrate the information. It can be an application or database. A good example of a destination is the GP.
  • Destination adapters: – These validate data before integration into the destination. Install a destination adapter so that you can select a destination.
  • Destination mappings: – These define how you will map source data to the destination
  • Query relationship: – It is required when you specify multiple text/ODBC sources to create a relationship (query relationship) between those queries.

eConnect

eConnect is a set of tools, files, services, interfaces, and components that allow other applications to interact with GP, programmatically. It contains a unique set of SQL procedures stored/ installed within each Microsoft GP company database. The stored procedures’ work is to enforce business rules or logic in GP so that only valid data is smoothly imported. eConnect is used by the other two data integration options (IM and Web Services) to offer their core capabilities. Included with eConnect are many other standard programming interfaces, such as eConnect.NET Assembly to help interact with eConnect; Message Queuing (MSMQ), provides message-based interface for eConnect; BizTalk Adapter, for BizTalk-eConnect connection; and SQL Stored Procedures define by eConnect (for direct access).
The above eConnect interfaces will allow external applications such as web services, web storefronts, legacy applications, or POS systems to integrate with GP. Such external applications can perform functions like creating, deleting, updating, and retrieving back office transactions and documents. eConnect supplies many documents, but it does not have all GP features. “Back office” refers to the financial management system (GP in this case.) With eConnect you can take advantage of GP’s existing transaction based business logic to allow you to channel your energy and time to create or enhance custom apps for the front office.

Ways eConnect Helps to Enhance Your Applications

  • Add real-time access to GP/back office data
  •  Share crucial financial management data across applications. Changes to your financial data in GP are simultaneously availed to other applications, as long as they have eConnect connection to that particular company.

The Benefits of Application Integration Using eConnect Include:

  • Reduced development time
  • Reuse of existing development tools
  •  Leveraging industry-standard technologies

In addition, eConnect uses XML documents (text-based form of back office data) to transport data into/out of GP. eConnect uses XML schemas to offer back office integration to applications that can create or use the XML documents.

Web Services

Web Services for GP is for the provision of a standard Web service interface for access of data in GP, and uses Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP), Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP), or other standard Internet Transport protocols or XML-based document formats to exchange information. Often, ASP.NET is used as the foundation when implementing the Web Services for GP, which uses eConnect to allow access to the Microsoft Dynamics GP data.
This service provides an excellent way for other applications to integrate easily with the data in the GP accounting system. Consider the Dynamics GP Web Services (in general terms) as a software system designed to provide support for machine-machine interaction via a network. To be more specific, they are software systems that provide other applications with data and services. Windows Communication Foundation (WCF) acts as the foundation when implementing Dynamics GP Web Services. Starting with version 3, WCF became a part of Microsoft’s .NET Framework. WFC offers support for several standard protocols that may be utilized for web services.

In addition, Web Services can secure access to vital data by tightly controlling access to the data and services made available to other third-party applications. Ideally, the GP Web Service provides access to the main documents in the GP accounting or financial management system.

Below are some of the popular document types

  • Vendors
  •  Accounts
  •  Customers
  •  Sales Documents
  • Purchase Documents
  • Payables Transactions
  • Receivables transactions
  • General Ledger Transactions

Integrating applications can use the web service to create new documents, delete or void documents, retrieve documents, and update existing documents. In addition, the web service for GP if fully integrated with the Microsoft Dynamics Security Service. The web service administrator can configure security to allow only specific users to perform certain actions, such as creating/ updating sales documents.

Conclusion

Microsoft Dynamics GP offers a number of integration tools that businesses can take advantage of, including Integration Manager, eConnect, and GP Web Services. Enterprises can leverage these tools to move data from other applications and databases into Dynamics GP using these Microsoft Dynamics GP Integration tools.

Michael Taylor
Michael is the Lead Author & Editor of DynaMe. DynaMe is a blog focused on cloud based Microsoft Dynamics.
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