How Innovia delivered their custom integrations for Microsoft's Cloud Service Provider Billing between Dynamics 365 and Business Central.
“Without the SmartConnect integration and automation between systems we would have had to add at least two full-time salaries to our accounting team.”
Microsoft CSP Billing integrated with Dynamics 365 Sales and Business Central
The way businesses purchase software has changed. More and more of Innovia’s clients are purchasing cloud-based software subscriptions with monthly billing. As a direct Microsoft Cloud Solution Provider (CSP), Innovia realized they’d need to eliminate manual processes to accommodate this change without needing additional operations staff.
“Bottomline, we needed to change the way we invoice our customers. We needed a way to process monthly payments and enable our customers to easily update their license counts, without human intervention” said Donavan Lane, Chairman at Innovia.
Innovia was already using Dynamics 365 Business Central (BC) for accounting and Dynamics 365 Sales to manage sales. They chose to add Work 365, a SaaS-based CSP Automation Provider, to efficiently invoice and manage their Microsoft cloud subscription customers. Work 365 is integrated with Microsoft Partner Center through an API and enables Innovia’s customers to add/remove licenses dynamically with the click of a button.
- Grew their cloud business without adding headcount.
- Completely automated their Microsoft licensing billing to customers while syncing data to their CRM and financial system.
- Removed the reliance on operations staff for invoicing.
While Work 365 provided the functionality Innovia needed to manage their cloud software sales, the basic elements of provisioning cloud licenses is a separate system, with no integration to their accounting and sales solutions.
Work 365 is built inside of Dynamics 365 Sales, which is a great marketing tool with global functionality. BC has an out-of-box integration to Dynamics 365 Sales but it doesn’t integrate to the accounting functionality in BC.
“We needed to connect Work 365 and Dynamics 365 Sales to BC. We thought about writing the customization ourselves but realized that probably wasn’t the most efficient approach,” says Lane. “SmartConnect is a well-respected tool in the Microsoft space so we reached out to see what it could do for us.”
“We chose SmartConnect and eOne Solutions after careful research. We looked at eOne’s customer service, documentation, issue tracking and support. The team at eOne knocks it out of the park. It’s a very well-run company,” Lane said.
To kick off the project, Innovia engaged the eOne team to help define their requirements. The primary objective was to integrate any invoices generated in Dynamics 365 Sales through Work 365 across to their BC environment. Sounds easy, right?
In order to successfully synchronize invoices between Dynamics 365 Sales and BC, all the supporting records needed to be addressed as well. This included customers, vendors, contacts, products, price levels, etc. – which all required their own integrations.
Each of these records had different requirements on when they should be synced, and differences in what direction the data would be moving between Dynamics 365 Sales and BC. CE accounts needed to be integrated to both the vendor and customer records – but only if the relationship type on the account is set to either “Customer” or “Vendor”. Any changes to a customer or vendor record in BC also needed to be sent back to CE.
Products and inventory are fully managed within BC, and the requirement is that each of those records is integrated to Dynamics 365 Sales once the pricing fields are populated in BC and the product is marked as active.
Finally, invoices generated through Work 365 in Dynamics 365 Sales would need to be synced across to BC once the status has changed to “Billed”.
SmartConnect was able to meet all of Innovia’s requirements, resulting in a fully-configurable integration solution. To handle the differences in when data should be synced, filters were setup in SmartConnect to control when data is picked up and which integrations process specific records. To ensure the integrations were automated, true real-time triggers were used to integrate data from Dynamics 365 Sales to BC once all the criteria were met and scheduled integrations were used for data originating in BC.
Additionally, SmartConnect automatically works with the custom fields Innovia added to both Dynamics 365 Sales and BC. For inventory records, up to eight additional custom fields are populated by users creating new products. These fields hold data related to Work 365 and CSP details. SmartConnect is able to pull the data from these fields with the rest of the product information, and then that data is mapped to a combination of custom fields and Work 365 fields within Dynamics 365 Sales.
Those most critical part of the integration solution is how SmartConnect handles data that doesn’t match directly between Dynamics 365 Sales and BC. Data is transformed where needed as it is synced back and forth between BC and Dynamics 365 Sales, ensuring that it passes the business rules for each environment. “This was crucial to the success of the project. You can’t possibly think of all the variables between systems and their structures. The data is valid in both systems even though it is stored differently, and it must be tied together. The way data is formatted and stored can’t be changed, however it can be manipulated as it passes between the systems,” said Lane.
Innovia believes the biggest benefit of implementing SmartConnect is related to invoices and being able to create and manage their quotes and opportunities in one marketing system and with the click of a button create an invoice that is pushed to Business Central as an unposted invoice.
“We have two people in our accounting department. In the trailing 12-month period we’ve processed 9,000 licenses,” said Lane. “Without the SmartConnect integration and automation between systems we would have had to add at least two full-time salaries to our accounting team.”