In a round table interview with several M-Files partners, our DMS specialist Andreas Blom discusses issues around the integration possibilities of the enterprise content management system M-Files in Microsoft's ERP solution Dynamics 365 Business Central and explains how you can thereby increase data and process quality and reduce process costs at the same time.
You can already find some excerpts of the interview with the answers of our expert here in this news, you can read the complete article on ecmguide.de.
What interfaces and possibilities are there for the integration of ECM and ERP systems?
Blom: Roughly speaking, you can distinguish between three types: First, a routine CSV export of data and files that are stored on the file server and automatically read in again by the DMS. The problem we see here is that it is a unidirectional interface and there is a time delay in updating data. Secondly, the connection to the database of the ERP system via ODBC. The problem here is that only data can be exchanged and no files - i.e. documents. In addition, no authentication is possible, which is why fewer and fewer ERP systems allow this access. As a third option, the connection can be made via an interface - usually REST API - as with our DMS Connector for MS Dynamics 365 Business Central / NAV. Then you get a complete, bidirectional exchange of data and files with maximum security through encryption and authentication.
When does which level of integration make sense for the user?
Blom: A deep integration between ERP and DMS makes sense when both systems are part of a work process and information from both systems is needed in parallel. The demands on integration increase when these processes have to be repeated frequently. For example, if I work in internal sales and my job is to process quotations and orders, deep integration makes sense because I need to write my quotations and orders in the ERP system, but archiving should be done in the DMS to comply with regulatory obligations. Without an interface, the documents have to be archived manually. The more quotations and orders there are to process each day, the more it makes sense to automate the processing of incoming and self-created documents via an interface. The M-Files DMS Connector for Dynamics takes over these tasks and thus creates significant time savings and higher data quality in daily work.
The diagram describes the primary functions of the (M-Files) DMS Connector for Dynamics 365 Business Central.
Can the current ERP and ECM systems be integrated equally well?
Blom: Good integration depends on being able to set it up flexibly without programming knowledge. Every company has its own subtleties when it comes to carrying out work processes. A good interface makes it possible to set up these subtleties at any time without the need for complex programming. Our M-Files DMS Connector for Dynamics is set up for the primary processes or requirements by the trained customer himself or by a consultant. A developer is only needed for special requirements. This reduces the ongoing support costs for the customer.
How well does ECM-ERP integration work in the cloud? How deep can an integration go if the customer wants a multi-tenant infrastructure in a public cloud?
Blom: The integration in cloud scenarios works very well. With the introduction of the "Microsoft AppSource", Microsoft ensures for Business Central that only validated apps are available for all customers on the platform. This means that a Business Central customer can look at the available apps in the Appsource and can easily install them in his tenant. In addition, Microsoft is pushing applications or installation wizards that support customers during the initial setup. This massively accelerates and simplifies the installation and activation process. The DMS Connector for Dynamics Business Central Online for M-Files is such a validated app in AppSource. It supports the connection of M-Files for on-premises, cloud, public cloud or hybrid deployment.
If an integration between ECM and ERP takes place, this may mean higher licence costs for the users, as both systems are used by more users. Can the additional licence costs be minimised?
Blom: The development and ongoing optimisation of an interface means effort for the manufacturer, which is priced into a licence fee. Therefore, the licence fees cannot be minimised, but the opportunity costs can, because at the moment when the interface takes over mindless and or time-consuming process steps, the employee has more time for his actual work. Good integration leads to time and cost savings for the whole company and increases the data quality in the ERP and DMS system.
When should the ECM and when should the ERP system take the leading role?
Blom: As an implementation partner for DMS and ERP systems, TSO-DATA knows both worlds very well and therefore sees the primary role with the ERP system, as data sovereignty is usually the responsibility of the ERP system. Master data is normally generated in the ERP system and then made available for the indexing and archiving of documents. However, there are processes in which information from incoming documents is first recorded in the DMS system, which triggers processes in the ERP system. In this case, a bidirectional interface makes sense.
Do you have further questions about integrating M-Files into your ERP system Dynamics 365 Business Central / Dynamics NAV? Contact us, we look forward to hearing from you.