12 August 2015

17 important points for selecting the right integration solution for Microsoft Dynamics NAV and Magento

The number of companies claiming to have a solution for integrating Magento with ERP Microsoft Dynamics NAV is increasing rapidly. Magento is the most widely used e-commerce platform for online retail and Microsoft Dynamics NAV is used by thousands of companies as an ERP system.

We encounter a number of customers that had previously selected vendor ‘X’ and subsequently request Tinx-IT to set up the final integration. The initial vendor was not able to meet expectations for integrating both systems. This entails a number of disadvantageous consequences for the customer and for us:

  • Costs increase and become unmanageable
  • The go-live deadline is often not met
  • The customer’s expectations have to be revised
  • Less confidence in the existence of a reliable integration between Magento and Microsoft Dynamics NAV.

In this whitepaper, we would like to offer you a number of points to consider when selecting the right integration solution and, importantly, which company can support you the most during that selection.
The integration between both systems should never be an afterthought of an e-commerce project; it should be the starting point to integrate Microsoft Dynamics NAV with Magento especially since the integration forms the most important part of your online sales channels.

This checklist can also be used for Magento integrations with ERP systems other than Dynamics NAV, such as SAP, AFAS, Exact, and Dynamics AX.

1. Availability of a functioning demo
Can the vendor show a functioning product, can a demo be requested that demonstrates that it meets the needs of your specific business case? It often occurs that a customized integration is built in during a project that subsequently is sold as a standard solution that should work out-of-the-box. If no demo can be provided, then that often indicates that a one-time customized solution has been used.

2. Standard vs. customized
Does the vendor have a standard solution, or is this being developed as a customized solution specifically for your company? Customized solutions are often riskier because only the supplier developing it understands it (vendor locking), and a dependency on them is created. It can also cause problems during upgrades of your systems. The more customized the solution, the more complex an upgrade of the latest version of the software will be.

3. Specialized know-how
Is the vendor a specialist in this area and do they have a thorough knowledge of both Magento and Microsoft Dynamics NAV? Knowledge of both systems is necessary to set up a successful integration of both systems. The data model of both systems differs greatly.

4. Completed implementations
How many implementations has the integrator performed? What kind of customer cases were these? In order to determine how much integration experience the integrator really has, it is recommended that you request references and cases of implementations performed previously. The more implementations completed, the more the integrator can meet the customer’s requirements.

5. Changes to Magento
How many changes should be made to Magento that affect core files in order to make the integration work?

6. Type of solution: middleware or extension
Type of solution. Is a middleware solution being used? This is a solution that has been installed as independent software between NAV and Magento. This can also be provided through the cloud. Does the solution contact the suppliers’ servers first, or is software being used that has been installed completely separate on the customer’s servers without intervention by the supplier? A supplier connection creates a dependency because if your supplier’s system is not working, neither will the connection.

7. Source code encryption
Has the source code been encrypted upon delivery? This can be a problem if changes to the source code need to be made afterward. Can changes to the configuration be made through a user interface or is the entire integration only possible through programming?

8. Solution flexibility
Is the solution flexible, meaning that potential customization on the NAV database or add-ons are part of the integration without having to rebuild the integration solution? Or are all necessary integration points hardcoded?

9. Horizontal or vertical solution?
What is the solution’s reach? Is it horizontal or vertical? A vertical solution means that the solution is made and geared toward 1 specific industry, for example, fashion or retail. A horizontal solution means that the solution has been set up generically so that the target group is unlimited.

10. Compatibility with Microsoft Dynamics NAV versions
Does the connector work with a number of NAV versions? If you are using an older version of Dynamics NAV system, is it still compatible with the connector? An example is version 5.0. Or is it necessary to upgrade to the latest version of NAV and maybe even a change to the database platform is necessary: from a native database to an SQL database.

11. Multiple Magento versions
Does the connector work with multiple versions of Magento? Check your current Magento installation’s compatibility with the connector of your choice. Does it also follow forthcoming versions if you want to upgrade? Another important question relevant to this subject, is Magento 2.0 supported?

12. Type of connection
Is this a database / ODBC connection so that portals have to be opened, or does the connection take place through the exchange of XML messages via web services? The initial connection can create security issues since access directly on the database.

13. Logging and monitoring
Is the integration completely automated and is everything that happens between these systems being completely logged? Will e-mail notification be used in case the integration between both systems stagnates? Logging and monitoring helps during error analysis and facilitates solving potential problems and disruptions.

14. Implementing changes after going live
Is it easy to make changes after implementation or do you need to consult a specialist? For example, it could occur that you need to save certain data in Magento in the NAV sales order. Should a programming change be made that allows the necessary data to be saved, or are you able to integrate data in Magento easily with fields in Dynamics NAV?

15. User Interface
Is it visible within the application how the linking of fields between Magento and Dynamics is set up? Was a clear user interface provided during the integration? Or is it not visible at all how data between the two systems is exchanged? If no insight is available in how fields are mapped, then the integration is a kind of black box, which means implementing changes is impossible without a programmer.

16. Product Information Management
Can all information be managed in 1 location within the ERP system, or should changes also be made in Magento to improve the product catalog?

17. Total Cost of Ownership
Total Cost of Ownership. (TCO) How much maintenance does the connector need after implementation? Or does it work completely automatic and independently?