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Customer Story

Automate Cloud Software Sales & Invoicing

Using SmartConnect to integrate Work 365 with Dynamics 365 Business Central and Dynamics 365 CE enabled Innovia to grow their cloud business without adding headcount.

Innovia’s Background

Microsoft partner Innovia Consulting is a successful, growing professional services firm with customers worldwide. Effectively and efficiently managing customer relationships is a vital component of their success.

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 Customer Engagement (CE) 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 PartnerCenter through an API and enables Innovia’s customers to add/remove licenses dynamically with the click of a button.

Issues & Challenges

Key issues that needed to be solved:

  • Determining what/when records should be synced between CE and BC and what direction data should be moving between the systems.
  • Handling custom fields specific to the Innovia environment.
  • How to automate as much of the integration process as possible.

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 CE, which is a great marketing tool with global functionality. BC has an out-of-box integration to CE but it doesn’t integrate to the accounting functionality in BC.

“We needed to connect Work 365 and CE 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.”

Without the SmartConnect integration and automation between systems, we would’ve had to add at least two full-time salaries to our accounting team.

Donavan Lane, Chairman at Innovia

The Solution

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 CE through Work 365 across to their BC environment. Sounds easy, right?

In order to successfully synchronize invoices between CE 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 CE 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 CE once the pricing fields are populated in BC and the product is marked as active. Finally, invoices generated through Work 365 in CE 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, different 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 CE 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 CE 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 CE.

The most critical part of the integration solution is how SmartConnect handles data that doesn’t match directly between CE and BC. Data is transformed where needed as it is synced back and forth between BC and CE, 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.

The Results

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.”