Increase Productivity and Streamline Integrations by Migrating Your ERP Platform to the Cloud

February 5, 2024 Timothy Sparks

Does your business use an on-prem version of Microsoft Dynamics (NAV, GP, SL, AX or Business Central)? If so, your employees may often be forced to bounce back and forth with other Microsoft applications as they hunt for information to interact with each other, customers, and vendors.  

Perhaps you have managed to limit that moving around somewhat, by integrating Dynamics with the Microsoft Office suite, Outlook, or Power BI. But your IT team likely spends a lot of time setting up and maintaining the integrations. 

The answer to these challenges comes from migrating your ERP platform to Dynamics 365 Business Central in the cloud. In addition to enabling new integration capabilities that you simply can’t get with an on-prem solution, it takes a lot less time to set up and maintain integrations when you tap into the Microsoft tech stack in the Azure cloud.  

The net result from these streamlined integrations is that your employees can work more efficiently, and you free up the time of your IT team to focus on strategic IT initiatives. 

Access ERP Data Quickly—Right from Teams 

One of the key integration differences between on-prem and the cloud is Microsoft Teams. On-prem users who communicate with Teams have to leave the application and open the ERP application to look up accounting, sales, and production information.  

In the cloud, where Dynamics 365 Business Central integrates automatically with Teams, users can spend their entire day working in Teams if they want to. This allows them to communicate throughout the day with customers, vendors, and other internal users.  

At the same time, they can view and edit Dynamics 365 Business Central data and run jobs and processes—all within Teams. There’s no need to jump from one application to another. This improves productivity while also speeding up how quickly employees can complete tasks. 

Tap Into Artificial Intelligence 

Another key function on-prem users miss out on is the ability to leverage artificial intelligence through Microsoft Copilot. In the cloud, Copilot integrates with Dynamics 365 Business Central as well as Teams, Outlook, and all the other Office products—Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, and OneDrive. 

Copilot provides real-time intelligent assistance in searching for and compiling data from all these applications, which enables users to accelerate decision-making and enhance their creativity. In February, watch for a new Copilot widget (Clippy 2.0) for Dynamics 365 Business Central that Microsoft is releasing. It will allow users to ask natural-language questions for any information they need. 

Automate Approval Workflows  

Other cool benefits of Business Central integrations in the cloud that the accounting team will appreciate include AI-driven bank account reconciliations and late-payment predictions. The cloud version of Business Central also integrates with Microsoft Power Automate. This allows accounting to set up approvals for processes like credit requests, sales orders, purchase orders, and other ERP workflows. 

You can use Power Automate as well to monitor social media posts about your company and download the comments into Microsoft Power BI to analyze trends. These reports—along with all other Power BI reports—can be accessed from within Dynamics 365 Business Central and Teams. Microsoft gives cloud users an extra boost by providing more template Power BI reports compared to what’s available for on-prem Dynamics users. 

Reduce Set-Up and Maintenance Time  

Another benefit to consider is the customized integration between Dynamics 365 Business Central and Shopify, the e-commerce platform for online stores and retail point-of-sale systems. For on-prem ERP systems, a connector is required, which limits the customization flexibility of how the data from Shopify flows into the ERP system.  

For Power BI, Office, and Outlook, the integrations have similar integration functionality in the cloud and on-prem. But in the cloud, IT administrators can set up the integrations within minutes. All the Microsoft applications function seamlessly within the same Azure cloud platform tenant ID, and the Azure Active Directory automatically takes care of user-access authentication.  

For the on-prem versions of Dynamics ERP solutions, however, IT has to use the Microsoft Entra ID tool and may have to set up a virtual private network to manage access and authentication. It can take several hours to set up the initial integrations. 

Give Your User an Immersive Experience 

With the integration of Dynamics 365 Business Central and the full stack of Microsoft applications that the cloud enables, your users can quickly access data in any application—from within any application they are working. They benefit from an immersive Microsoft experience that helps them increase their productivity and respond more quickly to customer needs.  

Visit our website to learn more about Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central, and for help in migrating your on-prem ERP platform to the cloud, contact Western Computer today.  

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