Importing data via web services is quickly becoming the best way to create new integrations due to the fact that integration is possible with systems in a different location, on a different operating system, or written in a different programming language-or even all three simultaneously.

For those that don’t have the patience, staff or experience with XML-there are the trusty data import tools.  Unlike web services, these tools only work one-way.   You can import data into your accounting/ERP system with them.

Here in Minnesota, we offer the two most mainstream Microsoft ERP products (in terms of number of US organizations using).  So let’s look at the differences between these two products’ import tools-Dynamics GP (formerly Great Plains) and Dynamics SL (formerly Solomon).

Let’s start with Dynamics GP.  This tool brings with it a powerful ability for people with limited experience to import data.  There is an easy user-interface that makes data importing manageable for a reasonably persistent and curious accountant-no IT help required.

While there is a cost to the GP Integration Manager module, you can use it to import most of the critical items you need to import data on a routine basis-new vendors, vouchers, customers, customer invoices, sales orders, purchase orders—anything commonly needed to be imported.

Let’s take a look at Dynamics SL now.  The chief benefits here are that you can import data into literally every data entry screen in the software.  The other benefit is that there is no additional cost.

To be fair, for the Dynamics GP software there is a free Integration Manager for Conversions Module that allows importing transactions from your prior system for a limited time.  This allows you to get your old data converted so that you don’t have to re-key that data.

So if you are considering a purchase of either product based on the “do-it-yourself” model and have limited support with XML and web services-hopefully this was helpful.