Not-For-Profit organizations often face challenges retaining and engaging donors in a way that provides the capital necessary to successfully execute their mission statements. This requires CRM solutions, such as Dynamics 365 CE, in partner with event management software, such as Cvent, to manage contacts and handle event registration efficiently. These solutions also have the capability of managing invoicing and payment for event registration which leads to overlap in services with their Accounting Systems. Because OOTB (out-of-the-box) integration between event solutions and accounting systems is rare, many NFPs are forced into double entry that rob accountants of time they could be using more productively. Such double entry also impacts real time reporting accuracy.
RSM has become a leader in designing custom integrations for clients across every industry. With so many Not-For-Profit organizations moving to D365 Customer Engagement and Business Central, RSM’s leadership has put an emphasis within the D365 practice on developing solutions that make automation not only possible, but affordable for NFPs, allowing them to use their time to accomplish the important work they should be focusing on. The question is, how can we connect these siloed systems and what are best practices within the Not-For-Profit industry in doing so?
Identify your Needs
Before engaging with your D365 partner and event management solution, it’s important to meet internally to identify your needs. What type of information in our event management system do we need migrated to our accounting system? The answer should always include Customers and Contacts and, depending on requirements, likely includes Registration invoices/cancellations and payments. It could also include event specific information that correctly tags entries for G/L reporting. Knowing what you need before you get on the phone will save you discovery time now and headaches later if something that was previously out of scope, is revealed to be required.
Clean up your Contacts
Now that you know what you need, it helps to cleanse the EMS system of unnecessary data/duplicate information. We may have hundreds of thousands of contacts in the system but many of them may be duplicates and some may not exist at all. To save time and flooding your accounting system with unnecessary contacts, having an internal resource focus on cleaning up your contact list is a great idea. Hey Interns!
Know your Options
With D365 Business Central, the first questions asked to 3rd Parties are always the same.
- Do you have API capability? Most event management solutions have APIs available for querying, but API’s contain limited information which may exclude data your NFP needs in the accounting system. Which leads to our next question.
- Can you provide us with your API documentation? Reviewing API details to confirm all required information is present is important before we commit to using APIs. Requesting new field availability is rarely turned around quickly and often not included until future releases. If the APIs don’t give us everything we need, we likely need to pivot to an alternative data source.
- Do you have an SMTP site we can use? When API’s let us down, there are other options. Using SMTP sites, the EMS provider can easily drop a report/file into a secured location. Utilizing PowerApps, your partner can build your integration to retrieve that file and import the contents into your accounting system with no additional work on your end. This solution is used most frequently in the NFP space due to how complex each individual NFP is and how limited APIs can be.
Engage your Partner
Now that you know what you need and how to get it, you’ve positioned your project for success and saved yourself weeks of discovery. Relay the information you’ve gathered to your partner, and they can quickly provide you with an accurate estimate. What could have been a 4-month project can now be accomplished in half the time.