Last week Friday, we received a short message which made us super excited. It came from Microsoft and said: "Congratulations! Your offer 'just plan it 365' has been successfully published and is available publicly." What does this mean? Well, it means that we developed an "app" which we call just plan it 365 and that this app got validated and published on the Microsoft AppSource. With this app we achieve a direct integration between just plan it and Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central. Hence, this app brings an easy and visual production scheduling to any Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central customer.
The value of integrating just plan it with an ERP system
From working with many of our customers, we learned that an integration of just plan it with our clients' (ERP) systems yields a significant value:
- It eases the creation of new jobs (production orders) in just plan it.
- It adds a seamless production scheduling capability to the clients' ERP systems - something that often is missing (especially if the customers pursue a typical make-to-order business).
- As such, it becomes a natural element of the customer's day-to-day processes and a major facilitator of gaining operational agility.
So far, we achieved these integrations either via our Excel interface or by building custom integrations into the respective ERP systems that our customers work with.
Why integrating with Dynamics 365 Business Central
Over the past couple of years, we observed Microsoft regaining strength and putting more and more emphasis on their offerings geared towards SMB organizations. Hence, when they launched Dynamics 365 Business Central earlier this year, we decided to take a closer look. Dynamics 365 Business Central is an all-in-one business management solution that's easy to use and adapt, helping customers to connect their business and make smarter decisions.
However, its manufacturing functionality does not seem to be tailored towards the scheduling requirements of volatile high-mix low-volume producers such as job shops and machine shops, whereas all other standard Business Central functions are ideal for these type of companies. Hence, we saw a general fit between the typical Dynamics 365 Business Central user and our visual production scheduling customers.
Consequently, we have been working on a direct integration between Business Central and just plan ... to bring an easy production scheduling to Dynamics 365 Business Central users and to help them close a functional gap within their system.
The just plan it 365 app
We learned that such kind of integration only would work by use developing something that Microsoft calls an "add-on app" and that needs get published on Microsoft AppSource - after an intense technical and Marketing validation process.
As of now, the just plan it 365 app is available on AppSource. It integrates the Business Central software with the just plan it software and is made for those manufacturing companies, for which the Business Central Premium manufacturing is too sophisticated. It brings easy production scheduling to Business Central Essential customers.
What's next ... more integrations?
As next step we want to collect insights and experiences from having a direct integration into a cloud-oriented ERP system that is made for small and mid-sized organizations. Based on the lessons learned we might replicate this direct integration for other systems as well. Sage, Business One, NetSuite, E2 Shoptech or even Quickbooks would be "natural suspects" to pursue at some point in the future.
However, as long as we just gather this experience, we are happy to work directly with our customers in helping them integrating their respective (ERP) system with just plan it. We are currently building some new general integration capabilities that will make this integration easier for us.
Stay tuned for more to come: we'll reveal more about enhanced integration capabilities in January.