Let’s say that you just started as the new IT guru for a local manufacturer. This manufacturer has Microsoft Dynamics GP and three separate sales channels:
- An internal sales force that sells to wholesale customers
- A POS system (Microsoft Dynamics RMS) for their ten physical stores where they sell to consumers
- A website (powered by an eCommerce solution like Magento) where they sell to everyone
The owner wants the ability to have one place to go to set prices for all locations whether the item is sold on the web, in stores or wholesale. Meanwhile your marketing manager wants a single place to update marketing information to be sold on the web but the retail stores are complaining that marketing’s extra-long product names (that work fine on the web) do not fit on their 40 character wide POS receipts. What you have is a “multi-master” problem. The question is: how do you solve it and still keep everyone happy?
Why Integrating Dynamics GP and Dynamics RMS Isnt Enough
Although you may have the ability to share product data between systems, integration alone is typically not enough. First of all, one system is always overwriting the other’s data. Second, anything beyond simple integration from point A to point B is difficult to accomplish. For example, if you need to assign complex categories or HTML to multiple sales channels, neither GP nor RMS has an easy way to assign, track or manage those values.
Item Management Using Mastering
Designating a single location for a specific piece of information is called mastering or, more specifically in this case, item mastering. To execute this strategy in this scenario, you need to master price in one system and marketing information in another. The same concept holds true for any piece of information.
Depending on the user and the nature of the data, there are several places where you can master your data: Microsoft Dynamics GP, Microsoft Dynamics RMS, your eCommerce platform or nChannels multi-channel management platform. The choice will be based on the functionality available in each system and who has access. For example, RMS has only one description column and no true HTML description columns, so you may want to master all item data in RMS except for descriptions, which would be mastered in nChannel or your eCommerce site. Or if youd rather master items in GP, the lack of good categorization and more complex pricing forms may lead you to master those pieces of data in nChannel.
Using nChannel to Manage Data
In order to make this work, once you determine the right place to master each piece of data, you must be able to syndicate it, or push it out, from the mastering system to each of your other systems. As a multi-channel management (MCM) system, nChannel can help you manage this orchestration by connecting your disparate systems. In addition to its integration capabilities, the nChannel Platform also provides visibility into your data so you can monitor and track how data is moving throughout your enterprise.
With this flexibility, you as the new IT guru will meet the needs of each department, can handle changes with a few clicks of your mouse, and will certainly impress the owner. Thats what I call job security!