With the increasing demand for new technology and the growing needs of businesses, most organizations cannot avoid some kind of integration with a 3rd party application. For our Dynamics 365 clients, we've built numerous integrations for organizations. These integrations have ranged from data based to functional based. However, integrating with a 3rd party always comes with its challenges. The main challenge I want to focus on in this topic is how to ensure integrations with 3rd parties run smoothly, even as the 3rd party application continues to evolve.
Tip 1: Understanding authentication expiration dates
In order to integrate between 2 applications, there are usually going to be credentials required. Whether these are application based credentials, user based credentials or token based, they likely have some kind of expiration date tied to them. It's important to understand what that expiration is and for your team to have a plan in place to reset those credentials before they expire. Depending on the type of authentication needed and the policies in place, you could automate this. One way that you could do this is using Microsoft Flow, which allows power users to build workflows that integrate a diverse set of apps and services.
Tip 2: Knowing when updates to the 3rd party application will impact your integration
Many vendors have distribution lists that your team can request to be added to when changes are coming that could impact your solution. For example, as a Microsoft partner, we (and our clients) have received email notifications when authentication changes are being made to Dynamics 365 or when components are being deprecated. This gives our team sufficient time to plan ahead and prepare for any updates necessary to integrations that may be tied to those components. Reach out to the 3rd party and request that your team be added to the notification list.
Tip 3: Catching errors caused by undocumented changes
In a "perfect" world, we would be notified any time a change is made to any component that would impact an integration. Since we don't live in this kind of world, every integration admin should consider creating their own process to monitor for issues that need to be addressed based on severity level. How this is done is entirely dependent on how the integration was built and the technologies available to your team. One example is that you could create unit tests of your integration and execute these on a recurring schedule within an Azure function app or Microsoft Flow. These unit tests can catch failures that ideally, will be caught before end users see them and which can be emailed to your support team to begin remediation.
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