What happened to UPS WorldShip in Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations?!
Since the days of AX2009, many companies have relied on the simplicity of the ‘Ship Carrier Interface’ to integrate their small parcel carrier’s on-site software (e.g. UPS WorldShip® or FedEX Ship Manager®). The logic built inside of AX placed the data in the Ship Carrier Interface tables, allowing the carrier software to grab the information via simple ODBC maps, which were maintained within the carrier software. Life was simple (after the initial setup). With many companies moving to the cloud with Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations, this interaction is no longer simple. In fact, many companies are surprised to hear that this functionality, which they relied upon heavily for almost 10 years, is gone. (Deprecated, in official terms.) The reason is technical– the carrier software relies on an ODBC connection. This connection relies on both databases, the carrier software and the business data, being able to ‘see’ each other. Trouble is, the business data is now hidden in the cloud. Because the data is now separated, ODBC no longer works. An AX-savvy developer will look in Visual Studio and see the tables for the Ship Carrier Interface are still there, but hidden; deprecated, but not fully removed. There is hope. Open these entities and the developer will find emptiness– no fields, no queries, no methods…nothing. What now? How will the business function? Most importantly– how will the warehouse staff react when they learn the functionality is gone and they’ll have to enter all these shipments manually?
There’s always room for a new approach!
Fear not! Both UPS WorldShip® and FedEX Ship Manager® have other import options, although they require a larger development effort than previous shipping integrations. Note: The information below uses examples from UPS WorldShip®; however, FedEX Ship Manager® has similar functionality. Most AX customers used the ‘Keyed Import’ in conjunction with the ODBC map. As explained above, this is no longer an option in D365FO, leaving two options:
- Option 1) The ‘Batch Import’ essentially replaces the ODBC connection to AX. Periodically, UPS WorldShip® will execute the batch and read an export from D365FO that can be in several formats including: csv, xml, xls, Access and others. For a complete list and help building a new map, on the ribbon in UPS WorldShip®, select Tools → Connection Assistant. FedEX Ship Manager ® has a similar function. From there, the user will select the ‘Keyed Import’ process to select only the desired shipments. At this point the process would act as before.
- Option 2) An alternative is the ‘Automatic Import.’ In this option, the shipment is processed in D365FO and all details are sent to UPS WorldShip®. This process can create other issues because all the data required for a shipment (size, weight, shipment and package options) are automatically passed into the carrier software via customized fields. Both UPS WorldShip® and FedEX Ship Manager® are smart enough to save shipments with errors into an errors queue, where the user can correct the data and process the shipment. This option is still a huge time-saver compared to manually entering a shipment.
Write back of costs and tracking info
The Ship Carrier Interface also provided an easy way to write data back to AX from the carrier software including costs and tracking information. This too was managed via the now defunct ODBC connection. Included with Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations are data entities that can be used to import this data. Configure the carrier software to export the required data and then read that data into Dynamics 365 using these entities. Moving to the cloud can bring added complexity to software integrations. Perhaps over time, small package carriers will make changes to their software to better accommodate these changes. For more information or help in configuring your Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations installation to import and export data to UPS WorldShip® or FedEX Ship Manager®, contact us at [email protected]. UPS WorldShip® and FedEX Ship Manager® are trademarks of UPS and FedEx respectively. Use of them does not imply any affiliation with or endorsement by them.