SharePoint 2013 Guidance For Accessing Back-End System Data With BCS

Version:  SharePoint & BCS 2013

There are times when requirements dictate that data from the back-end ERP System or database repository should be included in a list, library or web part within the SharePoint environment. We don’t need to re-create the data source; rather, simply provide visibility to it for use in filtering, sorting, workflows and business processes within SharePoint.

The implementation of BCS requires thorough planning and engagement of all primary and secondary stakeholders as needed. At a minimum, the Dev/Test and Production environments should be available and consistent with each other in architecture, updates, etc.

Review Usage of Data Within SharePoint

Prior to proceeding, verify usage of the data within the SharePoint environment. The ability to view, edit and update an external column type within a list, library or web part is limited. If users expect to use the Datasheet Mode for editing of the external column type, then the products should be reviewed and trial tested. Alleged as of this writing, the Bulk Edit product is to provide editing of external columns.

Identify whether the external column type will be used to create an external list within the environment OR if it will be used as a column within a list or library.

After the expected user experience has been tested and is sufficient for the end users, then proceed with the next steps.

Production Freeze

If the timing is such that there will be a delay, extend the project duration and communicate to all stakeholders as needed to set/reset expectations.

IT Policy & Setup

It is solid strategy and practice to perform all configurations and testing in the Dev/Test environment first. Give yourself an appropriate level of time based on your environment.

If a backup of Production to Dev/Test is require, allow time for that task.

If updates are required to get the Dev/Test and Production environments levelset, allow time for that task.

If one (1) or more virtual/servers are required, allow time for that task.


The proper documentation of all configuration steps in black & white is needed for future use by the SharePoint Team, Database Team, etc. To verify completeness, the staff performing the production implementation should be other than those who performed the Dev/Test tasks.

Content Types

Regardless of the content type used within the list or library, the external column must be implemented for each respective site, be added at the base of the list or library and set to inherit into the base content type being used. Sounds simple enough.

Time & Duration

If this is the first BCS configured by your team and engaged stakeholders, allow for approximately 20 – 40 hours of effort; likewise, allow 20 – 40 days for duration.


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