A major problem encountered by many Salesforce-using business organizations is integrating their multiple IT platforms with the Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system in an effective manner. Poor integration of diverse systems with Salesforce can result in data synchronization issues that prevent a company from getting the big picture of its business and affects its ability to take the right, timely decisions.
Today, we’ll examine 5 major challenges faced by organizations in integrating their myriad of systems with Salesforce and how they can be overcome.
1. Scoping the Salesforce Integration Project Properly
Defining the scope of a Salesforce integration project in an effective manner is critical for its success. Unfortunately, many companies neglect this very important aspect, and as a consequence, suffer from poor integration of their applications with Salesforce.
This problem can be resolved by taking all stakeholders of the project into confidence and finding the right answers to the following.
What are the applications that need to be integrated with Salesforce?
Where will the master data be stored? Will it be stored in Salesforce or in any other system?
What is the data that must be mapped to complete the integration project? (more about this in a moment)
How will you facilitate synchronization of data in Salesforce with disparate systems? Salesforce supports SOAP/REST services, and hence, it’s necessary to determine whether to expose a service in Salesforce or consume external service.
How will users of the integrated applications use the data? What are the likely hurdles in ensuring hassle-free use of synchronized data and how can they be resolved?
This is not an exhaustive list but will go a long way in helping you get the right inputs to the key aspects of the integration project.
2. Mapping Data with High Levels of Efficacy
One of the key issues in ensuring effective integration of disparate applications with Salesforce is mapping data in a proper manner. Different applications use different types of fields to store data. For instance, an address stored in Salesforce may include fields containing details pertaining to street, city, state, zip code and so on, but another application may not use the same fields. In such a scenario, mapping data from an external application to Salesforce can be a very time-consuming task.
You can overcome this problem by coming up with a robust framework that allows you to map data elements in an external application to the right type of fields in Salesforce; you may also need to convert data to support relevant field types in Salesforce.
3. Eliminating Duplicate Records from the Salesforce System
Another big challenge in integrating external applications with Salesforce is duplicate records. In many cases, especially mergers and acquisitions, companies face the problem of importing duplicate records into their Salesforce system. Consider the following scenario.
A manufacturer of tires imports rubber from two vendors viz. vendor A and vendor B. Vendor A uses Salesforce and has the details of the tire company stored in the CRM system’s database. Likewise, vendor B too stores the same details of the tire manufacturing firm in its SAP CRM system. Vendor A acquires vendor B and imports the data stored in the latter’s system. This will create two identical records in vendor A’s Salesforce system, leading to data redundancy.
This problem can be resolved by using an external ID to indicate the data records imported into the Salesforce system. An external ID is a custom field that contains unique record identifiers, which enable the Salesforce system to recognize a data record imported from a non-Salesforce platform. Staying on with the above scenario, vendor A can use an external ID to distinguish the details of the tire manufacturer stored in vendor B’s SAP system from the same data stored in its Salesforce system.
4. Validating Data in an Effective Manner
Ensuring proper data validation is a key challenge while integrating the data in an application with Salesforce, especially when you integrate the data with a standard object in the CRM system. For example, to create a contact in Salesforce, you must populate the mandatory field Last Name. A record will be successfully updated only when all relevant mandatory fields are populated. All the contacts from the external system should satisfy the validation criteria to synchronize the data into Salesforce. All data validation rules pertaining to standard objects also apply to custom objects.
You should remember that some fields may be mandatory in Salesforce but optional in external systems. So, it is very essential to understand the impact of any changes done at data validation level. We suggest you come up with a comprehensive data validation framework to ensure all required mandatory fields in Salesforce are filled.
5. Choosing the Right App on Salesforce AppExchange
It is necessary to identify the right application on Salesforce AppExchange that meets your business needs, when you integrate an application with Salesforce. Choosing the right app will reduce development efforts and saves your team’s precious time. However, choosing the right app on Salesforce AppExchange for your integration project can be challenging.
You can overcome this problem by listing your requirements clearly and using them as the basis for evaluating and shortlisting various apps on Salesforce AppExchange to zero-in on the ideal fit. It is important to note apps on AppExchange are available either as managed packages or unmanaged packages. You need to remember you can make changes only to unmanaged packages and not to managed packages.
As you can see, resolving the five challenges listed above goes a long way in ensuring the successful integration of your disparate systems with Salesforce. At Solunus we help you integrate your systems with Salesforce in a highly efficient, cost-effective manner. Our rich experience working with various companies and a strong focus on understanding your data synchronization needs helps us provide the solution that delivers the best value.
Hope you found this post useful. How do you integrate your non-Salesforce applications with the CRM system? We’d love to know.
Solunus is a dedicated Salesforce partner organization, headquartered in Dallas, Texas. Our unrelenting focus on comprehending the unique needs of our clients coupled with our unrivaled expertise of the Salesforce platform enables us to deliver the perfect solutions that create the best value for IT and business analytics firms.