Data silos, decision-making delays, and collaboration issues are common in businesses where systems are not integrated properly. This not only impacts an organization's productivity but also slows down a firm's growth potential.
As per Mulesoft’s 2020 Connectivity Benchmark Report, 85% of IT companies admitted that integration challenges slowed their digital transformation.
To overcome data silos and have an effortless integration, Salesforce can be a great choice for businesses. You can connect Salesforce with your day-to-day work apps like Excel, Word, Payroll Software, as well as with other on-premise/cloud apps ( including ERPs) using the platform's low-code development architecture. With integration, you will be able to access external apps, resources, and information to have greater visibility of your operations.
Salesforce Integration helps every business aspect-from sales and marketing to customer service. If your target is to improve marketing operations, then by integrating Salesforce Marketing Cloud with your main system, you can leverage built-in marketing tools like Journey Builder, Social Studio, App Studio, Email Studio, etc. Similarly, you can integrate data from third-party apps and legacy solutions in Salesforce for better visualization.
Which Platform to Choose for Salesforce Integration?
To integrate apps with Salesforce, you would need an integration platform like Mulesoft. You can also rely on Jitter, Informatica, and others, however, Mulesoft is the best in our experience. On Mulesoft, you can design processes, create custom APIs (which sends a system with requests on what a user wants to do), integrate application, device, and data seamlessly for a connected customer experience.
Possible Methods to Integrate With Salesforce
Depending on your integration requirements, you can opt for any of the below ways to integrate with Salesforce:
User Interface Integration
Integrating UI with Salesforce will allow users a direct entry into multiple applications from a single platform. This prevents the need for repetitive sign-ins and application switches — saving users’ time and boosting organizational efficiency.
Business Logic Integration
Business logic integration empowers Salesforce Integration Partners to complete the process in a quick time frame. If you are already using Salesforce and wish to have the same business logic in another application of yours, surely you can achieve that by utilizing Apex web services and Apex callouts in the right way.
If data synchronization is what you are looking for, then you need to go for data integration methods. Salesforce Integration Consultants generally make use of SOAP and REST APIs to synchronize data across applications.
Don't forget to check out: 5 Strategies for Improving Customer Relationships Using Salesforce Integration
Types of Salesforce Integration
Salesforce is a versatile tool that offers you numerous ways to integrate enterprise data. Some of the important ones being:
This is the most widely used method to integrate data in Salesforce. Since data is sent in batches, the process is usually quite fast. Batch integration would be more suitable if your system data is dynamic rather than static.
Real-time integration is a great way to improve data collaboration in your organization. With this method, you can connect different applications and databases in such a way that if there are changes in one system, then those changes are updated in other systems as well.
Salesforce allows you to build and integrate custom applications. While developing custom solutions requires huge time and monetary investment, integrating AppExchange solutions is highly time and cost-effective. Instead of developing standalone apps, Salesforce Integration Partners prefer integrating/customizing apps available on Salesforce’s official app marketplace “AppExchange”.
Real-time mashups require building a UI in Visualforce, Salesforce’s framework for custom UI development. These real-time mashups are often needed when you require immediate access to external data. From creating custom UI’s and customizing existing UI to writing callouts to retrieve data in external systems, you can do much more with this method.
Popular Salesforce Integration Patterns
There are various integration patterns you can use to align enterprise data across apps in Salesforce. Before you choose a pattern, make sure you are aware of data structure, storage bandwidth, complexity, and other factors. Below are the five most popular ones for your consideration:
Simple Migration Pattern
In a simple migration pattern, the data is transferred on a one-to-one basis from external apps to Salesforce. You can use this pattern to migrate data from legacy applications, consolidate CRM systems, and backup customer master datasets. The most important aspect behind using this pattern for integration is that it immunes data from the tools that create it, allowing it to be reused for multiple systems.
A broadcast pattern is a one-to-many data migration where data transfer occurs from a single-source system to multiple systems on a real-time basis. It is suitable for use cases involving data synchronization between diverse platforms like Salesforce, SAP, and Dynamics. The benefit of using this pattern for integration is that here data transfer happens immediately between systems allowing users to carry out tasks without any delays.
In an aggregation pattern, data is extracted from multiple systems and then merged with a single system. You may need formatting/data restructuring if the data is not correctly represented. Using this method, you can easily keep yourself updated while avoiding any possible duplications.
Two-Way Sync Pattern
The two-way sync pattern (also called a bi-directional integration pattern) is used by Salesforce Integration Services partners that require bi-directional synchronization and updation between systems. So if you have to make changes in the customer’s shipping address in the ERP system and Salesforce, then a single change would be sufficient to reflect those updates in both systems.
The correlation pattern is quite similar to the two-way synchronization pattern however with an exception. It intersects two data sets and is bi-directional only if data objects naturally occur in systems. This pattern is used when there are two groups/systems involved in data sharing and both have records representing the same items in reality.
Mistakes to Avoid While Going For Salesforce Integration
Most mistakes happen due to a lack of awareness and expertise. Make sure you keep a note of the below considerations so that you don't encounter roadblocks during Salesforce integration.
Not Having a Clear Scope in Mind
Many organizations fail to define their project scope and objectives. Don't fall in that lane, rather identify your goals, involve Salesforce Integration Consultant, and discuss everything from design to data structure aspects.
Active Workflows and Triggers
Before starting the integration process, you should be aware of all the active workflows and triggers and must identify the ones that need to be disabled. Not disabling certain workflows can cause disruption in work and create a situation of confusion among team members.
Missing Cleanup Activities
While you migrate data from external systems to Salesforce, there are chances of data duplication or mismatch. To prevent this, consider removing outdated data with cleanup activities right after you integrate data into your main system.
Mapping Data Fields Improperly
Another common issue faced by organizations while integrating Salesforce with enterprise apps is improper data mapping which happens usually when there is a mismatch between data field and type. To overcome such issues, make sure you map the right fields as per data structure.
No Document Documentation
Do ensure your Salesforce Integration Partner maintains digital documentation of every integration activity. This becomes crucial when you plan to customize or alter your system components at later stages.
Not Following Proper System Architecture
Selecting the right system architecture is a crucial yet most ignored practice of businesses that often costs them highly in both monetary and time-based aspects. Do check with your Salesforce Integration partner if your project requires custom development or it can be integrated using the configuration of Force.com.
To overcome data silos, synchronization issues, repetitive sign-ins, and collaboration difficulties at work, Salesforce integration is the way to go forward. While integration is crucial to improve data accessibility, the process can be complex at times. Some systems will integrate with a few clicks, while others will require customization, API development, and hence can be complex. By keeping a note of the above-listed patterns, methods, considerations, and availing the right Salesforce Integration Services, you can overcome various issues that are derailing your digital transformation.