There is no doubt that Salesforce plays a crucial role in many businesses' strategies, therefore any Salesforce data integrations need to be meticulously executed to capitalize on the benefits through the use of the CRM system. There are the numerous ways you can integrate data from external systems into Salesforce. When you get down to the actual work of integration, there are a few key factors that you need to acknowledge in order to avoid major pitfalls and to ensure the business is capable of the flex it needs to succeed.
Why is understanding your approach to integrating your external systems into Salesforce seen as so important? As insurance claims company, Sedgewick Repair Solutions, recently commented:
"We need to make sure that everyone's kept informed at the right time so that things move forward ... and give information to help us (clients and partners) be more efficient and operate in a more structured way."
The Challenge of Integrating Legacy Applications
When planning an integration project, the first point is not to go the old-fashioned route of manual coding. Understanding the technical issues of legacy applications, some of which may be more than ten years old, can be hard enough without having to worry about how to code the byzantine rules that have been built into the application over the years. Writing your own integration code requires a high level of technical skills, which can be costly. Furthermore, with legacy application integration it is not easy to estimate the time required to do the work.
A more straightforward, cost-effective and faster approach is to use a Hybrid Integration Platform (HIP) that automates the data integration process and has out-of-box components that allow you to easily integrate with applications and data sources. There are unique data integration challenges associated with the Salesforce platform which a HIP like Synatic is also able to address.
Before getting to the integration stage, there needs to be some data preparation. The prime concern here is fixing data quality. Making sure data is clean first and following a standard format across your data, reduces the amount of error checking work that the integration platform needs to do. Reducing this work improves the scalability and the performance of the integration platform.
Business Rules and Data Mapping
Getting data from legacy software and mapping it to the appropriate Salesforce object gets more complicated the older the legacy software is. In many Salesforce integration projects where legacy applications are involved, lack of documentation and unclear business rules are common. Many companies are unaware of the intricacies of their business's rules until they have to digitize them. In the manual coding approach, this would require a major re-examination of the code required. With a HIP, the process re-engineering and error handling changes can be done iteratively and more quickly.
Synatic has developed several best practices for use in Salesforce integration projects.
For importing data into Salesforce, the Bulk Data Version 2 API offers more options for processing data and allows larger batches of data (up to 10,000 records or one million characters in CSV format). By using Synatic's Array function, large volumes of data can be loaded and manipulated within an array without touching the Salesforce interface. Synatic allows the build out of an array of data from the legacy through look-ups and other validation procedures, without needing to read data from Salesforce. This is effectively a 3D view of the data as opposed to a 2D column/row view that typically comes out of a legacy solution. Passing an array to the Bulk Data Version 2 API registers as one record, even though the array itself may contain 1000 records. In a manual coding project which might use the Postman API platform, this kind of validation would require performing complex HTTP requests.
To get data from Salesforce, the Salesforce Platform Event function allows you to create a custom-defined data payload for near real-time changes in Salesforce, or an external system. If an account is created, updated or deleted within Salesforce, a Platform Event can be used to send that message to a Synatic platform for processing.
A typical use case of this solution is modernizing a legacy Rocket Universe or DB2 database. The traditional approach would be to write custom-code at a high cost to do the integration. With Synatic's integration platform you can extract the data using an ODBC extract, manipulate the data and push it into Synatic’s data warehouse, and then integrate this data into the required destination application. Making managing your data modernization process quicker and less costly.
In an integration project there may be unknown unknowns, such as undocumented business rules that no one knows about. This can re-define some requirements of the project and lead to scope creep.
For the waterfall approach used in many integration projects, the client would only see what has been done at the testing phase. Then the user expectations could be assessed and when discrepancies arose so change requests (in other words, scope creep) would be created. The waterfall process of “plan, design, build, test, deliver,” works in construction but not as well for integrating systems.
By using a HIP for integration, the agile methodology can be leveraged because its emphasis on collaboration and short delivery cycles is easily accommodated using a low-code platform like a HIP. The collaboration aspect is especially important as the client should be involved almost on a daily basis at stand-up meetings to learn the status of the project. Discrepancies that create scope creep can be identified quickly and addressed, and the client is made aware early on of project issues. Decisions and changes don't have to wait for a certain stage, instead they can be implemented in a kaizen (continuous improvement) process.
How an Integration Platform Streamlines Data Integration
Integrating other applications with Salesforce is a growing business requirement. As noted by Sedgewick who works with many companies worldwide:
"It’s about how we integrate applications that makes it easier for them to gather information and give us visibility as to what's going on."
To streamline integration projects in a fast-moving world requires a platform, and approach, that does not let a project go in the wrong direction and waste valuable time. Synatic does this by making the integration work more agile through the use of standard components and an interface that makes integration easier. If you want a Hybrid Integration Platform that nimbly ensures the right data gets to the right person at the right time, look no further than Synatic.