What is Salesforce Integration and why do customers integrate Salesforce?

Before talking about Salesforce integration, first, we need to understand what does integration means?

Integration means creating a connection between a specific Salesforce instance and another database or system. The connection could be inbound, outbound, or bi-directional, and you may be connecting to another database, another Salesforce instance, or another cloud-based data source. Integrations can be focused on sharing data between systems or continuing a business process automation from one system to another.

What is Salesforce Integration?

Salesforce integration is the process of merging the data and functionality of Salesforce with another application to provide users with a single unified experience. It allows you to provide your team with an ideal mix of features about both platforms

Salesforce users often face the issue of reconciling data between two platforms and switching between them while performing specific activities. Salesforce integration relieves them from this problem and provides them with a centralized platform to work on.

Why do customers integrate Salesforce?

Salesforce is a very powerful tool because it helps companies to create a 360-degree view of their customers and their business. Integrations with additional databases can bring even more value and information into your Salesforce environment. 

  1. Bringing External Data Into Salesforce: To expose data from an external system inside of your Salesforce environment. This approach can help establish Salesforce as the single source of truth for your company data.
  1. Referencing external data inside of Salesforce: When you want to centralize your user experience on Salesforce, but not import and manage that data inside of Salesforce. In this use case, your users can be informed and act on records from other systems, without the data management overhead of importing and managing potential data replication issues.
  1. Transform and enrich Salesforce data: In this use case, you are developing and executing complex queries on Salesforce data. With the power and flexibility of the Salesforce Platform, many customers can accomplish data transformation with fewer resource demands.
  1. Extract insights from Salesforce and external data: Consolidate your data from Salesforce and external systems for comprehensive analytics. In this use case, you may want to centralize all your data onto Salesforce and use Salesforce tools to augment and manage your data.
  1. Salesforce multi-org consolidation: Some of our customers have many Salesforce environments and want to consolidate the data for consistency across channels — and build custom apps and experiences that leverage all of their Salesforce data.
  1. Data integration/sync data across non-Salesforce systems: This use case is applicable if you have a collection of disconnected cloud and/or on-premises systems that need to share data with one another. There are data integration use cases across systems that do not include Salesforce, however, the tools we will be highlighting today will be focused on solutions for Salesforce integrations.
  1. Publish/subscribe integration model: For scalable integration patterns that will grow with your data structure, some customers leverage an event-driven architecture to integrate across their systems. When events in one system take place, other relevant systems should be able to immediately recognize those events and carry out subsequent actions, such as updating a case or restocking inventory.
  1. Third-party application needs to integrate with Salesforce environment: In this scenario, there is a business need to make your Salesforce data or processes available to external or third-party systems.

Types of Salesforce Integration

Salesforce is the most versatile tool which offers ample ways to integrate data. Currently, a few important salesforce integrations are mostly used.

  1. Batch Integration: The most common method of data integration that is suitable for less frequently changing data. It is the easiest way to implement and provide an excellent solution for processing flat files.
  1. Real-Time Integration: Real-time integration is a good match to align sales and marketing successfully. It is more adequate and less challenging to handle errors and control queues.
  1. AppExchange: There are numerous apps available in Salesforce which can be immediately installed in the Salesforce environment. They are essential in reducing time and money in proper integration and supports future enhancements.
  1. Real-Time Mashups: It needs building-up of the user interface in Visualforce to create customized UIs. They are frequently used for assessing data from external systems swiftly.

Salesforce Integration Processes

There are two major approaches to carry out the process of Salesforce integration: 

  • App-based Salesforce Integration
  • Code-based Salesforce Integration

App-based Salesforce Integration: is carried out using dedicated applications. These apps allow users to integrate the data between two apps and develop a unified platform with a few simple clicks.

To integrate your Salesforce CRM with suitable applications, you would need a robust and smooth integration platform that facilitates the seamless transfer of data between the two applications.

Code-based Salesforce Integration: is carried out with the help of a programming language. Some of the core benefits of carrying out code-based Salesforce integration include:

  • Simple to use and easy to understand language
  • Built-in support for Salesforce Lightning Platform
  • Suited for different API versions
  • The programming language can be hosted on the Lightning Platform and entirely controlled by the same

Different Ways to Integrate Salesforce

Salesforce integration can be carried out for different layers within your CRM platforms, such as:

  1. Data Integration: With data integration, you can use REST or SOAP APIs for allowing a centralized application in your organization to act as the key source of a specific business object. Such integration does not require any coding and cannot be used for implementing any custom logic.
  1. Process integration: Process integration connects apps and systems at the workflow level to implement business processes end to end. Related integration scenarios will require a complex solution that can orchestrate interactions among systems, report on, and manage process states.
  1. Security integration: merges authentication mechanisms to achieve a better user experience and minimize administration.
  1. User Interface Integration: This integration revolves around permitting users to enter different applications from a single unified platform. The approach here is similar to that of Facebook, where multiple application vendors can post content on a single platform.

Salesforce Integration Checklist

Before you go ahead with Salesforce integration, make sure you adhere to this checklist to ensure a smooth and effective integration process:

Extensive Planning: 

  • The most important aspect of Salesforce integration is developing an extensive implementation plan. Just like any other project, the integration process requires you to create a project timeline and clearly define the objectives you are willing to achieve.
  • Make sure you list down all the technical requirements for the integration along with the key goals to be achieved. 
  • Have a clear mission and vision before you start with the implementation. Make sure you identify the owner and data involved in the integrated application to be created.
  • Make sure you have a complete understanding of integration standards and practices while charting out the plan.

Understanding Both The Applications

  • It is important for a developer to understand both the applications that they are willing to integrate, one of them being a Salesforce app. 
  • To be well-versed with the apps, it is advisable to spend more time preparing the data required for integration. This would help the developer in understanding the dependency of both the applications with each other. 
  • It is also important to ensure that both applications have the same data architecture to undertake smooth and seamless integration. 
  • Make sure that APIs are enabled on both the applications and focus on API limits before going ahead with the integration process.

Understanding The Processes Involved

  • Along with the applications to be integrated, it is important to be well-versed with the processes you need to carry out using the integrated platform. This will help you provide your team with a platform that is tailor-made according to their needs and preferences. 
  • To understand the processes involved, make sure that you identify the endpoints in both applications. 
  • Check the provision for effective connection to carry out custom integration and third-party integration tool. For each of the applications involved, determine the performance of data delivery to ensure smooth and hassle-free transfer of data. 
  • To make prevent unauthorized access of data and unwanted data breaches, it is advisable to use IP Whitelisting. This would limit the users allowed to access your data and allow only trusted users to make changes to your database.

Important Considerations Before Salesforce Integration

  • Reviewing API limits for both the applications
  • Identifying the integration type (real-time or batch integration)
  • Monitoring authentication of the system
  • Creating custom API to call third-party APIs for necessary additional data
  • Understanding configuration options available
  • Being aware of the information not to be transferred between the two platforms

Salesforce integration allows developers to enhance the functionality of Salesforce and help users save their time and efforts in using tools about different platforms. Whenever you plan to go ahead with Salesforce integration, it is always advisable to take the help of integration experts to obtain the best results.

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