Integration Week '24

A headshot for Jay Mehta, Prolocity's PROserve Essential lead

Jay Mehta
PROserve Essentials Lead

Spring is here, and with that often comes a desire to streamline internal operations and processes by integrating systems with Salesforce. Among our non-profit clients, this often means pushing donation data into Salesforce, or pulling data from an external database like a client service platform. For profit customers often need to pull data from an ERP system or sales and quoting system. In both cases, it's not uncommon to need to pull data from an accounting system like QuickBooks.

This week, we're looking at common integration strategies, ordered roughly in least-to-most complicated and expensive. At the end the week, you'll have a better idea of common ways to meet your integration challenges. If you want to know more, reach out–we're happy to help!

Considerations for Designing Salesforce Integrations

There are a few things you'll want to think about when figuring out your integration strategy.

Determine your endpoints (the source and destination systems)

The first thing you need to figure out is the total collection of systems you need to integrate. These are often called endpoints in product documentation. An integration with only two endpoints (like pushing data from a donation tool into Salesforce) is significantly less complicated than one with even just a third endpoint (like taking that same data after it reaches Salesforce and then pushing it to an accounting package). Before getting too far down the line, mapping out the set of endpoints is a crucial first step. The more complicated the integration, and the more endpoints, the more likely you are to need to use a tool, Flow, or custom code.

Determine what data you need to push between systems, and in what direction(s)

After mapping out your endpoints, the next step is to identify the fields in each system that need to be connected. Part of this exercise is simple logistics–if a field exists on one endpoint, there needs to be a matching place for it to go on the other end. You'll also want to check that there's agreement in things like data types–if you have a value in an external system that is a text value, but the Salesforce field is a picklist, you'll need a way to control for that.

Also key in this step is determining which ways the data flows between systems. A one-direction integration (from the external system to Salesforce, or vice versa) is usually significantly less complicated than a bi-directional integration (although a package designed to handle it may make it not nearly as complicated). Note that this may be a chance to simplify your business processes–instructing users to update data in only one system so that you can make an integration uni-directional may both make your integration easier and reduce user confusion over the correct process.

Determine your budget and ability to support the process

This is an important and often overlooked part of prep. Being realistic about your organization's budget and technical know-how on supporting an integration is a vital component of long-term strategy. For orgs that do not have dedicate admins or developers, manual import or AppExchange packages are likely better approaches. Orgs that have admins may consider a tool like Zapier or custom Flow. For the most demanding and sophisticated orgs, with full-time developers, custom code is the most flexible–but costliest to build and maintain.

Document, Document, Document!

No matter which path you choose, document what you do, both for the sake of users who have to perform the necessary functions, and for future reference for potential impacts that changes may have on your integrations. For example, if you set up an AppExchange package that requires a Salesforce user account, you'll want to make sure you know that that account can't be deactivated to free up a license for another user.

Have questions or want to brainstorm?

Feel free to join us for our PROserve Office Hours. We hold them twice a month and they're a free benefit of PROserve membership. Grab a slot here: