By Henning Lund - August 14, 2018
Salesforce is used by businesses around the world to connect better with their customers and grow. The Salesforce team has always been committed to making it easy for businesses to integrate Salesforce with other applications. They even have their own AppExchange, where customers can buy certified add-ons for Salesforce.
The Salesforce API is often used to create integrations between Salesforce and ERP systems, particularly Microsoft Dynamics. Such an integration means that you can see all your customer data in one place, including order history, credit status and all their interactions with your sales team. Your sales team can proactively develop relationships with customers much more easily when they have all this information in one place. For example, they might want to contact a customer at a time of year when they know they usually buy and see if they want to repeat that order. They can then make sure, via the Salesforce ERP integration, that there’ll be enough stock in place to fulfill that order, and any others they’ve encouraged customers to make.
There are two ways to set up a Salesforce ERP integration. You can build a custom integration,
or use a data integration platform that comes ready-to-use.
If you have your own in-house development team, or can find a reliable tech partner, it might
seem as if a custom integration is the obvious choice. But it could be that an off-the-shelf data
integration platform suits your business better.
There are pros and cons, and risks and benefits, of both approaches. Here, we take a look at
both to help you decide what’s right for you, your business and your team.
The most appealing reason to set up a custom integration is that it’ll be built for you, so you can make sure it meets your needs exactly. It’s hard to see, at least at first glance, how an off-the-shelf solution could compete.
In reality, though, a good data integration platform will have plenty of customizable elements, as our own RapidiOnline does. If the platform you’re looking at doesn’t, look elsewhere. Most businesses will be able to find a data integration platform that can do what they need just as well as a custom integration.
Then there’s cost to think about. Budgets are never unlimited, so this is important. It’s also not an easy thing to evaluate. A custom integration will usually cost more to set up than buying a platform will, as you’ll need to build everything from scratch. At the same time, the custom integration might be cheaper to maintain in the longer-term. As they’re built for you, and already meet your needs exactly, custom integrations can often need less maintenance.
Often, but not always. It’s difficult to properly evaluate this at the beginning of the process, but you’ll often find that you need more maintenance than you think, as your business needs change. And as business needs can change in very unexpected ways, don’t bank on maintenance costs being lower. It’s a maybe, not a given.
Custom integrations can also fall down on additional functionality, for similar reasons. As your business grows and changes, you might find that you need more functionality for scheduling, error-handling or monitoring, for example. Data integration platforms usually have these built in, custom integrations generally do not. If you anticipate that you might need these things, then you could build them in to your custom integration. This will, though, come at an extra cost. If you find you need things that you haven’t anticipated needing, you won’t have done this and you could find that costs spiral.
Data integration platforms are a neat solution to most of the problems associated with custom integrations. That’s largely down to the expertise involved. We’ve spent years developing RapidiOnline, and so the platform has all that learned best practice built in.
In the early days of data integration, a custom solution was often better, simply because all of us in the sector were still finding our way. Now, though, data integration platforms are generally more robust, easier to use and faster to set up than custom integrations. They’re better at meeting the needs of most businesses.
It’s hard to set up a custom integration that takes advantage of all that learned knowledge and experience, because it means starting again at the beginning. RapidiOnline is designed to make connecting data integration points easy, with every detail thought through. It’s really hard to replicate that in a custom integration.
What is it that makes RapidiOnline work so smoothly? It includes several pre-configured templates designed to make sure that it works for common integrations as soon as you take it out of the box. You might find that you want to make some changes, but you can get it set up and working straight away.
RapidiOnline comes with a pre-configured template to integrate Salesforce with Microsoft Dynamics AX, NAV and GP. If you want another integration, we can help you develop it as an add-on, but you’ve got the basics there without having to do anything extra.
These pre-configured points will help you:
Undoubtedly, yes, if you use a data integration platform. Data integration platforms have evolved considerably in the past few years. If you’re coming at this with older knowledge, remember that things have changed.
You might also find it easy with a custom approach, but it’s a rare business that will find it easier
to go custom than to use a platform.
Still unsure, or just want to have a chat about your options? Give us a call to talk through.