You’ve waited long enough. Now is the time. You attended the meetings. You drew up the business case. You received approval. You’re ready to begin your Salesforce and Microsoft Dynamics integration project. Fantastic! Where do you go from here?
Take a look at 7 ways you can prepare for an efficient integration from beginning to end:
- Designate a Product Champion for Both Salesforce and Microsoft Dynamics
This step is critical and will set you up for success across every additional best practice we discuss. Successful integration projects have someone on each side who are true advocates for Salesforce and Dynamics. They understand the processes, know where the data lives and can explain why the system is built the way it is.
These advocates must communicate before the project begins and throughout the integration. For example, Field XYZ often won’t match object ABC. A champion on each side creates the bridge necessary to ensure the integration is configured to bring the two together.
- Understand Your Data!
You have champions on both sides of the integration. Now it’s imperative you have a strong understanding of where your data lives, how it’s structured and the data model overall. The same data points are often stored differently in one system versus another and can live in separate tables, depending on how each platform was configured.
For example, you may have 28 products with multiple product lines under each. You need to know which item number the ERP is looking for, plus, the ERP specific item number may live in a different location than it does in Salesforce.
Addresses are another common scenario. Salesforce stores all address data in one field. You should be prepared on how to segment the data to properly match-up the address with your ERP.
Let’s also not forget character limitations. Understanding how these impact records on both sides is critical in proactively avoiding integration errors.
- Prepare Your Customizations for Integration
Standard objects versus custom entities, it doesn’t matter – SmartConnect can integrate all of them. There are, however, steps you can take ahead of time to save time and money once the project begins.
- Ensure all calculated fields in Salesforce are not set as read-only. If they are, Salesforce does not allow them to be updated through integration.
- Salesforce and your Dynamics ERP may have different order numbers for the same order. These need to match to ensure Salesforce is updated when products ship, invoices are paid, items renew, etc.
- Confirm each entity in Salesforce has an external ID field. Each entity/table in Salesforce can be specified as an external ID or key field. This decreases the complexity of the integration and expediates the implementation because it’s much easier to identify the correct record to create or update.
- Define Success to You in Detail
Determining the outcome of your integration is often the easy part. You should also define how you’re going to get there with a full understanding of your organization’s business rules and the business processes that will be impacted by the integration. A common best practice is to identify the impact each integration will have on your employees’ workflow then make plans to build or alter your business processes to flow with the integration. If the integration is built for closed won opportunities to trigger orders which create invoices, allowing someone to create an order in the middle won’t facilitate success.
Be prepared to blend the flexibility and customization of Salesforce with the process-driven focus of your Dynamics ERP. Which integrations will be bi-directional, and which will be one-way?
Decide who will control specific data points and which teams will own each process. Outline the steps that need to be taken to marry the two worlds together and ensure your business workflows match your integration.
- Be Prepared for Salesforce API Limitations
Before starting your integration, you should be aware of two specific limitations around working with Salesforce’s API.
- Salesforce imposes a limit to the number of daily API calls on your account. The limit can be increased so it’s best to identify your license’s maximum ahead of time. This prevents delays during the implementation especially when you’re looking to accomplish an initial data sync by importing years of historical data.
- The Salesforce API also allows you to only pull data three levels deep at one time (i.e. opportunity to opportunity line to product). Any deeper data may require an additional custom entity to be made available for integration. This is a key point when relating back to your product champion and truly understanding your data.
- Maximize Your Integration Solution
You invested in an integration tool to bring Salesforce and Microsoft Dynamics together so ensure you’re maximizing it to the best of its ability.
- Leverage real-time data sources to trigger instant updates across all your entities in Salesforce and Microsoft Dynamics.
- Reference multi-data source functionality to tap into more data within a single integration.
- Avoid custom code – the tool you purchased should make integration simpler not more complex.
- Error Handling – Like it or not, errors will arise in testing and production. Be sure your solution will help you address these as a minor speed bump and not an ongoing headache.
- Plan Ahead!
Planning well in advance cannot be understated. In addition to all the tips and tricks we’ve covered, you must allow a suitable timeframe to build, test and complete each integration. Can you complete a Salesforce and Dynamics integration from start to finish in a week? Ninety-nine percent of the time the answer is no.
Be proactive every step of the way and always allow yourself an additional buffer of time for the unexpected. Whether it’s additional testing or enhanced data transformation, setting a proper timeframe for each phase plays a large role in exceeding expectations.
Follow our 7 tips for a successful integration between Salesforce and Microsoft Dynamics.
Ready to build an integration between Salesforce and Microsoft Dynamics? I’d love to help you move to the next step. Contact me (firstname.lastname@example.org).