Salesforce Integration: Connect IT Systems & Applications Like a Pro

May 23, 2022
13 min

Salesforce integration helps companies connect and manage important business processes within one platform. On AppExchange alone, there are over 4,000 apps and add-ons that you can install and integrate with your org.

But there are thousands of other tools that may require expert  Salesforce integration services  or the development of custom middleware solutions to connect systems and add-ons.

Explore our ideas on how to synchronize systems with Salesforce and the top 5 recommended Salesforce integrations.

But, to understand the nature of Salesforce integration, let’s get back to roots: IT system integrations.

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What is IT System Integration?

 

IT system integration helps connect data, applications, and devices across your IT organizations. IT integration involves:

 

  • Enterprise application integration,
  • System integration,
  • Data integration,
  • Cloud-based integration.

 

What is Enterprise Application Integration

 

Enterprise application integration (EAI) means synchronizations of software and computer systems like ERP systems, CRM systems, or business intelligence applications.

Application integration enables independently created applications to operate together.

With application integration, you can:

  • Keep separate copies of data consistent,
  • Orchestrate the integrated flow of multiple activities,
  • Provide access to data and functionality of a single user interface or application service.

 

What is an example of application integration?

 

You can link applications as a one-time move of application data, two-way synchronization, or on-demand data processing.

Enterprise application integration (EAI) mixes services and technologies to distribute relevant information across the apps and IT systems. You can sync enterprise applications by several approaches:

  • On-premise application integration,
  • SaaS application integration,
  • Application-to-application integration.

 

What are the types of application integration?

 

There are 4 common types of application integration:

  • Presentation-level integration uses middleware (transitional) software to collect and organize data;
  • Business process integration joins business workflows to local and cloud servers via individual applications;
  • Data integration helps share information across apps and mostly requires coding;
  • Communications-level integration method combines data integration and business process integration approaches via Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) that are used to build the bridge between solutions.

You can integrate apps via various integration platforms like hub-and-spoke, point-to-point, or Enterprise Service Bus (ESB).

 

What is System Integration?

 

System integration helps join various computer networking, enterprise application, databases both physically and functionally into a single IT system to unify different business activities.

 

What is Data Integration?

 

Data integration involves the consolidation of different data sources and access to them via a unified view.

 

What is Cloud-based Integration?

 

Cloud-based integration is a type of systems integration via a cloud computing service that involves data, service-oriented architecture (SOA process), process, and application integration.

Why is System Integration Important?

 

IT system integration enables smooth operation of all systems leading to enhanced productivity, reduced expenses, and improved customer service.

IT integration not only connects but also adds value through the new functionality provided by linking different systems’ functions.

 

What are the 5 System Integration Methods?

 

It helps share information between various subsystems automatically. Based on Wikipedia classification, you can connect systems by five popular integration methods:

  • Horizontal integration or Enterprise Service Bus (ESB),
  • Vertical integration,
  • Star integration,
  • Industrial lifecycle integration,
  • A common data format.

More about system integration methods learn here.

Our Salesforce consultants provide IT system integration services of various types and complexity levels. As a system integration company with 25-years’ experience in the CRM market, we can design a custom integration project plan based on your unique business requirements.

Besides that, our professionals can organize Salesforce integrational tutorials for your organizations and teams.

 

What Is System Integrator?

 

A system(s) integrator is a company or person specializing in unifying subsystems into a single system and ensuring its seamless performance.

 

What are the Significant Aspects to Consider System Integrations

 

Consider the following aspects when developing a tour IT integration strategy:

  • Set objectives for integrations,
  • Review available system integration tools & technologies,
  • Engage with a system integration engineer,
  • Analyze data for gaps and errors,
  • Perform a data-mapping exercise,
  • Dedupe and clean data,
  • Set up validation rules,
  • Review existing system integrations and architecture,
  • Think of additional improvements.

What is Integration in Salesforce?

 

Salesforce integration means connecting the data and functionality available in the SaaS CRM platform with another CRM software, system, or application and creating a centralized user experience.

This interconnection of the systems, features, and data in your Salesforce org helps unify key processes within platforms.

 

Why is Salesforce Integration Important?

 

Salesforce integration ensures data consistency, increases productivity and quality of operations by 37%, boosts the speed of information flows, and reduces operational cost by 30%, according to a Salesforce study.

Thanks to facilitated communication between disparate systems, you will get faster access to all necessary data and a 360-degree view of customer information.

 

 

Salesforce Integration Limitations

 

Despite Salesforce’s limitless potential in connecting various IT systems, all available integration tools are not equal from the technical and user sides. They can differ by programming languages, ways they store data as well as types of users they are aimed at general or technical ones.

Some Salesforce integration tools are quite simple to set up and use. They belong to standard Salesforce integration and most often have pre-set templates to simplify the process. Others can be more complex and require some degree of technical knowledge.

9 Steps to Perfect Salesforce Integration

 

Let’s assume you decided to orchestrate your integration project on your own, so where should you start?

 

Step #1. Put Together a Salesforce Integration Project Plan

 

Make sure that Salesforce integration aligns with your business goals, alleviates pain points, and brings more value than trouble. Outline key requirements for the integrations like flexibility, scalability, and user-friendliness.

 

Step #2. Set Resources and Budget

 

Once all the expectation and goals are set, decide what type of integration you can afford in terms of skills, resources, and budget.

 

Step #3. Find an Experienced Salesforce Integration Consultants

 

If your team doesn’t have enough experience and expertise in syncing CRM systems with tools, consider consulting a Salesforce professional. They will help you foresee potential integration and maintenance challenges, estimate final support cost, and advise on further optimization of the solution.

Moreover, Salesforce consultants can assist you with data preparation for system synchronization and help you understand your selected integration solution, how it works, and how it can be configured.

 

 

Step #4. Decide on Salesforce Integration Types

 

There are 7 common integration types:

 

App-Based Integration

 

It is an excellent option for Salesforce integration projects that require minimum involvement in installation, setting up, configuration, and maintenance.

In this type of integration, the most time-consuming and crucial part is, actually, preparation.

You need to conduct serious research on app compatibility, system requirements for integration, API limits, ensure that this software won’t disrupt your Salesforce architecture and won’t conflict with other integrated apps, plug-ins, and systems.

 

Code-Based Integration

 

This approach fits more advanced projects requiring tailor-made integrations to guarantee a complete alignment with system requirements and different versions of API. Such option usually takes longer to complete and may require external help.

Also, a major drawback of this integration type is that it requires expert involvement in solution support and maintenance with each Salesforce release.

 

User Interface Integration

 

This integration type enables users to enter multiple apps from a single platform and make them work as one single system.

 

Press Button Integration

 

During this integration, data is transferred from one system to another at a point in the work process when the other system is activated – either by clicking on a button or by selecting from a menu.

 

Business Processes Integration

 

This option may involve Apex web services to handle business logic across multiple applications and accomplish the end-to-end business process.

 

Salesforce Data Integration

 

This method enables data synchronization via SOAP and REST APIs and allows a single app in an org to act as a major source of the specific business object. This type of integration may not require coding, but it cannot implement any custom logic.

 

 

Salesforce Security Integration

 

This type helps to unify all the authentication mechanisms to improve user experience and reduce administration.

 

Step #5. Choose a System Integration Solution

 

Besides the above-mentioned types, you can integrate systems and apps based on various integration solutions like:

  • Salesforce Connect (Lightning Connect),
  • Salesforce App Cloud (Force.com),
  • Ready-to-use integration apps on AppExchange.

 

Salesforce Connect

 

Salesforce Connect is a perfect framework for Salesforce ERP integration or integration with other CRM systems, marketing automation software via real-time or on-demand connection to outside data sources. This option allows to operate large amounts of data without duplicating it to Salesforce, and its codeless point-and-click interface enables easy configuration.

However, this integration approach focuses only on Salesforce side of the integration and requires points for Open Data Protocol for system integration. If chosen systems don’t support Open Data Protocol, you have to build a custom adapter with the Apex Connector Framework.

 

Salesforce App Cloud

 

This platform for custom app development enables building integration apps and links external data sources with them. The app development process doesn’t require solid IT skills and can be completed using Force.com APIs and tools like Force.com, Canvas, and Heroku, as well as drag-and-drop components in Process Builder. This way, it can be performed by an in-house IT department.

These apps can be automatically and safely tested and upgraded without complex customization. But, if you choose to build your solution on App Cloud, it needs to be powered by apps provided by AppExchange partners that can lead to higher costs and a more complicated process of integration solution architecture.

 

AppExchange Apps

 

AppExchange is a Salesforce marketplace for apps and software solutions of platform partners. There you may find multiple tools that can be free or paid, ready for installation or require extra configuration, that can be customized with App Cloud developer tools or serve as a basis for a more complex solution.

Each app on AppExchange complies with a security standard, so you should not worry about your company’s data protection.

AppExchange apps are created for particular integrations. That’s why, if you have a more complex integration scenario, you should sort out apps for every integration.

 

Step #6. Know Your Integration Limits

 

Before launching an integration project, you need to evaluate your current system limits, weak points, and areas for improvement. To do it, you may engage with a Salesforce consulting partner that will perform your Org health check and determine how ready it is for any type of integration.

Then you need to assess your app limits, requirements, compatibility with various Salesforce editions, and scalability.

 

Step #7. Prepare and Manage Your Data

 

To ensure that your integrated tool will display accurate and up-to-date information, you need to keep your data clean, deduplicated, and constantly updated in your Salesforce CRM. Define who and how often will error-prove your system data.

 

 

Step #8. Select an Integration Pattern

 

Determine the best technology integration approach between the two most common scenarios: direct integration or server-based integration.

 

Direct Integration

 

Direct integration is either a direct API or database integration between Salesforce and another system. Even though it may seem limited in flexibility, this approach will satisfy the need for two-way data exchange between systems for smaller projects.

 

Server-based Integration

 

Server-based integration is a more flexible solution that minimizes the engagement of IT services resources, reduces the effects of systems’ updates on the integration, and gives you more control over data flows.

This approach involves solutions delivered according to a hub-and-spoke and an enterprise service bus (ESB) models and hosted in the cloud and on-premises systems. Server-based integration fits for small integration projects as well as larger ones that include dozens of systems with a considerable amount of data flows.

Moreover, you need to decide on the method you will integrate your solution by:

  • One tool at a time,
  • Bulk integration by segments like connecting of only sales-oriented software or marketing-oriented software,
  • Use priority,
  • Integration difficulty.

 

Step #9. Consider Solution Support and Maintenance

 

Regardless of whether you use app-based integration or code-based one, you need to adjust your software to your growing Salesforce platform needs, upgrade it, and debug if necessary.

Think about the person from your team who will keep an eye on it or seek external support from Salesforce administrators to do it for you.

If you need expert guidance on Salesforce integration, our consultants can build your individual project path,from business needs assessment and Salesforce Org audit to solution integration and support.

Also, in case current software offerings can’t meet your corporate requirements, we will develop your custom solution on top of Salesforce and integrate it with your platform. Just share your ideas with us and maximize your Salesforce investment.

What Integrations with CRM Are Needed?

 

The basic business integrations you need to link your CRM with are:

 

  • Email marketing tools,
  • Sales automation solutions,
  • Business intelligence apps,
  • Accounting systems,
  • Marketing automation tools,
  • Helpdesk solutions,
  • Social media apps,
  • Scheduling app/calendar,
  • Computer telephony systems.

Bonus: Top 5 Salesforce App Integrations

 

 1. Ascendix Search Integration

 

Ascendix Search is a top choice for people who value their efficiency and time. This tool was developed by Ascendix to power up the search experience of Salesforce users by refining general search functionality with more advanced features like:

  • Multi-criteria, multi-object searches,
  • Map search,
  • Search via charts,
  • Additional search operators,
  • Relative date operators,
  • NOT IN, OR conditions for related objects and more!

 

Get a view of Ascendix Search’s capabilities in the video below.

 

 

To start enjoying Salesforce Ascendix Search integration benefits, you can get this app on AppExchange if your Salesforce instance supports:

  • Professional,
  • Enterprise,
  • Unlimited,
  • Force.com,
  • Performance editions.

It should be noted that Ascendix Search can be enhanced with additional functionality like point-and-click report https://ascendix.com/products-pricing/, brochure, and booklet generation tool.

 

2. Mailchimp Salesforce Integration

 

Over 15 million people globally use MailChimp to design, send and track email marketing campaigns. MailChimp Salesforce integration allows you to view and manage campaigns and subscriber lists in the Salesforce platform, import contacts from Salesforce to MailChimp, create custom queries, and more.

If you don’t know how Salesforce Mailchimp integration works, watch a video tutorial on how to connect them.

 

 

 

3. Jira Salesforce Integration

 

Jira is one of the top project management and issue-tracking tools for IT service managers and software developers. With the help of this platform, your team can monitor the progress of a project and have cases to troubleshoot at their fingertips.

To enable Jira integration with Salesforce you can choose over several options:

  • Atlassian’s marketplace and its verified vendor ServiceRocket,
  • Third-party integrators like Zapier,
  • Other integration services on AppExchange like zAgile, Go2Group, or Workato.

It is worth mentioning, that ServiceRocket provides three types of Jira integrations:

  • Jira Server,
  • Jira Cloud,
  • Jira Service Desk for tracking issue tickets.

On the app pages, you can find Installation, User, and Administration Guides.

Get a Perfect Blend of Salesforce Advanced Search Solution and Email Marketing Tool

Learn more about Ascendix Search and how you can benefit by using it.

4. Salesforce QuickBooks Integration

 

QuickBooks is among the leading accounting platforms for tracking company revenue and expenses, prepping your business for tax season, and much more.

Salesforce QuickBooks Integration can empower you with:

  • Getting full visibility into your business processes and areas for improvement,
  • Enhanced data sharing like sales orders, expenses, and invoicing between sales and accounting,
  • Reduced duplicate data entry,
  • Increased productivity,
  • More comprehensive insights for better forecasting.

 

Watch video guidelines on Salesforce QuickBooks integration:

 

 

You can integrate QuickBooks via third-party tools on AppExchange like:

  • DBSync by Avankia,
  • Workato,
  • InterWeave,
  • Breadwinner,
  • Propelware,
  • Zapier.

 

 

5. Salesforce Slack Integration

 

Salesforce’s newly acquired collaboration solution for Slack allows you to:

  • Connect with the people and tools you work with daily,
  • Communicate in real-time between Slack and Salesforce Chatter,
  • Increase team productivity and collaboration,
  • Improve searches across platforms.

On top of it, Salesforce Slack integration enables your team:

  • Share messages both ways between Salesforce Chatter and your Slack channel,
  • Search your Salesforce solution from Slack,
  • Share results there.

 

Check how to synchronize Salesforce with Slack:

 

 

You can integrate the Slack app either by downloading it from the Slack App Directory or getting it straight from the AppExchange listing. For more details on Salesforce integration, review instructions for configuring the Slack plug-in and Salesforce for Slack help article.

Additional Salesforce Slack integration options are available on third-party platforms like:

  • Zapier,
  • Automate.io,
  • Workato.

Certainly, this Salesforce integration list can vary from business to business, and you may compose your personal favorites list out of 4, 000+ Salesforce apps and integration tools on AppExchange and 2, 000 + integrations on Zapier or Workato.

But to identify your best fits, you have to develop the right Salesforce integration strategy and know exactly what kind of integration tool you need to stretch out your Salesforce capabilities in the right direction.

 

 

Final Thoughts

 

Salesforce integration solutions provide you with an extensive org capacity and turn the platform use into an uninterrupted and complete experience. Good news, that the most popular tools are already ready to set up and go without additional coding.

The bad news, is that if you want to have an above-the-average solution that will combine flexibility, scalability, user-friendliness, and custom functionality, you still need assistance from technical teams.

If you want to make sure that you are on the right track with your integration project, our expert team of Salesforce consultants will be happy to assist you with all Salesforce integration services like:

  • Integration of multiple distributed systems
  • Integration with complex custom solutions
  • Consolidation of several CRM systems under Salesforce solution
  • Planning and strategizing  of complex integration scenarios
  • Data integration and synchronization among the systems

Reach out to our Salesforce support team and tell us about your integration challenges.

Salesforce Integration FAQs

What platforms does Salesforce integrate with?

There are over 4,000 apps and solutions on AppExchange that you can seamlessly integrate Salesforce with. Moreover, Salesforce can be connected with other CRM and ERP systems, Salesforce Clouds and add-ons, as well as with sales, marketing, and telephony automation solutions.

How do we do integration in Salesforce?

There are various types of Salesforce integration. You can connect systems with Salesforce via app-based, API, or code-based integration. Or you can synchronize platforms via integrators like Salesforce Connect, Zapier, or Workauto. 

How many integrations does Salesforce have?

There is an unlimited number of Salesforce integration tools and solutions that can be linked to Salesforce. This can be possible thanks to platform agility and the availability of applications and third-party solutions for seamless integration.

 

What is CRM Integration?

CRM integration is the form of synchronizing a CRM system with other software solutions. Also, Customer data available in the CRM platform can be seamlessly integrated with third-party systems. 

These third-party solutions might be unrelated to the CRM system, but the data they generate or use can make the CRM system work better and vice versa. 

 

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