Integrating Your CRM Data with Cloud Elements

By Ross Garrett in SaaS Integration, Enterprise Integration, API Integration, Cloud Integration Posted Sep 4, 2018

Data about your customers - and your customers’ customers - is the lifeblood of your organization. Today we have access to a myriad of tools and technologies each designed make better use of this data - but each is fundamentally an island of data  that is only actionable within the context of that single application.

There are over 150,000 SaaS apps today, growth of around 30x over the past couple of years - and much of this growth in the domain of CRM, Marketing and Customer Success systems. The success of your organization and the effectiveness and adoption of these apps depends on robust and reliable integration. Whether you’re just starting out or have been struggling for a while with how to effectively integrate CRM apps - like Salesforce, NetSuite, Oracle CRM or MS Dynamics CRM - with other essential business applications, you’ve come to the right place. You don’t have to be technical to understand CRM integration concepts. As long as you can picture information moving from one system to another and are in an organization where information needs to be brought together for use in different systems, Cloud Elements is here to help!

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GETTING STARTED
CRM platforms are designed to offer a single view of the customer, and as such enable organizations to realize efficiency and scale across customer facing teams. However, life with CRM systems often doesn’t start that way. Customer information may initially be spread out over several systems. For example Salesforce users will typically expect that distributed customer information appear directly in Salesforce to reduce the need for multiple logins, increase their efficiency, and give them easy access to data analysis. This is often the starting point of CRM integration for many companies.

The goal is to successfully integrate your CRM with another application - to share and synchronize data between apps. For example, you may need to have your CRM leads’ opt-out information shared with your marketing automation system. Aspects of your sales opportunity need to be shared with your CPQ system to build and send out a quote to a prospect. After an opportunity is closed, you may need to know inventory information in order to pull a product from the warehouse, and ship it. Finally, your accounting system should then know when your new customer should be sent an invoice to pay for this item.

Understanding what information needs to be where, at what step of a business process, and how often it needs to be updated, is key to supporting and managing a company’s data and application integration needs.

ACHIEVING A UNIFIED VIEW OF CRM DATA
As your organization’s use of CRM data increases, departments other than Sales want to store and report on this information, potentially increasing the complexity of the integration landscape and the data itself. The key to managing data complexity is understanding and anticipating factors that contribute to it and having a plan for handling it as best as you can, so you can use your CRM data to its fullest potential. Data complexity within and between your business applications doesn’t just happen, it usually builds up over time as processes and actions from different groups build on each other.

After you’ve integrated a few applications and are sharing data back and forth, you need to know if that data can be trusted. How information is defined, stored, and associated in one system may be different than in another system. The sales team may define when a prospect becomes a customer using the date when a contract was signed. The finance team may have its own definition of when a prospect becomes a customer, based on a separate date, like a subscription start date. Both systems may have a date field called “Customer Since,” with different dates in each system. If those two systems are integrated, which field is an end-user supposed to trust? Who will know why those two fields might have similar names but show different data? What if the two fields are mapped to each other, and one system ends up incorrectly overwriting data in the other system?

Once you’ve helped your organization develop CRM integrations so people trust the data that they’re seeing, you can then think about truly optimizing your business processes and having confidence in the data analysis backing up your business decisions.

Cloud Elements has provided examples of how to do just that - check out our CRM data sync trial guide to learn more and get started! 

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