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Salesforce & SAP Integration: The Biggest Misunderstanding in the Industry

September 3, 2019 | By: Steve Hochheiser

Working in the Enterprise Application World for 25 years, you hear about a lot of projects that have outright failed or that failed to meet the original goal of the project. In recent years as Salesforce.com has become the dominant CRM package preferred by Sales Executives, many enterprises have begun to try to integrate it to SAP, the leading ERP package. The results have been mixed depending on what they were trying to accomplish.

I am stating the obvious when I tell you that Salesforce CRM and SAP ERP were designed to do two very different things in two very different ways.

When companies first determine a need for integrating the two platforms they may have the objective of simply transferring existing customer data from the ERP system to the CRM system. The IT Team will usually go out and acquire one of the existing Extract, Transform, and Load (ETL) platforms such as Informatica, Boomi, or Mulesoft and map the existing customers from ERP to CRM in one or two months – mission complete, right? Not exactly.

After this integration sales team sees the benefit and begins to ask for Credit, Sales, and Delivery Data. The team goes back to the drawing board and decides they need custom data objects to hold the data in Salesforce. And, they will need data quality tools to ensure the daily batches are in sync if a mapping is incorrect. The IT Team then undertakes a much more significant (and expensive) mapping/development exercise to move data in one direction from ERP to CRM. The whole process takes about six months.

This is where it breaks. The sales team now asks the question that should have been addressed at the beginning:. “Why can’t we just create customers in SAP directly from the account in SFDC? Why can’t we create a Quotation or Sales Order from the Opportunity instead of relying on inside sales?” These are no longer questions about data mapping (data sync), instead we’re entering the world of Process Integration.

You are now moving from a simple CRM System designed with little data dependencies and the administrator in mind to a complex ERP system with massive data dependencies and specialized skill sets to integrate Lead to Cash Processes. This is not an exercise in mapping/syncing data, but more about process integration.

To understand why iPasS is not going to solve your challenge,you need to understand that these tools evolved from ETL software. Boomi was originally a premise-based product heavily utilized for EDI before its move to the cloud. Informatica was used for building data warehouses. These products were used simply to extract the data, map the data (transform), and then load the data into disparate systems. As these mapping exercises became more complex, ETL companies added additional Master Data Management and Data Quality Suites to try to be more proactive when daily batches failed and the systems were again out of sync, adding even more costs and complexity. This is why the ETL approach is a huge problem, cloud or otherwise. It only addresses moving data out of the complex ERP System to the simpler CRM System. However, when you change the direction and try to move data into ERP, you need to follow complex master data rule sets that govern the data.

Process Integration Is Just That: A Process

Process Integration requires interaction with users in addition to the master data and configuration governing the actual process. The ETL approach of simply mapping data doesn’t account for the complexities and nuances of an evergrowing organization. A large component of process integration is automation allowing for complicated task to be completed with the use of less human resources. 

Mapping out an organization’s business processes would be the best place to start when considering integration solutions. Process integration is much less reliant on point-to-point connectivity, as this can get unruly and hard to maintain as the business becomes more complex. This automation of processes makes it more efficient for independent systems to communicate both internally and externally. Approaching integration through the lens of a process rather than simple data mapping or end-to-end connectivity will make your business far more scalable and efficient as a result.

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