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Selecting a CRM Integration Solution

Introduction

You’ve got your CRM system all setup and new sales processes in place, now you’re ready to go out and conquer the market.

There’s just one small problem; all the leads you’re getting from your new online campaigns aren’t being actioned quickly enough. Worse, they’re sometimes sent to the wrong teams for follow-up.

You speak to IT about this and they tell you it will take 4 man months to get a solution in place, and if you confirm your requirements this week they’ll schedule you in for August 2017. It’s currently August 2016.

Nobody said it would be easy – but no one ever said it would be this hard.

Even if this isn’t the exact problem you’re facing there is a good chance that you don’t have all the information you need in your CRM system – or that it’s simply not getting there quickly and accurately. Problems integrating with a CRM system are not uncommon; however you don’t need to wait until August 2017 to address them.

Several companies have tools specifically designed for CRM integration as well as extensive experience with implementing solutions for data movement. This makes it much easier and faster to transfer information into the CRM system in a way that meets the specific business needs.

Here we cover some of the different types of benefits provided by tools designed for CRM integration.

Ready-to-go Connectors

CRM Integration tools already have connectors in place for your particular CRM system, which can have many benefits. For one thing, they incorporate extensive amounts of code and experience to make it easy to maintain the CRM system’s business rules. For instance, if you create an account in some CRM systems, you also have to create a corresponding address (even if it’s empty), otherwise the user interface “breaks” – this is the sort of thing a connector manages automatically.

Connectors also make it straightforward to know where incoming information should be placed in the CRM environment. They will often mask complex data schemas with a more straightforward layout, making the process of mapping much easier. This not only saves a lot of time, it also helps protect the integrity of your business data.

Built-in Data Management

CRM Integration systems can also include data management tools to ensure that data coming in conforms to the data format required by the CRM system. The amount of data manipulation functionality across integration tools varies, and is a big differentiator between them.

Some data transformation is simple, such as taking one date format and translating to another. Most tools will have libraries of functions that deal with this sort of transformation automatically. Things can, however, be more complicated.

Names, for instance, may come in as one field, such as Fred Smith, and need to split out into two fields, one for the first name and another for the last name. To make it more complicated, the incoming value could be Fred Smith, Mr. Fred Smith, Mr Fred R Smith or Mr Fred R Smith Jr. – you get the idea. Some integration tools have functions to handle more complex examples such as this.

Then, there are really complicated data transformations. Take as an example a company name ACME, which might come in as acme, ACME Inc ACME, or even have misspellings such as AMCE Incorporated, AMCE, aMCE, and so on. A few integration engines can also handle this sort of challenge by providing preset rules that the user can tweak to improve matches; they may even provide “fuzzy matching” capabilities with tolerance levels for different match qualities so that little or no manual intervention is required.

Strong Matching Tools

Another area purpose designed integration tools can assist with is matching. This is important for catching duplicates, as well as for making sure that details are attached to the correct records. Basic integration tools use an integrated query language such as SQL for matching. More advanced products provide additional options to deliver a range of cost and performance benefits, and are critical for widening the breadth of data that can be reliably transferred. Strong matching is probably the biggest differentiator across different CRM integration tools

And There’s More……

Other things to look out for include:

  • the ability to label and store transfer procedures
  • tools to link procedures to other events, or be triggered by other processes
  • easy ways to safely test and refine transfer runs
  • the capability to manage high volumes
  • strong audit and logging
  • the ability to send data both to and from the CRM system.

What’s the Best Integration Solution?

In some instances a simple integration tool will suffice. There are many component based tools that operate with a click and drop approach and if the data transfer is totally straightforward – and sometimes it is – these will do the trick. Bear in mind, however, that your processes will need to match the capabilities of these tools – they will not easily bend to accommodate any non-standard business flow requirements.

For more complex needs, in terms of data and/or business processes, a robust application with breadth and depth of functionality will serve you better. Returning to the example of lead distribution introduced earlier, to improve the lead routing you would probably need to consider at least the following:

  • some data cleaning on incoming leads
  • the rejection of duplicate leads
  • data transformation
  • routing according to user defined business rules for sales territories, teams and personnel
  • the ability to manage complex business rules
  • a simple way to maintain and update these rules
  • rapid, repeatable lead transfer
  • an easy and safe testing approach
  • comprehensive audit trails to track logged leads

Requirements such as these these will be difficult to meet with a simple approach, and require the use of more powerful solutions, and the support of highly experienced personnel.

Conclusion

It’s clear that a tool designed to manage the potential complexities of data transfer will ultimately save a huge amount of time and money, as well as protect the integrity of your valuable information. Still, at the end of the day, you’ll have to do your homework: Understand your data flow and how this relates to business operations, know your data quality and structure, be realistic about what is feasible with your deadlines and budget, and try to fix as many costs as possible in advance. Only then will you be in a position to evaluate the best data integration solution to leverage your CRM investment.

Inaport, from InaPlex, delivers CRM integration and data migration solutions for leading CRM systems including Salesforce, Microsoft Dynamics CRM, Sage CRM, Infor CRM (previously Saleslogix), GoldMine and ACT. It has a range of connectors and maps for quick results, and its straightforward approach provides a wealth of powerful functions. To learn more please book a free webinar, download a free 30 day evaluation license, or visit the InaPlex website.

 

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