In recent years, CRM systems have gone from managing client details and interactions to providing a platform for client services. While this makes it easy to track client details, it can also introduce challenges if clients want to access their service provider’s database.
Security issues and data complexities can make it hard for service providers to give clients direct access to their CRM database. One solution is to build a custom API for external applications to plug into. The API does the hard work of collating details and managing security, and clients easily get secure real-time information.
InaPlex recently built a custom API for a major Realty Adviser that provides a property appraisal service for banks. Implemented by Clarus IT Solutions, the service is setup in Dynamics CRM which has been heavily customized to manage the entire appraisal process. Documents associated with an appraisal are stored in SharePoint, a web-based, collaborative platform that integrates with Microsoft 365.
When a bank requests a property appraisal the Realty Adviser raises a work order in its internal CRM system and assigns the work to a certified appraiser. There are many approved appraisers per bank, and the same appraiser can be used across several different banks.
The appraisal process is tracked from beginning to end through the work order. There can be multiple reviews of an appraisal and many different companies and people involved, all of which need to be logged, documented and tracked. A hard-copy report and supporting documentation are provided weekly to the banks for reconciliation against their internal records.
One Bank, a major client for the Realty Adviser, wanted to have access to work order details in real-time from its own internal systems. Its staff needed to know whether the work order was open or closed, its current status, and view any associated documents and appraiser details. It also needed access to be online, responsive and available 24/7.
Giving the Bank direct access to the Adviser’s database was problematic. Not only was it difficult to restrict enquiries to the Bank’s information (especially as some details, such as appraisers, can be shared between banks), but the process of locating and extracting associated SharePoint documents was sometimes complicated.
Clarus IT Solutions, with its deep understanding of the Realty Adviser’s Appraisal Service, realized that the most flexible and secure solution would come from developing a custom API. InaPlex was asked to assist with building the API because of its strong Azure platform expertise and deep API experience.
InaPlex created a web services API that isolated the Service provider’s database from the Bank and built functions that could retrieve information on request, even where this involved consolidation across the CRM and SharePoint systems. Information included:
- A list of all appraisals
- Documents associated with any appraisal
- Details on any particular appraisal
- Details on all appraisers certified to work with the Bank
- Documents associated with any particular appraiser
It was straightforward for the Bank to incorporate these API functions into its existing applications and give staff access to real-time enquiries from their internal interface.
As a result of this approach, the Bank now gets work order details quickly, easily and seamlessly, even though they are stored in a third party database and distributed across different applications. There is no longer any need for manual reconciliation, and Bank staff is able to respond rapidly and accurately to problems and enquiries. Meanwhile, the Realty Adviser is delivering a vastly improved service to a major client for a lower cost, and without any risk to the integrity of its own data.
As John Jenkins, President of Clarus IT Solutions, noted, “Direct access to our client’s complex CRM setup would have been a security nightmare and difficult for everyone to implement. Instead, by building an API, we delivered exactly what the client needed without jeopardizing data integrity. Given the clear benefits, I see this sort of approach becoming increasingly common, especially with cloud based CRM solutions.”
Without an API, viewing the Service Provider’s data would have been messy, time consuming and risky, as well as more expensive to setup and maintain. A custom API for accessing cloud databases can be a tremendously effective way of providing secure, real-time visibility of external information. For companies offering client and/or Partner services, or complex field updating, developing a custom API as a gateway to the cloud may well be the smartest approach to take.
Clarus IT Solutions specializes in Managed IT Infrastructure and CRM Consulting Services, in particular all aspects of IT infrastructure management and CRM implementation, management and support. Clarus IT is a certified InaPlex Partner.