Salesforce integration consulting is about more than just finding a partner with experience in integrations. Most Salesforce integration consultants have a go-to approach for integration solutions. As a prospective buyer, it’s important to have a basic understanding of frequent solutions paths so you can compare the consultant’s recommendation against other integration options.
If the platform you’re integrating to Salesforce is an established product and there’s a natural need for a Salesforce integration, chances are the platform will have some form of Salesforce integration built in. Unfortunately, in many cases, business requirements don’t always align with native functionality. Many built in Salesforce integrations lack the flexibility needed to be considered a real solution. You’ll also need to test the integration at full throttle because many native integrations are un-optimized and can easily kill Salesforce API limits. Because native Salesforce integration scope is often narrow, errors tend to be less frequent than with a custom built solution, but you’ll still need to establish a procedure for monitoring integration errors or platform down scenarios. Native integration is usually the lowest cost and fastest win, so if your integration needs fit within native integration functionality, definitely consider this a good place to start.
Mulesoft is the Salesforce integration platform. If you engage Salesforce to build an integration solution, this is likely going to be the recommended path. Because Mulesoft is a Salesforce product, the integration will work flawlessly on the Salesforce side, but the integration project success is highly dependent on the integration team’s ability to successfully work with the connected platform. How many integration errors you’ll have to deal with post-build will depend on the solution build quality and scope of platform changes on either side. You should plan to identify an internal resource to regularly monitor for errors. Mulesoft is a well built platform with many partners able to build good integration solutions, but if you’re not careful, integration build and maintenance costs can easily skyrocket.
Custom Code Integration
Building an integration solution using custom code is frequently considered when you have developers in house or you engage a consultant with heavy custom dev capabilities. The quality of the end product varies significantly from amazing to huge failure with the biggest factor being the dev team’s ability to build a good solution. In a custom coded solution, change management is a huge pain with even small integration tweaks likely requiring a re-deploy. Bigger changes like a changing API spec can be a nightmare. Using a custom coded integration will likely have the highest ongoing maintenance costs compared to any other option. In addition, unless an error monitoring solution was designed up front, expect that a developer will need to keep a close eye on text logs to monitor for errors, often leading to errors being missed because they’re logged but not obvious. Of all the possible integration options, this option lands at the bottom of my list as a general recommendation.
Custom IPAAS Integration
All major integration platforms will have connectivity to Salesforce, so going with an integration platform will give you a jump start on build out an integration solution. You’re even further ahead if the other connecting platform is supported on the IPAAS. Using an IPAAS integration solution enables management of the integration mapping without always needing to involve dev resources. In practice, integration consultants will often be able to build out the integration solution to 80% or more without issues, but there are often integration challenges to get the full solution, which can double or triple total hours to build a working solution. When running into issues, expect to submit tickets for “small” issues to the IPAAS team or to the dev team. You’ll be at the mercy of the IPAAS provider for any connectivity updates. You should also expect to dedicate a team member to monitor and resolve errors.
Managed integrations are maintained and monitored by a managed integration partner. Managed integrations tend to be full solutions including considerations for initial data load and other key integration issues that are after-thoughts for other approaches. Managed integrations also are frequently higher quality integrations because there’s skin in the game after the initial integration build. Managed integration will come with an ongoing cost for managed integration services, but those ongoing costs often cover any API spec changes and even platform version upgrades. Managed integration providers will monitor for errors and platform connectivity with any errors escalated accordingly. Datix Unity has managed Salesforce integrations for both Infor Salesforce Integration and Epicor® Salesforce Integration.
After identifying your Salesforce integration consulting options, continue to explore available solution options from the consulting team before locking in your vendor choice. It makes sense to be an informed consumer for an important decision like rolling out a new Salesforce integration. It’s important to have a good understanding of buying implications before moving ahead with a proposed integration solution.