Making Salesforce documentable

Many companies using SAP have cloud-based CRM systems such as Salesforce. However, providing storage is not their speciality. Because of this, KGS has developed a new web service for archive coupling. Together with mindsquare, this web service has been used to connect an archive to Salesforce.

SAP experts should have CRM on their radar. One reason is that, with increasing customer focus, sales processes are becoming increasingly merged with business processes in the ERP system. The development in the CRM market is worthy of note; since 2017, the global customer relationship management solutions business has posted the highest sales in the software market (just under $ 40 billion, according to Gartner) and continues to grow at a current rate of about 16 percent a year. The entry into force of the EU General Data Protection Regulation gave its development an additional boost, as it requires sensitive customer data to be stored, processed and deleted over a longer period. This makes CRM systems, which are reserves of customer data, a critical instrument of corporate management.

In turn, in the CRM market, Salesforce holds a clear lead in terms of market share and growth rates. The name is synonymous with cloud-based customer relationship management, but the product has now evolved into a complex platform with multiple layers and applications, among which CRM is just one of many. These applications fulfil different tasks and are based on an AI platform called Einstein.

Cloud CRM also gaining acceptance in conservative industries

The main use of Salesforce is as a classic “Sales Cloud”. The CRM system controls and documents the entire sales process from lead to order. There are numerous points of contact with SAP along the way. At the latest, the ERP requires the customer master data from the CRM system by the time the order is created in the ERP solution. It is very likely, therefore, that, at some point, SAP users will have to deal with CRM – and thereby Salesforce as the market leader. In the German market, too, more and more companies which use SAP are acquiring licenses for cloud-based CRM solutions, including companies from conservative industries. Previous concerns about alleged data security defects and access restrictions in the cloud seem to be slowly receding here. Up to now, companies have often feared that other companies or institutions would gain access to their data if it was in the cloud.

As a service provider for SAP and Salesforce, mindsquare regularly receives requests from customers to synchronise parts of their (on-premise or cloud) SAP landscape with Salesforce, thus integrating data, interfaces or entire processes. The CRM platform supports three types of integration: Either master or transaction data is exchanged, and synchronised between the systems if necessary, or the entire surface of System A is immediately integrated into System B, giving the user the impression that they are working on just one system. Ultimately, process integration means triggering different processes in different systems with answers and further process steps (instead of just exchanging data). One use case can be quote posting. When an offer is accepted in Salesforce, it can be sent to SAP for posting. Conversely, orders can be created automatically in SAP and returned to the CRM solution.

Communication with third-party systems via Enterprise API

Salesforce supports standardised protocols such as HTTP, HTTPS, SOAP, and REST for integrations of this kind. In addition, almost every technology can be combined with the cloud solution. The manufacturer provides a comprehensive Enterprise API here. You can display a new field from SAP to Salesforce by simple adjustment of the CRM data model with Drag&Drop Editor, without writing a single line of code. If a new field is added in the CRM system, it can be queried immediately in the API. Even SAP iDocs can be generated via CRM.

Thanks to standards, this openness benefits the connection of electronic archives. For this purpose, mindsquare, together with the SAP archiving specialist KGS, has developed a web services-based interface between Salesforce and ArchiveLink-based archiving systems such as KGS ContentServer4Storage. After all, a lot of documents are created during the lead-to-order process: offers, orders, calculations, plans, contracts. However, because it is cloud-based, the CRM solution only keeps limited storage space available. Connecting an extra hard drive just does not work and adding storage in the cloud to the CRM provider itself quickly becomes disproportionately expensive.

Salesforce without its own archive solution

So where do the documents go? Salesforce itself does not provide its own archive solution. It is therefore up to the user to choose an audit-compliant means of filing sales documents. The user can choose to do nothing. This will result in the CRM’s own memory becoming full at some point and additional capacity having to be purchased for each licence, at high cost. Or, the user can regularly create backups of the system with all the documents stored in it – for example on cheap tape drives – and delete old data. This solves the archiving problem, but the 360-degree customer view is lost. In the sales process, however, rapid access to a customer’s history is indispensable. In the CRM system itself, this would no longer be possible. Therefore, integrating an existing archive system via interfaces in Salesforce is recommended.

Synchronous and bidirectional coupling

The web service developed by KGS and mindsquare connects Salesforce with ArchiveLink-enabled archives. So, if a company already uses ArchiveLink, it only needs the web service and no new archive system. This does not incur any additional licensing fees in addition to implementation costs from Salesforce. In the existing archive, it will also be possible in the future to save documents created in CRM system worksteps. Communication proceeds via HTTP/HTTPS with SOAP and can be synchronous and bidirectional if required. So, if a Salesforce user creates a document, it will be saved to the archive immediately through the web service. When the user then opens the document, it is loaded from the archive and displayed in Salesforce. Electronic archives can therefore be linked to Salesforce in this way in order to manage unstructured content and documents efficiently and to make them easily accessible. This also works for documents from any application, not just those created while working with Salesforce or SAP.

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