At Kitepipe, we help a lot of our customers integrate the Salesforce platform with other applications, including NetSuite, SAP and Workday.
What's the most critical aspect of these projects? Ensuring the data among all these applications is managed properly. That's no easy task, and certainly one we've seen many organizations underestimate.
To address these challenges, organizations must have a clear approach. Too often, we see businesses roll out the Salesforce platform without thinking through how they will manage the master data that Salesforce creates or consumes.
A few key steps are necessary to ensure that Salesforce platform data is shared correctly across other applications to avoid redundant or inaccurate data. If these steps are taken, any organization can operate far more efficiently and effectively.
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Customer Data: It’s Complicated
Customer data models are often challenging because customers may carry out business in multiple industries, locations and subsidiaries. This often requires various hierarchies and relationships between the data.
Also, different industries may emphasize different attributes. For example, with logistics companies, the important data attributes are customer location and contact information. In healthcare, by contrast, there's a multifaceted relationship between healthcare providers, locations and the systems in which they work.
So, don’t underestimate customer master data complexity. As an organization's use of the Salesforce platform evolves, unmanaged data complexity can have a profound influence on the effectiveness of business processes.
The Common Data Model: Challenges Abound
Assuming there are no significant data-quality problems at the start, a mid-sized organization can usually create a master data model in 10 to 12 weeks. But data is like a lightning rod; it attracts multiple stakeholders with different priorities and biases.
To help our customers, we conduct several forms of data mastering. We perform item mastering, which creates the product catalog. That's straightforward because item data usually originates from one location, and everyone can agree on what item data is.
Employee mastering is typically done around Workday or another human resources system. We half-jokingly say that only two people really care about employee data. One is the vice president of HR, and the other is the IT director assigned to onboarding employees. So that's straightforward as well.
However, lots of people care about customer data, which is key to operations in Sales Cloud. The finance people care; the salespeople care; and the service people care. As a result, the barriers to a common data model are often not technical but instead related to change management, control and business processes. These issues can impede an organization’s efforts to model and build a customer hub that syncs data across all platforms.
People talk about having a 360-degree view of their customers. You can achieve this by integrating applications, which lets you move customer data to wherever it’s needed — the Salesforce platform or any other application. (Be aware, to do this effectively requires aligning all stakeholders around a shared vision of the customer-data model.)
Data Mastering: Supporting Business Processes
No matter how good a data-mastering tool may be — and the excellent Boomi Master Data Hub is what we use — data mastering should not be seen as only a technical, data-movement exercise. Data mastering must also support all business processes that rely on the data.
Regardless of where data from Salesforce travels in the organization, the integration should be a visible part of the business process, so there’s a status alert available to show whether data arrived at the intended destination. And if not, the alert will also show why. Using Boomi Hub, we configure alerts to go not to IT but to the business stakeholder. That way, the business user can fix the issue and rerun the process, allowing the integration process to execute as designed.
Although not technical, change management goes hand-in-hand with supporting business processes. Designing effective integrations often requires the targeted business processes to change. Changing a process means that multiple business lines will need to agree on data models and data-quality issues.
For effective change management, organizations must also conduct an impact assessment, fine-tune change planning and communicate frequently. Everyone involved needs to understand three things: what’s happening, why it’s happening and what’s in it for them. Fail to address these people and process issues, and your data-integration projects will likely fail — with Salesforce or any other application.
Boomi Master Data Hub: The Secret to Successful Salesforce Data Integration
Organizations usually recognize when they have problems syncing data between Sales Cloud and other SaaS and on-premise applications. But often they don't know how to fix them.
Boomi Master Data Hub offers a powerful set of tools to do just that. Think of Hub as a data synchronization engine. Master Data Hub is not a huge, multi-million-dollar master data management (MDM) implementation that takes years to deploy. On the contrary, Hub is "right-sized" for the data governance you need to manage workflows created to support data synchronization.
Yet for all its ease and simplicity, Master Data Hub also scales up very well to support enterprise-grade projects. Right now, we’re working on a project for a financial-services company with 10 million customer records.
We're seeing a dramatic surge in demand for managing the data used in Salesforce. And we're finding Master Data Hub to be ideal for companies that rely heavily on Salesforce. Because Hub is part of the unified Boomi Platform, you get best-in-class integration in combination with data mastering. That is something other integration platforms can’t offer.
If your organization has trouble grappling with the challenges of managing master data in the Salesforce platform, you should definitely consider this powerful combination. We do, and our customers thank us.
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About the AuthorMore Content by Larry Cone