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Salesforce-SharePoint Integration Can Overcome Collaborative Pitfalls
There's no need to suffer through wasted time and lost content, but your integration options will depend on what you need to accomplish.
Posted Dec 19, 2017
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Even though Salesforce functionality for collaboration and document management is quite strong, many companies also use specific collaboration systems, like SharePoint, to store documents and manage collaboration company-wide. This helps to extend related Salesforce functionality, boost cross-departmental collaboration, and save on licenses. However, it can simultaneously hinder employee productivity if a company doesn’t address possible pitfalls.

Here’s what can go wrong when employee collaboration happens without Salesforce-SharePoint integration.

Flawed processes. As customer, vendor, and partner contracts undergo the same approval process, they are usually automated in one workflow management solution, like SharePoint. For contract approvals, Salesforce users have to shift from the CRM to the collaboration system, and vice versa.

Hindered team collaboration. Customer records are stored in Salesforce, and collaboration on them happens partially in Salesforce and partially in SharePoint, but project documents and content templates are kept in SharePoint. Again, Salesforce users lose time switching between two systems to keep in touch with the rest of the team.

Document duplication. Sales reps have to download documents (like contract templates or marketing content) from SharePoint and then upload them in Salesforce every time they need to share these documents with the team or customers. The documents themselves can be too large to download/upload quickly. Also, this process leads to duplication of documents in two systems and adds to the file version mess.

Deserted content. Sales reps can copy links to SharePoint files in Salesforce, but they still won’t be able to preview those files from Salesforce or find them with Salesforce Global search. Consequently, content that could be valuable for communication with customers can get buried in SharePoint libraries.

These pitfalls trigger companies to look for a Salesforce-to-SharePoint integration solution that will turn collaborative document management into a flawless process.

What Does a Salesforce-SharePoint Integration Bring?

There are at least three reasons to consider Salesforce integration with SharePoint:

1. A more flexible sales team. Sales reps have to be mobile and quick. The CRM integrated with the collaboration system saves sales reps time by giving them easy access to the resources they need from any mobile device both online and offline.

2. Streamlined collaboration on team projects. Every member of a project team, either in the back office or in the front office, gets to keep using a familiar system—either SharePoint or Salesforce. The sync between the systems allows users of both tools to interact with each other in real time and get notifications on updates instantly.

3. Enhanced document management. Salesforce-to-SharePoint integration makes it possible to access the documents and work on them within the user interface (UI) of a preferred system. If a user is unsure about the name of the document and whether it is stored in Salesforce or in SharePoint, they can quickly find it via a content search and preview of either system. Reviewing and editing will change the main document and won’t lead to content duplication or problems with file versions. Custom workflows will allow automation of the document review process across both systems. For example, a sales rep initiates a contract approval from Salesforce, then the approval goes in SharePoint, and finally, the status of the approved contract is automatically changed in Salesforce. 

Integration Options

So as not to get lost in technical details, let’s consider integration options from the business standpoint (read: investments and returns).

Option 1: Salesforce Files Connect

When an integration project is on the horizon, the first reasonable intention is to minimize development effort and explore ready-made solutions. Most Salesforce licenses include Files Connect, the platform’s tool for Salesforce-to-SharePoint sync. Files Connect creates references to SharePoint content to let users:

  • edit, share and connect SharePoint files to Salesforce records (the same way as Salesforce files);
  • use Salesforce Global search to look up SharePoint docs.

Technically, Salesforce File Connect treats supported external data sources as custom objects. By granting the ability to access SharePoint files and lists within the Salesforce UI, Files Connect significantly improves user convenience. Another advantage: Files Connect also works for Salesforce integrations with Box, OneDrive and Google Drive. Other file repositories will soon be taken on board as well. 

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