THINK TANK THOUGHTS

Sales and Microsoft (Strange Bedfellows)

As companies and organizations make the shift cloud-based infrastructure, the ability to integrate different platforms for maximum value and utility has become a critical factor in the deciding which technologies to invest in.

a white cloud against the blue sky

Feb 11, 2022 | BY Patrick O'Leary , Senior Experience Architect & Salesforce SME

Strange Bedfellows

As companies and organizations shift to cloud-based infrastructure, integrating different platforms for maximum value and utility is important to decide technologies to invest in. But as you might imagine, to be effective in today’s user-driven interactive business environment, integrations require more than flawless functionality — they must meld into day-to-day work streams, habits, and tools.

For Microsoft and Salesforce, long-term competitors in the CRM space, the need to provide daily Microsoft users (e.g. Office, Outlook, SharePoint, etc.) with ways to leverage the power of Salesforce has (at least for now) kept pace with competitive steps like Salesforce’s purchase of online word processing upstart Quip. 

 

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User First

It's tough making SharePoint and Salesforce sing in harmony. After working with several organizations to do this, we’ve learned an important lesson: as the possibilities (and complexities) of integration increase, you must craft a high-quality end-user experience across both systems.

 

Any solution should focus on immediate returns to the end user, rather than long-term enterprise platform savings, because of the volatility of the Salesforce/Microsoft relationship and the massive changes in the CRM and enterprise management software spaces.

 

User-Focused Approach

We defined, configured, and extended the pros of both platforms into a workflow that augments an organization’s operational culture. To design an achievable, scalable, sustainable experience required us to understand the strengths and limitations of each platform.

The interface differences between SharePoint and Salesforce were a source of immense frustration in the past. SharePoint’s list and library-centric architecture did not correspond well to Salesforce’s object and activity-based interaction model. Users could technically share files between the two systems, but they rarely bothered using both. Most end-users were ‘primarily SharePoint’ or ‘primarily Salesforce’ users. While they could share files, other interactions relating to contacts or files remained isolated within each platform.

That was then.

 

This is now:

We leverage newly available integrations to provide a user experience that better supports overall business process, such as:

  • Salesforce App for Outlook
  • Lync (Skype for Business integration)
  • OneNote Integration
  • IQ Inbox for Outlook
  • CloudHQ SharePoint integration

 

HERE’S A QUICK EXAMPLE:

A sales rep receives an email in Outlook on their desktop — they can add this email to a contact in Salesforce, right from the inbox. While on the road, another rep can use their phone to pull up that contact on Salesforce to access the interaction record. The road rep works with the client to get a contract signature. From there, they get a snapshot of the printed piece and add it to the contact record in Salesforce. Here, a Cloud HQ sync will move it to the signed contracts folder in SharePoint.

At any point during these shared system interactions, approval workflows, task creation, and activity tracking works in either system. While seamless integration of key platform features is still far off, we’ve helped people get the best user experience today without wasting effort in unscalable custom development.

Finding a solution that provides a valuable experience for end users who use Outlook, SharePoint, and the Office 365 platform with Salesforce is crucial. Whether you need a fully customized design and taxonomy across all platforms — or a baseline integration that doesn’t frustrate your end users — we can get you started without breaking the bank.

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