WAYS TO INTEGRATE
SALESFORCE.COM WITH SAP3 A guide to help you decide the right approach for your business
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1 Introduction: Why integrate?
2 Key considerations
3 Deciding which approach is best for your business
4 Option 1: Point-to-point integration
5 Option 2: SAP NetWeaver Process Orchestration (SAP PO)
6 Option 3: Integration Platform as a Service (iPaaS)
If your organisation needs to manage a relatively high volume of sales transactions every month
then it makes sense to ensure that your CRM and ERP systems talk to one another.
Integration can save a lot of time by automating many of the processes needed to ensure vital sales
information is flowing through your business. Without it, even something as basic as adding a new
customer to your core back-office systems can add a significant amount of administration and margin
for error. If every time Sales has to email the information to Accounts for them to manually enter the
new record into ERP, a great deal of unnecessary time will be added to the process.
Without integration you won’t have a single view of the customer. This means the sales-related data
your back-office teams will be using will not be consistent with the real status of your sales activities.
This is an age-old problem that has been heightened by the increased number of channels (Web,
Interaction Centre, Sales team etc) through which customer data is managed in many organisations
today. Without a number of manual workarounds, the wider enterprise won’t have clear visibility of
the sales pipeline and vital information that operational, delivery and finance teams need for their
own forecasting is missing.
Introduction: Why integrate?
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Without integration you
won’t have a single view
of the customer. This
means the sales-related
data your back-office
teams will be using will
not be consistent with the
real status of your sales
With SAP being one of the most
widely used ERP solutions and
Salesforce the clear market leader in
CRM, integration between the two
is a common requirement. However,
it is also one of the first areas that
companies have had to think about
connecting an on-premise system
to a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) or
A different integration challenge
therefore requires a different
approach, and there are a number of
options available. Deciding which path
is best for your business is typically the
first major hurdle to overcome.
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In the following sections we look at the 3 main ways you can integrate Salesforce with SAP, summarising the
pros and cons of each along with the typical scenarios that fit best with each approach.
BUSINESS GOALS: An in-depth understanding and alignment from key stakeholders on what outcomes need to be
achieved through the Salesforce to SAP integration.
ONGOING MAINTENANCE PROVISIONS: Forward-planning to ensure that new releases and upgrades from Salesforce
(which are out of your control) don’t create system failures and can instead adapt quickly to take advantage of new
functionality. Also, how will Salesforce be impacted by any planned developments in your broader SAP enterprise strategy?
INTEGRATION REQUIREMENTS: A detailed review of the functional needs of the system and how this will impact
the various layers of application; data, network connectivity and authentication. Key areas to think about include
understanding SAP patch levels, network layout, processing modes (batch or real-time) and infrastructure security
(e.g. firewall rules and encryption).
ENTERPRISE DYNAMICS: A holistic view of the various factors that will guide and impact implementation and
maintenance, as well as end-users. These include your existing IT and application integration strategy, process design,
master data management, data regulations, security and encryption, user interfaces, access from multiple devices,
location and compliance.
Deciding which option is right for you largely depends on four main considerations:
This approach creates tightly bound connections between the two applications and can be initiated
efficiently, often using internal resources. In its basic form this option provides a simple integration
architecture. It is an approach that will have probably been used elsewhere for other application
integration use cases and is a little more familiar.
The downside of point-to-point is that while each individual connection might be relatively
straightforward, as the number of integrations increase, so too does the overall complexity of the
landscape. It also creates rigid dependencies between the two systems, resulting in a more easily
breakable and less secure environment. It can also prove costly and resource intensive, as any
changes that need to be made often require the coordination of many different teams both functional
and technical, across both platforms.
Direct, point-to-point integration involves writing custom code to unify the two different systems. This has been the more traditional approach for system-to-system
integration, and has been utilised by organisations historically to integrate Salesforce and SAP when no other credible alternatives existed.
The approach typically limits the improvements that
can be achieved therefore reducing the overall benefits
of any integration. However, if you have relatively
straightforward requirements and no major plans to
add further enhancements, it could be a viable option.
Point-to-point is now seen by many as an outdated
approach, but if you have a low number of sales
transactions and some fairly ad hoc or short-term needs
(such as automating basic file extraction for migration to
Salesforce), it might just be the best approach.
The approach typically limits the
improvements that can be achieved
therefore reducing the overall benefits
of any integration.
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OPTION 1: Point-to-point integration
Using SAP PO to integrate Salesforce with SAP is an approach that a
number of organisations have deployed successfully. If you have already
invested in the toolset, have skilled resources that know how to get the
most out of it and have a support network in place you are starting from a
SAP PO provides a more flexible solution to point-to-point, which means the
scope of what can be achieved is much greater. While SAP does not provide
a specific adapter for Salesforce there is now a third-party adapter available.
This handles some of the security aspects of connectivity with Salesforce
and provides a workbench to enable API compliant formats to be generated.
While SAP PO enables greater business benefits than the previous approach, its major
drawbacks are that it often comes with high upfront costs and may take many months, even
years to fully implement SAP PO within an enterprise – usually because you are starting from
SAP PO can adapt to updates in Salesforce functionality, but it is still an on-premise solution
that was developed before Cloud became prevalent in the enterprise. Such tools were built
to integrate everything that lived behind the firewall before Software as a Service (SaaS)
applications were fully conceived. Tools like SAP PO were therefore not developed to
seamlessly accommodate regular 3rd party releases of new SaaS functionality. This means that
they will always require a high degree of manual effort to support.
If you have an SAP-focused landscape there is a reasonable chance that it includes an SAP PO system. SAP PO (also known as SAP PI and SAP XI) is SAP’s on-
premise enterprise application integration (EAI) software that enables connectivity between SAP ERP and third party systems. It is an approach that is built on open
standards and service orientated architecture (SOA) and uses adaptors to enable process-centric collaboration between SAP and non-SAP applications.
If your organisation has already invested heavily in SAP PO, is perhaps running the latest version (e.g. 7.3.1 or 7.4), and possess a strong skill-set in-house, then this is probably
the most feasible option. This is especially the case if your needs are fairly simple and there is no real ambition to continually update Salesforce functionality much beyond the
point at which you start, or to expand the footprint of SaaS applications within your business.
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OPTION 2: SAP NetWeaver Process Orchestration (SAP PO)
A good iPaaS solution encompasses easy-to-use design and visualisation tools, batch and real-time integration
services, a robust API framework and high levels of security. As the platforms are accessed via the Cloud you are
always on the latest version, which means you have a wide range of out-of-the box connectors at your disposal that
are regularly updated. You will therefore always be able to take advantage of any improvements within Salesforce,
and you won’t be caught out by any changes that are made. This keeps your business future-proof and enables you
to grow as your needs develop, rather than being restricted by outdated and out-of-support technology as many
companies are today.
iPaaS typically offers intuitive drag-and-drop development tools and intelligent APIs that make integration much
easier enabling projects to be completed in days, not months or years, whilst carrying a much lower cost of ownership.
iPaaS is still an emerging, next-generation integration approach, so finding experienced people with accredited
skills can be a challenge. Despite a short learning curve, it can mean less competent developers are learning on
the job. Some organisations, such as financial institutions, may be cautious about running Cloud applications - so
using a remote build environment running in the Cloud may also be a step too far.
An iPaaS is a Cloud service that allows you to connect different applications together. These applications can be on-premise, Cloud hosted or SaaS – you can even securely
connect your services to external parties and enable B2B integration via these platforms. An iPaaS will help you move away from isolated Cloud solutions by integrating
them with each other, as well as on-premise systems if you have a hybrid landscape.
iPaaS offers robust, pre-built features to
integrate the most popular Cloud applications,
such as Salesforce with widely adopted
enterprise applications such as SAP. Its strength
is in delivering efficient integrations that are
quick to develop and deploy, with minimal
coding effort. It is therefore ideal for companies
looking for the lowest possible time-to-value
when integrating Salesforce with SAP, as it is
undoubtedly the quickest and most cost-efficient
If you have plans to do a lot of integration
between SAP and Salesforce, have a Cloud-first
IT strategy and have no mandates restricting you
to conform to a wider on-premise application
strategy, then iPaaS is the obvious choice.
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OPTION 3: Integration Platform as a Service (iPaaS)
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Deciding the best approach for integrating Salesforce with SAP is a dilemma for
many companies. There are a number of factors to consider and sometimes the most
practical route isn’t always ‘practical’. Whist it may appear ill-advised to tackle new
integration challenges with old integration products, you may have no choice.
Before deciding, you need to answer some fundamental questions. What does your
organisation really want from integration? What parameters must you adhere to? How
quickly do you need to start realising benefits? And what budget are you working to?
We hope this eBook has helped you think through the key things
to consider. It is an area that we are following closely so please
look out for future updates on our website and blog.
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We work with large enterprises that need to become more agile in the digital
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We work with large
enterprises that need
to become more agile
in the digital age and
thrive in a world of