Future Integrations of Sales Force Automation Solution
Sales Force Automation (SFA) customers can be categorized into three stages of the automation hierarchy depending on the end objective of their SFA implementation – Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced. In this blog, we will discuss the different stages of SFA implementation and factors to consider before finalizing an SFA solution.
SFA Implementation Stages
If the sole purpose of SFA implementation is to track the field team’s basic details such as daily attendance time, number of calls, and outlet visits, the customer is classified as a Beginner.
When a customer starts tracking business-related data such as orders for the day, outlet-wise sales, and campaign execution status in merchandising deployment, they move to the Intermediate stage.
A customer can be categorized at the Advanced stage when they have a robust IT strategy at the enterprise level that outlines complete sync among all IT systems with 100% data consistency. For example, the client would like distributor stock data to flow from DMS to SFA so that the salesperson can have complete visibility of the current stock while taking orders. They may also want any change in master data in the MDM system to be automatically synchronized in their SFA solution.
Factors to Consider Before Finalizing an SFA Solution
It is necessary for an SFA solution provider to have basic APIs readily available for common scenarios, such as retrieving the daily order quantity by SKU code and customer code. It not only ensures quick integration and low development cost, but it also provides a significant confidence booster to the client as they know that the vendor they are dealing with has their basics perfect.
Flexibility in Integration Approach
A customer may have some limitations in following the best approach because of some legacy system constraints or otherwise. As an example, a client may have a preference for SOAP over REST APIs or may require FTP-based flat file data transfer due to their legacy systems not being compatible with Service Oriented Architecture (SOA). So, it’s essential that the SFA vendor has the flexibility and capability in adopting any approach depending on customer needs.
Integration-friendly Data Structure
It is crucial to conduct a thorough check of the backend data structure of the SFA solution to ensure that it can accommodate all integration requirements in the future. A big setback can occur if the SFA solution selected doesn't have a backend data structure that can accommodate legacy system codes for basic master data entities such as customers, sales reps, or SKUs.
Implementation Team which Understands Integration
Even if the SFA solution has a perfect architecture, data structure, and flexibility, a faulty data mapping exercise can ruin the integration. This is something to be done by stakeholders of both system and hence the implementation team of the SFA vendor has a huge role to play. They should not only be experts in their own system, but they must also understand the data and business need in-depth and have the capability to drive a discussion involving different parties. Finally, they must have enough experience in managing such integration in the past.
In conclusion, customers must have a long-term vision to reach the Advanced stage of SFA implementation. Therefore, it's crucial to select a vendor/solution capable of executing all integration requirements that might come up in the future. By considering the factors mentioned above, customers can ensure seamless integration of their SFA solution to achieve their objectives.