Archive for April, 2008

Has the Salesforce / Google Apps integration affected you?

Now that Salesforce has rolled out their Google Apps integration, I am curious how people are using it.  The curiosity period is past and you should have some anecdotes as to how/whether it has actually improved your productivity.  It’s still early to tell, but any war stories are welcome.

Please comment and let everyone know what you think so far.

  • How has the integration affected your day to day use of Salesforce?
  • What components are really making a difference for you now?
  • What components do you feel will make a big difference once you are able to get its use ingrained in your culture?
  • What (if any) applications have you stopped using as a result of the integration?
  • Have you changed any business processes as a result?  What has improved?
  • What components are “complete” functionality and what is “not quite there yet”?

My experience so far…

The Salesforce Google Apps integration hasn’t changed anything in my day to day use of Salesforce yet.  I’ve been a Google Apps user for about a year, so I was the perfect candidate for it.  What doesn’t make me the perfect candidate is that my collaboration needs are low.  Outlook still dominates my email/calendar life and this new integration hasn’t equaled or beat the existing Salesforce-Outlook integration can do.  My current setup is Outlook as my hub.  Contacts are synced with Salesforce.  Calendar is synced with Google via Google’s Outlook Sync product (it’s crashes/errors too much, but my Google Calendar is not a priority to me).  Email is synced with Google since I connect via IMAP.  The occasional calendar item is synced from Outlook to Salesforce so I can have a record of it there, but I avoid the Salesforce Calendar if I can.  Using Outlook also lets me sync easily with my Blackberry.

Once the gMail integration can do things like link the logged activities to the “What” relationship (Accounts, Opportunities, Cases) as well as the “Who” (Leads & Contacts), I will be much more likely to use it.  Also, something needs adding in the gMail client to save an existing email from Google to Salesforce, including its attachments.  The convenience just isn’t there for me quite yet.

The Google Docs integration is most immediately useful to me.  However, it hasn’t fit into a specific use case for me yet, but I can envision it doing so.  It could be a bit better in keeping things in sync like if I delete the doc from Google, it should delete from Salesforce, but I think that’s asking a bit much right now and I understand why it doesn’t do that.

The report export to Google Docs is interesting to me too and I am sure I will use that at some point.  I know its there and I’ll install it when I need it.  Reality, though, is that Excel is so entrenched in the corporate world and most recipients I work with would rather get an Excel file than a link to a Google Spreadsheet.  I rarely, if ever, am collaborating on a document where it requires mutual updates.  Generally, everyone else is just a viewer.  Thus, emailing an Excel file works for me.

Regarding Google Talk.  It’s nice that it’s there.  I use Trillian on my PC, so I am connected to like 7 different IM accounts at once (3 Google ones).  Having access to one of my Google ones isn’t that big of a help, but it’s nice to know it’s there if I need it.  I keep it on my sidebar, but collapsed.

What about you?

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Do you backup your Salesforce data?

No matter where you store your data, it is always good practice to maintain backups. After all, it is your data and you need to be responsible for it, although we trust 3rd parties to keep it safe and backed up for us too.

When it comes to Salesforce, are you maintaining backups? If so, how? Please comment and enlighten the community on some good options you’ve deployed. Some that spring to mind for me are:

  • Weekly Data Export – Inside Salesforce, Enterprise and Unlimited Edition customers (for a fee, Professional Edition can do this) can request a weekly export of their data. The result is a ZIP of CSV files containing the raw data for each Salesforce object.
  • Custom Script – Write custom code to access Salesforce via the API and grab all the data into your own database. Mike Simonds has some scripts to help get you started if you use PHP.
  • AppExchange Application – Use an AppExchange application to do the dirty work to automate this process. Visit the AppExchange to read about the various solutions.
    • Sesame Software – I find this tool very easy to use and can get your Salesforce data into Oracle, MySQL, SQL Server, etc. in a hurry.
    • CRM Fusion – They have a feature to backup your data directly into MS Access.
    • Other Data Loading/Moving Tool – Pervasive, Informatica, Bluewolf, Apatar and others have solutions to move data from place to place with a connector to Salesforce built in.
  • Do Nothing – Let Salesforce take care of it. They have a proven track record of keeping your data from disaster.
  • Something else?

I wish I personally had a better answer, but I am currently using the “Do Nothing” approach and occasionally make backups to MS Access using Demand Tools “just in case”.

How about you? Experiences, recommendations and general thoughts are welcome in the comments.

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Getting Started with Salesforce for Google Apps

The Salesforce for Google Apps functionality is live now! To get started, go to Setup and find the Google Apps Settings menu.

Google Apps Menu Item

Step 1 is to identify your domain. Your company must have an existing Google Apps business account to do this.

Google Apps Setup Step 1

Step 2 is to enable the features you want. This will be your main control panel for managing these settings.

Google Apps Setup Step 2

Some observations:

  • The Add Google Docs to Salesforce feature is very cool and will be very useful! It adds onto the existing Notes & Attachments related list and lets you create/associate a new Doc, Spreadsheet or Presentation to a record. You can also look for an existing document you have and associate that. I am not sure how it handles access to the document by others. You might have to specifically collaborate with people.

    Add Google Doc to Salesforce

    I did not see any Mail Merge capabilities with this feature.

  • When you enable the Google Docs tab, it adds the tab onto every application you have rather than asking you. You have to edit each application to remove it. This feature is nothing too special. Just a tab to Google Docs. I don’t see any special development Google did on their end to refer to Salesforce in their UI.
  • Enabling Email to Salesforce gives each user a new Email Settings screen where they can edit their personal settings. The idea here is that you BCC a special email address and Apex code will process it and associate the email to your Lead/Contact. I tested it and attachments do not get saved.

    Email to Salesforce Personal Settings

    Email to Salesforce is not limited to Google Apps. The image Salesforce has includes gMail, Outlook and Yahoo! Mail.

    Email to Salesforce Logos

  • Enabling gMail Buttons & Links adds a gMail link to every email address field. When you click it, a gMail window opens to compose a new email. A special Salesforce email address is BCCed on the message so that it will be processed right into Salesforce for you and associated with the record.

    Gmails Buttons & Links Setup

    Gmails Buttons & Links Result

  • Enabling the Google Talk Sidebar Component puts the same Google Talk widget you see in gMail on the Salesforce sidebar. I opted to keep this turned off as I’ll keep using my Trillian client. This feature is not pulling Contact names into gTalk. It’s simply putting your current gTalk contact list on the sidebar. You’d add people the same way as if this integration never existed.
  • I didn’t try any of the 3rd party apps. At first glance the Calendar Sync and Report Collaboration sound the most interesting.

What do you think about the new functionality?

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Salesforce & Google Apps Integration Announced

The Salesforce / Google Apps integration news is coming out now. You can cut to the chase by watching the Salesforce Video on YouTube (embedded below), which explains how it works.

Salesforce’s main announcement page is

The permanent Salesforce product page is

Some of the notable sites are tracking it too. I am sure there will be lots more by morning.:

Some highlights:

  • I believe this is offered free to all Salesforce users
  • Save email right to Salesforce like you can do with the Outlook Connector already. Not sure if it has 100% of this functionality such as Attachment saves.
  • Generate Google Docs, Spreadsheets and Presentations right from Salesforce and have them linked to your records. The Google Docs side will allow for strong collaboration and the linkage to Salesforce will ensure that everyone is working off the right document. I was unable to tell via the video if you can do Mail Merge to Google Docs like you can with MS Word.
  • Google Chat is embedded in the Salesforce sidebar allowing you to chat with people right from within Salesforce
  • Sync your Salesforce & Google Calendar via a 3rd party app
  • Export your Reports to Google Spreadsheets with a 3rd party app

Check out the new Google Apps category on AppExchange to see all the 3rd party apps.

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Salesforce vs. Microsoft CRM Shootout

Keep an eye on the Paul Greenberg’s blog. A while back he issued a challenge to Salesforce and Microsoft to configure the application in an effort to compare the configuration capabilities of the 2 systems. Both have agreed to it. Should be interesting.

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