If you believe integrating your FinancialForce PSA solution means you no longer need manual data extracts, that’s understandable. The truth is, there will always be situations when you will need data extracts to get and share with others or other systems, formatted in a way that requires minimal overhead and effort. For example:
- During transition to an automated integration, there will be a period of time when you will need to simulate the automation
- Your business process changes resulting in the need for historical data access/review
- Periodic audits to ensure systems are synchronized, and follow-up remediation if needed
Using data extract tools offered by the SalesForce platform, you can make your data extraction process more efficient and better support your integration goals.
Three Tools for Generating Integration Efficiencies
Here are three tools and techniques that we at TOP Step Consulting like to use and recommend for supporting system integration and make the process more efficient.
1. SalesForce Reports
You may already be very familiar with using Salesforce reports. However, if you build reports to support system integration, you’ll make the process run much smoother by starting from the bottom up.
Often reports are generated in a top-down manner. For a timecard report, for instance, a user might choose Projects, then Milestones, then Timecards. This top-down approach causes challenges in using the data extraction based on how the data is structured and organized.
If you start from the bottom-up, you may start directly with a flat timecard report, and then use the edit layout function to create new sections. You can then use add fields related by a lookup to select assignment fields. You can drag these between Assignment and Project fields to generate clean reporting categories, and then drag the Account ID folder to the Account field to create a well-organized database of timecard information by account ID. This allows for surgical use of data in report building.
2. Browser Extensions
One of the most useful tools for report building is a Google Chrome extension called SalesForce Inspector. If you’re familiar with the Force.com quick access menu, SalesForce Inspector adds functionality using an identical tab that can identify APIs and export data, making report generation extraordinarily simple.
With nothing more than the name of the API you need to access, and a little bit of knowledge of Salesforce Object Query Language (SOQL), you can access any list of data within any field type with a few easy clicks. You can apply logic to the extracted data, filter for specific values, and add emphasis on specific data categories. There is no limit to the type of data manipulation SalesForce Inspection makes possible.
For extraction, it is more convenient than Dataloader or Workbench, which can only obtain one record at a time, even though their point-and-click interfaces are easier to use.
3. Input Date-Time Data
Once you are familiar with the bottom-up report generation capabilities of SalesForce and the data extraction capabilities of SalesForce Inspector, you can use just about any spreadsheet program to make highly precise data extraction sheets.
In order to get the most out of data extractions to support system integrations, add in a few manual fields to your spreadsheet. You can capture the last date that a record was transmitted or updated, and then create a date-time field to capture that data. This will prove very useful in both automated and manual integrations, since you can now audit results based on a huge range of time stamped data extracts.
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