Salesforce Sharepoint Integration – Benefits, Process and Challenges

Sudeep Srivastava June 7, 2024
salesforce sharepoint integration

In the fast-paced business world that businesses operate in, integration of multiple self-complementing technologies and platforms is no more a trend but a necessity. This article details the nuances of creating a synergy between two tech giants – Salesforce and SharePoint. By combining the robust document management capabilities of SharePoint with Salesforce’s customer relationship management, businesses bring themselves one step closer to unlocking massive levels of collaboration and productivity.

If you are planning to establish Salesforce SharePoint integration, but are unsure of the benefits it would offer the process, and the challenges that can emerge in the process, your questions will get answered here.

[Also Read: Salesforce integration solutions – Key benefits, features, and approaches]

Is SharePoint Integration with Salesforce Even Necessary?

While Salesforce does offer document upload and maintenance functionalities, it doesn’t come free from limitations. To solve this before it starts impacting productivity, companies start looking for documents-based collaboration systems like SharePoint for storing their documents and managing company-wide collaborations.

But is this integration really necessary? Well, here’s what happens when you keep your processes limited to Salesforce.

  1. File size – Salesforce comes with two options to upload documents – “Attachments” which enables uploading of data up to 25 MB, and “File” which allows data upload up to 2 GB. Data allocation and document management of a data size any bigger than this, can directly increase the storage costs and hinder the system performance over time because of the platform’s multitenant architecture.
  2. Document accessibility and privacy – Sharing Salesforce documents with non-Salesforce users can only be possible through a public URL. This, however, comes laced with issues with GDPR compliances and other data security laws, since the document is getting shared publicly. A solution for this is to get additional licenses for non-Salesforce users – something that can be an expensive affair.
  3. Real-time syncing – The changes made in the users’ local drive do not automatically get synced with Salesforce files and vice versa. The only option that users have is to upload/download and then replace the file with the new version.

While in this scenario, SharePoint is not even in the picture, there can be another event where businesses are using both Salesforce and SharePoint, but they are not integrated. Here are the issues associated with that approach.

  1. Flawed process – Since the vendors, customers, and partners’ contracts work around the same approval process, they tend to get automated within one workflow management solution like SharePoint. Now when it comes to contract approvals, Salesforce users have to shift from CRM to SharePoint, and vice versa.
  2. Glitchy team collaboration – While the customer records are stored on Salesforce, their collaboration happens on both SharePoint and Salesforce. As a result, Salesforce users tend to lose time in switching between the systems to keep in touch with their teams.
  3. Document duplication –  Another challenge that comes with the lack of Salesforce integration with SharePoint is that the sales team generally has to download documents from SharePoint and then upload them in Salesforce every time they have to share them with their team or clients. This process, oftentimes, leads to document duplication in two systems, which leads to a file version mess.
  4. Content desertion – Sales teams can copy SharePoint files’ links in Salesforce, but they won’t be able to preview them in or even find them in the Salesforce Global search. As a result, the content that might have been valuable for customers’ communication gets buried inside SharePoint libraries.

Breakdown barriers between your CRM and document management system

Now that we have looked into the side effects of not having SharePoint and Salesforce integration, let us look into the visible benefits of establishing one before we move to the integration steps.

What are Some Key SharePoint and Salesforce Integration Benefits?

The SharePoint document management system integrated with Salesforce brings massive benefits to businesses looking to improve collaboration between the service and sales teams while managing data handling efficiently. The combined capabilities of Salesforce as a CRM and SharePoint as a document management and file storage platform complement each other perfectly.

Benefits of Integrating Salesforce and SharePoint

Improved Team Collaboration

SharePoint and Salesforce integration betters collaboration between not just the sales and service teams but also other domains like marketing and legal. Let’s look at this through examples.

Scenario 1 – Imagine a sales executive and content writer is tasked with creating a client proposal. With the help of SharePoint integration with Salesforce, changes made by the sales executive on the writer’s document will be reflected in real time for all the team members (with document access) to see. This would ensure that everyone is on the same page and the risk of version control gets reduced.

Scenario 2 – The legal team reviews and then approves a contract stored in SharePoint after which the sales executive can view those changes in Salesforce instantly. This can help the sales team be updated when sharing important updates with their clients.

Document Security

The Salesforce SharePoint integration gives businesses access to SharePoint’s robust security features like teams, roles, and permission levels which helps them adhere to compliance laws like HIPAA and GDPR, etc. The platform comes with another feature where expiration dates can be set for specific files, this way third-party vendors will not be able to access the file after the expiration date.

Analytics and Reporting

SharePoint Salesforce integration ensures easy analytical and reporting capabilities as the data that comes from both platforms can be combined to get insights into sales performance, document usage, and customer interactions. For example, with the help of the SharePoint Online Reporting and Auditing tool, teams can analyze the documents that are frequently accessed in the sales process – giving them insights into the resources that had the biggest impact on deal closing or customer issues redressal.

[Also Read: A Complete Guide on Data Science & Analytics for Businesses]

Better Load Balancing

One of the key benefits of Salesforce integration with SharePoint lies in the improvement in load balancing. The individual use of both platforms puts a lot of load on the systems leading to increased downtime and slow performance. Their integration, however, enables the sharing of data and files between two platforms leading to better load balancing, and zero resource wastage because of duplication and multiple copies maintenance.

These four are only the high-level benefits associated with Salesforce and SharePoint integration. On a more day-by-day process and workflow level, several other advantages come to the surface such as – external sharing controls, better data management, improved productivity, and scalability.

The probability of witnessing these benefits in your organization, however, depends entirely on how well you perform Salesforce SharePoint integration. Before we get to that section, let us give you a brief look into the four guiding principles that can assure the success of the process.

The Guiding Principles of SharePoint Salesforce Integration

In today’s digital economy, document management system integrated with salesforce plays a very crucial role in building an effective and efficient organization. Ensuring that your company can achieve this will require you to follow some guiding principles.

  1. Data Residency – It should be ensured that data is within its pre-specified geographic borders: where they have been created, where it will be accessed, and where it will be stored. This becomes all the more important when you have to adhere to compliances around privacy and data storage.
  2. Security – Your SharePoint Salesforce integration should keep security as the top priority. While both platforms come with a robust security algorithm, you should pay attention to file accessibility permissions and their usage tracking.
  3. Data Architecture – The data you use, including data architecture, should be logically organized and structured to get the most out of the integration process. This usually comprises labeling, categorizing, and linking related data points across both Salesforce and SharePoint
  4. Data Sharing – After the data has been well-organized and stored, the next step that comes is planning their access and distribution. To address this, SharePoint comes with a series of features such as adding expiration dates in documents, a dashboard to view and track who accessed a document, etc.

With the Salesforce SharePoint integration principles now discussed, let us dive into the process of how you can connect the two platforms and if there are any limitations that you should prepare for.

The Step-by-Step of SharePoint Integration with Salesforce

When you get to the process of Salesforce to SharePoint integration, you will typically get three options – Using Files Connect, Getting a custom integration tool made, and Using third-party platforms to connect the two platforms.

Let us explore all the three options here.

3 Ways for Salesforce-SharePoint Integration

Salesforce Files Connect SharePoint Method

  1. Open Salesforce AppExchange and search for “Files Connect.” Next, click on the “Get It Now” button to begin installation.
  2. After installation, you will now have to grant permissions by getting to the “Permission Sets” section in the Salesforce setup menu and selecting “Files Connect.” From here, you can assign necessary user permissions, such as the ability to view, edit, and delete files.
  3. Next, establish an authentication provider by navigating to “Authentication Provider” and selecting “Files Connect.” From here, you can create and manage the needed settings like authentication type and users granted access.
  4. After this, you have to configure the SharePoint account. Get to the “SharePoint” section and then select “Files Connect.” You can now feed in the necessary information, like the login credentials and SharePoint URL.
  5. It’s now time to configure the developed application. For that, go to the “Develop” section of the Salesforce setup menu and then select “Files Connect.” From here, you can now configure the needed settings, like the type of integration and the data that will be shared between the systems.
  6. The next crucial step for Salesforce to Sharepoint integration is to set up the Salesforce Files Connect tool. Get to the “Setup” section in the Salesforce menu and go to “Files Connect.” Now, you can configure settings like the integration type and the data that will be shared between the systems.
  7. The last step of Salesforce SharePoint integration is to build a link between the two platforms. To establish that, get to the “External Data Sources” section in the Salesforce setup menu and go to “Files Connect.” At this point, you can easily configure settings such as the integration type and the data that will be shared between the systems.

While this is the most applied form of Salesforce and SharePoint integration, there are some worrying limitations of Files Connect, such as restricted external system support, no upload option, no permission control, complexity in external sharing, latency, search limitations, etc.

Third-Party Salesforce to SharePoint Integration Applications

Several third-party connectors are aimed at solving Files Connect restrictions. Let us look at a tabular view of the comparison between Files Connect and them.

FactorsFiles ConnectThird-party Apps
CostIncluded in SalesforceCome with additional licensing or subscription costs
File Management FunctionalitiesSupport basic file management with limited features – users can view, download, and interact with the external filesMay have advanced features like automation, file tracking, analytics, and collaboration controls
Complexity of FeaturesStreamlined functionality which enables basic file management and collaborationCan provide specialized and advanced-grade feature sets
Customization and AutomationLimited customization and automation because of a tight link with SalesforceMay allow extensive customization and automation opportunities
Sharing and CollaborationSecure, controlled access to external files through Salesforce – with limited features and controlAdditional sharing and collaboration features with better customizations
Scope of TrainingFamiliar to Salesforce usersRequires training around new applications
Security & CompliancesAligned with Salesforce standards, which ensures data protection and integrityVaries based on app providers’ practices and certifications
Syncing and MigrationNative syncing capabilities – simplify data migration and file syncing between Salesforce and SharePointAdditional setup and configuration will be needed

Custom SharePoint Salesforce Integration Tool

The last option that businesses generally opt for when performing Salesforce and SharePoint online integration, is to build a custom tool. Partnering with a software development services provider like Appinventiv can give you the skillset you would need for custom integration that addresses every complexity and restriction of Files Connect and third-party software.

Integrate Salesforce and SharePoint in a way that's tailored to your organization's workflows

Now that you know the three options you would typically get when planning SharePoint integration with Salesforce, we wanted to prepare you for some common challenges that might emerge irrespective of which integration model you choose.

Commonly Occurring Challenges with SharePoint Salesforce Integration and the Ways to Overcome Them

Integrating SharePoint with Salesforce can be a complex journey for a lot of businesses that lack the technicalities of combining the two massive platforms.

Data Migration

Migrating data from Salesforce to SharePoint or vice versa can be an extremely complex and time-consuming task since businesses must ensure that their data has been properly formatted, organized, and migrated without any duplication or correctness errors. To overcome this issue, they can make use of third-party data migration tools or even hire specialized data migration services to help with the approach.

Data Security

Ensuring that sensitive data is thoroughly protected and access is only restricted to authorized users is key to a successful Salesforce SharePoint integration. We recommend addressing this through the application of security features like firewalls, encryption, and access controls.

Customization

Customizing the integration and its result is extremely difficult when you take the Files Connect route. The lack of one is what leads to businesses either going with a third-party solution or partnering with a software development firm that would help build a custom integration tool.

Ready to elevate your Salesforce-SharePoint integration experience

With this, we have looked at all the different facets of Salesforce SharePoint integration. For a quick sum-up, we touched base on how the Salesforce document management feature alone cannot suffice the requirements of a growing business along with the reasons for this. Next, we looked at some top benefits of the integration, the details of options you would have when combining the two, and lastly the challenges that you might come across.

How Can Appinventiv Help with Salesforce Sharepoint Integration?

At Appinventiv, we understand that every business growth team is looking for a solution to be more productive and outcome-oriented – something that the Salesforce and SharePoint integration promises. But even in this integration, some obvious limitations can be resolved by using a custom solution. This is where our expertise comes in.

We have the technical know-how and business sense to understand your basic, everyday problems that are surfacing because of a lack of integration and have the technical solutions to not just solve them but even build upon the capabilities of both platforms.

Get in touch with our integration experts today to find a customized and more effective integration solution for combining the two powerful business software.

FAQs

Q. Is Salesforce similar to SharePoint?

A. While Salesforce has some document management functionalities, in essence, it is a CRM platform. On the other hand, the main selling point of SharePoint is that it is a document management and storage system.

Q. What is the benefit of Salesforce SharePoint integration?

A. There are several benefits associated with the integration of Salesforce and SharePoint. Here are the top ones:

  • Improved Team Collaboration
  • Document Security
  • Analytics and Reporting
  • Better Load Balancing
  • External Sharing Controls
  • Better Data Management
  • Improved Productivity
  • Higher Scalability, and more.

Q. Is Files Connect the only option to connect the two platforms?

A. While Files Connect is the most used method of integration, it is not the only way. You can also use third-party integration tools or create a custom platform that has the integration capabilities.

THE AUTHOR
Sudeep Srivastava
Co-Founder and Director
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