Enterprise Integration (Salesforce, SAP, IFS Alliance, OpenText)
Speeding Time to Revenue through Enterprise Integration
Enterprise integration speeds time to revenue. Who doesn’t want to cut time to revenue? We all want to speed up the sales cycle, speed up the booking process, speed up the manufacturing / service delivery process, and get to invoicing as soon as possible. And for those of us using OpenText Content Suite, we’ve got a solid and reliable platform to serve as our content repository.
Like many of our readers, we’ve implemented multiple enterprise systems to address parts of the whole process including vendor invoice management systems, sales and marketing systems, manufacturing and inventory management systems, etc. And each of those systems delivered on their promise to cut costs and increase revenue to a lesser or greater degree. For the most part, of course, they are silo applications, not integrated across the entire process of generating revenue. That’s where enterprise integration comes in.
How does integrating and automating across those enterprise systems strike you? Would it be valuable to cut processing time by linking from system to system? Would that decrease your time to revenue? Does an automated end-to-end process appeal to you? Then this series is for you! (Interested in automating Accounts Payable / invoice processing? Here’s a related post on Vendor Invoice Management.)
We recently helped a client using enterprise integration to connect Salesforce, SAP, Alliance (a field service management solution offered by IFS), and the OpenText xECM Platform (Content Suite). Before, each system operated in its own silo with limited integration. Today, quotations from Salesforce flow to SAP to kick off their order process. From SAP, sales orders enable manufacturing scheduling and execution while service orders flow to Alliance to manage service delivery in the field. Once invoicing is authorized, completed invoices from SAP flow to the invoicing solution. And, in the background, the OpenText xECM Platform (Content Suite) is the repository for all the unstructured content, with each enterprise system putting and getting content from Content Suite: Content in Context.
(Interested in integrating other systems such as Taulia, Vertex, SAP, and OpenText Content Suite? Here’s a related post on Early Pay Discounts through enterprise integration.)
In this first post, we’ll provide an overview of the process that we integrated across enterprise applications while in subsequent posts we’ll share details around each of the enterprise systems.
Our client uses Salesforce to improve sales efficiency including speeding up and standardizing quoting, contracting, and ordering. Where in the past substantial time and effort was required to produce quotes, make contract revisions, and produce correct orders for downstream fulfillment in SAP, much of that work is now automated. Importantly, we integrated Salesforce with Content Suite using xECM for Salesforce so that the many documents created during the sales cycle are automatically and securely stored in Content Suite, and thereby become available for downstream use through connected workspaces. As an example, site surveys, prospect checklists, and related records that detail customer expectations as well as the commitments our client has made during the sales cycle are fully documented and safely stored in Content Suite and become accessible to the Field Service team when they go out to perform the work downstream in the process.
Another interesting component that our client relies upon is the Salesforce Configure Price Quote (CPQ) solution. It too is integrated, archiving released quotes to the appropriate connected workspace in Content Suite.
For each quote, we create a connected workspace in Content Suite from Salesforce and then we create another connected workspace from SAP – importantly the content is shared across those workspaces.
In a future post, we’ll elaborate on how we implemented xECM for Salesforce to deliver tight integration with Salesforce including CPQ and illustrate the value that connected workspaces provide.
Our client relies on Biztalk, a popular enterprise application integration toolset, to manage timely metadata transfer among the enterprise systems and to initiate processing in each of those systems. For example, when a quote is completed in Salesforce, the metadata from the quote is automatically delivered through Biztalk to SAP to initiate the processing of the related sales order and service order.
Note that Biztalk transfers metadata, the structured content, while Content Suite manages the related documents, the unstructured content.
As with many companies that have implemented SAP, much of our client’s back-office functions are automated through various SAP modules. One of their challenges, however, was that Salesforce users often did not have the latest documents relating to orders, particularly for complex orders where detail changes are common. Furthermore, a significant part of their process includes field services which are managed within Alliance. While Alliance had previously been integrated with SAP through Biztalk (passing metadata and initiating processes), document updates were not available in that system either. Leveraging xECM for SAP and our integration skills, we helped our client make the latest documents available in both SAP and Alliance, thus assuring that users could quickly access documents and have a common understanding of requirements.
In a future post, we’ll elaborate on how we leveraged xECM for SAP to deliver seamless access to the latest documents in both SAP and Alliance.
OpenText Content Suite
OpenText Content Suite serves as the enterprise repository for all unstructured content. It is the “glue”, the institutional memory documenting the intricate details of the sales process, the order process, and the services process. We implemented multiple connected and shared workspaces, a hierarchy of connected workspaces which makes it easy for users to access the content that they need from within the application in which they perform their work:
- salespeople work exclusively in Salesforce,
- order processing and manufacturing people work in SAP, and
- services people work in Alliance
but all users have access to documents related to their part of the process and those documents are available from inside their application: content in context.
Each application and team have their own view of content implemented through tailored connected workspaces. This approach automates most of the security and access control as well as presenting both content and the related metadata in a manner appropriate to each use case.
In a future post, we’ll layout the connected workspaces hierarchy and share a bit about how those connected workspaces make it far easier for staff to access the correct information.