Salesforce provides a variety of native options for building workflows that interact with its various cloud services, the main one being Force.com. Force.com is a leading low-code platform in its own right but wasn’t designed with process automation (workflow) as its core purpose. Salesforce Workflow and Lightning Process Builder are also great tools but may not meet requirements for architecting and building enterprise-class workflows that need to span disparate systems, on-premises applications, and cloud services.
Beyond Salesforce’s own portfolio of tools are third-party workflow extensions that allow you to do sophisticated process automation—i.e. build enterprise-class Salesforce workflows. Such tools typically work by allowing you to push and pull data in and out of Salesforce via API calls and rely on an external engine to process requests and instructions. These third-party engines in turn rely on IFrames to surface forms, dashboards, and management consoles in Salesforce. Along with a number of other BPMS and low-code-platform vendors, AgilePoint has been offering this level of interactive functionality for a few years now.
One question many will ask is this: If I can already build really sophisticated “Salesforce workflows” that incorporate other enterprise technologies, what more could I want?
The short answer to that question is this: the elimination of API calls.
Limitations with the Old-School, API approach
Aside from performance and security issues related to IFrames, perhaps the biggest problem with pushing and pulling Salesforce-based data for workflow purposes is the sheer volume of API calls this approach requires.
The Problem of Event Listeners
Simple workflows might exist independently within a Salesforce universe, but complex workflows often have to span a number of departments; on-premises, line-of-business systems; custom applications; and disparate cloud services. Consequently, a single master workflow could trigger any number of sub-processes involving one or more of these other systems, and any of these sub-processes might itself trigger additional sub-processes elsewhere within the enterprise. To make all of this work, “listeners” have to monitor events within all these different software assets, so that the left hand knows what the right hand is doing, so to speak.
These listeners will likely report back to the process engine in real time, as events occur. Any of these events may require that information to be pushed or pulled from Salesforce, and each such event would require an API call.
The Polling Problem
Beyond external events requiring a call to Salesforce, there could be any number of reasons why sub-processes running in other line-of-business systems need to check to see if something within Salesforce has changed. For this reason, these external applications will require that the process engine continually poll Salesforce for changes. Again, each of these “polls” requires an API call.
In large enterprises running hundreds or thousands of workflows in parallel, the sheer number of polls required could run into tens of thousands per day, far exceeding Salesforce’s API quota.
AgilePoint’s Native Salesforce Workflow Solution
New from AgilePoint is the AgilePoint NX app for Salesforce (Winter 2017). This App solves all of the problems with the IFrame/API-call approach to integration, eliminating entirely the need for both.
Enterpise-Class BPMS in Salesforce
The AgilePoint NX App (available in AppExchange) enables AgilePoint forms, dashboards, and management consoles to run natively within Salesforce, in essence, creating a dynamic link between Salesforce and other technologies throughout an enterprise that are incorporated into Salesforce workflows. Likewise, the new integration allows workflows originating in other systems to seamlessly interact with Salesforce, again, without IFrames or API calls.
Because AgilePoint NX run-time and management assets, in essence, live within Salesforce, changes in Salesforce automatically trigger workflows that cascade throughout the enterprise, carrying out any number and variety of automated tasks. Likewise, when listeners throughout the enterprise detect events relevant to Salesforce, Salesforce and its users are immediately notified.
Among the benefits of continuous, real-time interactivity is visibility: people who live in other line-of-business systems can always be aware of changes anywhere in the enterprise, including in Salesforce. And people who live in Salesforce can track the effects of their events in Salesforce across the enterprise.
The new Salesforce integration, in essence, enables you to transform your enterprise into a true digital ecosystem, where events anywhere in the enterprise trigger cascading workflows that ripple throughout the enterprise. And because Salesforce is often the primary system of record for enterprise data, it makes sense that Salesforce sits at the center of the digital ecosystem.
While there are a virtually unlimited number of Salesforce workfows that could cascade throughout an enterprise ecosystem, I’ll highlight just a few examples:
- Marking a Salesforce opportunity as closed triggers the beginning of the fulfillment cycle, the processing of an invoice, and inventory-related transactions and processes, any and all of which will involve other systems.
- A digital signature on a contract triggers a notification in Salesforce for the account manager.
- Changes in Salesforce for Sales Forecast cascade down to your ERP system, initiating supply chain modifications and manufacturing scheduling.
To learn more about AgilePoint NX’s new integration with Salesforce, call or email today.