Implementing Salesforce for Outlook [Tech Tips]

Integrating Salesforce.com and Outlook - New Features

Salesforce for Outlook is an application that integrates Microsoft Outlook with Salesforce.com and automatically syncs contacts, tasks and events between them. It replaces Connect for Outlook (now a legacy application). Salesforce for Outlook seems to run more smoothly and efficiently than Connect for Outlook, and it includes a number of new features, the coolest of which is the new Salesforce Side Panel.

Following are some highlights and things to consider when implementing Salesforce for Outlook:

Capabilities and Considerations

When setting up the Salesforce-Outlook sync, it is important for system administrators to understand the options and implications. Before activating the syncing functionality, especially for contacts, administrators should develop a plan for how their organization wants to sync data from their users’ local Outlook applications to Salesforce.com.

Syncing contact data between Outlook and Salesforce.com can quickly create many duplicate contact records in your organization’s Salesforce instance. To prevent creation of duplicates in Salesforce.com, Salesforce for Outlook can be configured to only sync one way (from Salesforce to Outlook), or can be left inactive for syncing contacts. If left inactive, Salesforce for Outlook can still be used to add emails to a lead, contact, account, or opportunity record in Salesforce.com, right from the Salesforce Side Panel in Outlook. Generally, two-way syncing for Tasks and Events is fine and does not create duplicates.

New Features

After configuration and activation, Salesforce for Outlook syncs automatically at regular intervals:

  • Salesforce for Outlook associates contacts to related Salesforce Accounts automatically, if the Outlook contact has a matching email address and the Company field is populated. *
  • Administrators set up configurations to control what data syncs and in which direction. Multiple configurations can be created and assigned to different groups of users, depending on the user’s sync requirements.
  • Users can choose whether to sync items marked as “Private” in Outlook.

What We Like

Automatic syncing and sync configurations

The automatic syncing functionality and the ability to customize sync configurations are huge improvements and great new features of Salesforce for Outlook. Administrators can tailor sync configurations to fit their requirements, and create multiple configurations to accommodate groups of users with varying synchronization needs.

Salesforce Side Panel

The new Salesforce Side Panel (which administrators activate in the Outlook Configuration settings) is a significant advancement in the usability and utility of integration between Salesforce and Outlook. The side panel allows users to view Contact, Account, Lead, and Opportunity details from Salesforce.com right alongside their Inbox in Outlook. Users can then add the selected email to any of those records in Salesforce.com with a single click. The side panel also includes a search feature, allowing users to search through their Salesforce.com instance in the case that the side panel does not pull up the expected records.

Room for Improvement

Adding and syncing individual contacts

Currently, users cannot select contacts individually in Outlook and designate them for sync.  It seems logical that this capability will come in future releases, but a current workaround is to instruct users to create a subfolder in their Outlook Contacts to hold only those contacts that they would like to sync to Salesforce.com. Then, in the Salesforce for Outlook Settings options, they can designate only that subfolder for synchronization. Again, Administrators should be cautious and implement this strategy conservatively if two-way contact sync is needed. If Salesforce Sync is not activated and a user has many contacts in Outlook that are not already in Salesforce, they will need to add the contacts into Salesforce.com first before they will show up in the Salesforce Side Panel.

Send and Add email button

For those who are familiar with the Connect for Outlook integration, there was a useful “Send and Log” email button that allowed users to send an email and attach it to a contact record in Salesforce.com with one click. That button does not exist in the new Salesforce for Outlook, but there are a few easy workarounds. Either save your personal Email to Salesforce address as a contact in your Outlook Contacts and bcc: that address on outgoing emails, or simply select the email in your Outlook Sent Items box and add the email to your Salesforce Contact using the Salesforce Side Panel.

Summary

If your organization has a need to sync data between Salesforce and Outlook, or wants to store more email communication history in your Salesforce.com database alongside your contact and account (organization, household) records, you should take a look at the latest version of Salesforce for Outlook. The configuration options give administrators full control over data synchronization, and the Salesforce Side Panel makes it quick and easy to add emails to existing records in Salesforce.com, improving your organization’s data sharing and communications tracking efforts.

Additional Resources

Ken Wakamatsu provides a lot of detail about the new Salesforce for Outlook Side Panel in a Salesforce.com blog post (and in the comments).

Jason Atwood (@JasonMAtwood) has a great blog post at Arkusinc.com titled, 5 Salesforce Outlook Sync Implementation Considerations

*Administrators will want to be aware of whether private contacts will be created within their Salesforce.com instances. Generally, if your current application automatically creates account records for new contacts, you will not experience private contacts being created by Salesforce for Outlook. If your current application does allow the creation of private contacts (contact records that are not related to an account record), then Salesforce for Outlook might create private records in your instance and you will want to create or expand business procedures to process those contacts.

About Ken Lewis

Before joining Heller Consulting, Ken spent more than 3 years working in the fundraising department and as the CRM administrator at Green For All, a national nonprofit organization. After starting with the organization as a volunteer, Ken eventually joined the staff permanently to support all fundraising efforts and manage their Salesforce.com database. In that role, Ken utilized the database to increase the organization’s efficiency in development, finance and operations, and outcome tracking and program measurement.

Ken loves helping nonprofit organizations identify bottlenecks in their processes and implement technological solutions to resolve workflow issues and increase their efficiency – ultimately helping them to achieve their missions. Ken graduated from Carleton College in Northfield, MN, and is a Salesforce.com Certified Administrator and Certified Force.com Developer. 

About

The Connected Cause is a place for experts in the nonprofit online space to share perspective, offer guidance and promote best practices for using today’s technology effectively. Our goal is to provide a comprehensive source of collaborative thought leadership for the nonprofit industry.

2 comments

  1. If you need an option to view and edit any Salesforce record without leaving Outlook try ContactMonkey (http://www.contactmonkey.com/salesforce-for-outlook). It’s really easy to ingrate an saves tones of time. Worth a try!

  2. Is it possible to remove Leads from the side panel in the Outlook add-in?

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