If you’re tentative to make the transition into big data, you should know that it’s easier and less risky than ever to use data integration software. If you want to ensure consistent data between your most vital business systems, it’s time to consider adding bi-directional integration software to your tech stack.
This type of software allows businesses to integrate their most-used marketing, sales, operations, and IT software, without any coding. Thanks to bi-directional synching, your data can flow back and forth based on the rules you set and update across systems automatically. This provides employees with accurate, complete, and consistent data across all the systems they utilize every day.
Using this type of software to integrate data can sound like a scary process, but it’s not as difficult as you may think. Here’s how to easily set up a bi-directional data sync in five simple steps.
Step 1: Determine how your data should sync.
Before you setup an integration, you need to be clear about what you expect to gain from it, as well as what data you have consistent access to.
Commonly, this data includes marketing (lead) data, sales opportunity data, finance invoices, and even things like employee wages and user information.
A good practice that we recommend is to create a spreadsheet with these columns:
- System to integrate (Zoho, Salesforce.com, HubSpot, Marketo, etc…)
- Object the data lives in (lead, account, opportunity, etc…)
- Fields to sync (where the data needs to live)
Once you have your integration planned out in terms of how you want your data to sync, you can move onto actually making it happen.
Step 2: Choose the right integration software for your needs.
After you have determined how you want your business data to sync, you can now set the criteria for data, choose your platform, and enable the integration.
When choosing a platform to use, there are certain features to pay attention to, including price, bi-directional syncing (does the data flow into and out of each system?), number of systems you can connect, and how many records you’re limited to sync in a given time.
Pro Tip: When evaluating software, the most important thing to keep in mind is your company’s particular needs. Here’s a list of 7 things to consider before buying software.
Step 3: Map your connectors, objects, and fields.
Once you have determined the data you want to integrate, you can map the fields across each platform to connect seamlessly. When mapping your fields, keep in mind that in most platforms, data will sync to and from a particular system.
An example of field mapping from within Sync, Formstack’s bi-directional data integration tool.
This “bi-directional” syncing is a powerful feature, because it will keep your data in sync as it changes. In this scenario though, you may want some system’s data not to be overwritten when an update happens. In this case you should ensure that the platform can handle adding logic to your data syncs to control what gets synched when.
Learn More: What Is a Bi-directional Data Sync?
Step 4: Refine your integration by setting up filters.
Once your systems are integrated, the initial transition can be overwhelming. At first, it can seem like an explosion of information. When you see the sales performance across multiple branches or departments within your organization, how will you know what is relevant data that can improve company productivity, and what is just a distraction?
Filters help to narrow down which data should be synced and provides a way for you to make sure that bad or unwanted data doesn’t sync.
Setting certain syncing filters can help direct the right leads to your sales team.
Imagine a sales manager who depends on leads from the marketing team for her sales reps. Before an integration filter was put in place, reps were complaining about lead quality, and only wanted leads that had either signed up for a free trial of their product, or downloaded a certain whitepaper. A filter allowed the sales manager to only sync “qualified” leads to her reps, which resulted in better productivity and more closed deals.
Step 5: Start your integration and decide whether to sync historical data or start fresh.
At this point, you’ve chosen your platform, mapped your fields, and setup filters. Awesome, you’re ready to go! One last thing to consider is whether you want to sync historical data between the systems that you’re integrating, or start you integration from scratch (sync on a “go-forward” basis).
Many integration platforms store your data in their database, which means that they can sync a “cleansed” copy of your data into a particular system. This is immensely helpful, as it will prevent massive exporting, data scrubbing, and re-importing of data between systems.
Your other option is just to sync on a “go-forward” basis, which means that any new or changed records will sync, but all of your existing data may not.
By integrating data across multiple platforms, an organization that is new to the data management process can quickly gain value from their integration efforts, sometimes in as little as a few days. Other companies that have invested years of resources into old-school, hard to use integrations can relieve their IT team of hours of coding and dev work.
Whether you are an established business or a start-up, integrating your data does not have to be a huge task. With these 5 steps, you can be on your way to maximizing the power of your data in no time.