SharePoint Tip of the Month

Using Salesforce “Files Connect” to integrate your Salesforce and SharePoint data

July 2015

As companies become more and more reliant on applications such as Salesforce.com and SharePoint, the ability to share information between these applications creates opportunities to streamline business processes. Being able to integrate separate applications alleviates the need for users to switch between applications to find related information and prevents duplication of data.

Salesforce Files Connect

With the introduction of Salesforce Files Connect, the process of exposing SharePoint data to Salesforce users has become much simpler. Previously, this would have required accessing data via the SharePoint web services APIs. Files Connect provides connectors for SharePoint 2010 and 2013 on-premises, as well as SharePoint Online. Once setup and configured, external data sources can be created that allow employees to connect files and data housed in SharePoint to Salesforce business processes and records.

As the name implies, the most obvious use of Files Connect is the ability to access documents stored in SharePoint from within Salesforce. For example, a proposal document that resides in SharePoint can be attached to a lead that resides in Salesforce. Files can be directly connected to any Salesforce object, including custom objects.

Files Connect can be setup in either Copy Mode or Reference Mode. Copy Mode actually stores a copy of the SharePoint document in Salesforce. If files are shared with a Chatter group, all group members can access the files, even if they lack access to the document in SharePoint. In Reference Mode, a copy of the file is not stored in Salesforce and there is simply a reference to the document in SharePoint. Any access to the file in Salesforce will require that the user have access to the file in SharePoint. (Users must enter SharePoint credentials in the Authentication Settings for External Systems section of personal setup).

Files Connect can also provide read and write access to SharePoint list data. For example, an app in Salesforce could allow job information stored in a SharePoint list to be associated with a client in Salesforce, allowing new list items to be added, updated, and deleted in SharePoint directly from Salesforce.

SharePoint Custom Properties can even be included in Search, SOQL, and SOSL Queries, so federated searches can query both SharePoint and Salesforce simultaneously from any device. SharePoint documents attached to social feeds, groups or records will be included in Salesforce search results as contextually relevant content from Salesforce Chatter discussions.

When creating external data sources using SharePoint 2010 or 2013 on-premises environments, a Salesforce Secure Agent is required. A Secure Agent is a small application that runs as a service on an on-premises server and provides secure communications between Salesforce and a SharePoint 2010 or 2013 farm. The installation files for the Secure Agent are automatically created from a Connected App in Salesforce and contain the URL and other information for connecting to Salesforce. The Secure Agent does not need to be installed on a server in the SharePoint farm. It simply needs to be installed on a Windows or Linux server that has network access to the SharePoint farm and external access to Salesforce. Finally, successfully setting up a Secure Agent requires the paid permission set license, “Files Connect for on-premises external data sources.” Instructions for enabling the license for your organization can be found at https://help.salesforce.com/HTViewHelpDoc?id=users_permissionset_licenses_view.htm

Many companies use SharePoint for document-centric business functions and Salesforce for a range of other business needs. The ability to connect these two core platforms is critical to efficiently leveraging the best of these two worlds. Salesforce’s Files Connect is one important way to accomplish this goal.

This SharePoint Tip contributed by Abel Solutions Senior Consultant, Rob Aycock.