I firmly believe that you can’t have a great CRM system without great data integration. One of the many things I really like about salesforce.com is its openness and flexibility when it comes to dealing with importing and exporting data. I use a collection of tools to get the job done.
I use 3 main tools:
I use the free version of this cloud-based data integration service. It works well for relatively simple data integration/upload procedures. It’s biggest advantage is that, being cloud-based, no software or hardware is required. You basically have your data file and/or data source (e.g. ODBC) and Informatica will suck it up.
I really like this product and not just because it’s free. Synchronizer works within Microsoft Access and can pull/push data from/to Salesforce.com. You can integrate data from many sources and use downloaded Salesforce.com data in queries that are used to upload data back. For example, you can download the user object (table) and use that to extract the employee ID which then becomes the “owner id” in contact records to be upserted. Synchronizer gives you nearly complete flexibility to synchronize even the most complex relationships. The downside is that you need Microsoft Access and it does require a certain level of geekness to get the job done.
Apex Data Loader
This free utility supplied by salesforce.com is a cross between the two. It’s simpler than Synchronizer and can import relatively simple files like Informatica can except that it’s not cloud-based. Synchronizer actually makes use of Apex Data Loader when transacting with Salesforce. If you’re willing to edit the configuration files, you can do quite a bit with the Data Loader and below is a YouTube which walks you through it.
OpCloud.com has years of experience working on massively complex data integration projects with CRM systems. We would be happy to assist you with your CRM/Salesforce.com/or data integration needs. Please contact us to begin a dialog.