How AlphaSys Creates Complex, Agile Integrations Without Burdening Their Developer Team

AlphaSys is a rapidly-growing IT consulting and professional services firm headquartered in Sydney, Australia. Though they started as an IT infrastructure company, they have grown to now focus on cloud application consulting, with a special emphasis on Salesforce and WordPress.

With customers including TEDx Sydney, the Sydney Youth Orchestra, and Act for Peace, AlphaSys specializes in serving social outcomes-focused organizations. To best serve these clients, the company needs to execute its internal processes—like time tracking and project management—efficiently. Faced with the concurrent challenge of minimizing staffing costs, the company turned to Salesforce integration and automation as a solution.


APPS

  • Salesforce
  • Xero
  • Mailchimp
  • Harvest

CHALLENGES

  • Removing contacts from Mailchimp lists as they unsubscribe, in real time.
  • Moving complex project and accounting data between Salesforce, Xero, and Harvest.
  • Creating integrations with niche apps quickly, without overburdening in-house developers.

ROI WITH WORKATO

  • Overall employee productivity increased by 30%.
  • Custom connector build time reduced to under one week.
  • Improved data quality in Salesforce, Xero, and other business-critical apps.

Choosing a Cost-Effective iPaaS Platform for the Long-Term

As a company that frequently helps clients select, implement, and connect enterprise apps, AlphaSys was deeply familiar with the role of integration. In the past, the company had relied on hard-coded integrations and out-of-box connectors. But this approach became difficult to scale as the company grew.

“We’ve seen our business grow from just 15 people three years ago to almost 100 employees today,” says Justin Yoon, Director and Co-Founder of AlphaSys.

AlphaSys uses Workato for Salesforce integration

As a result, the firm needed a  more efficient approach to creating integrations that could be maintained at a lower cost—both internally and for its clients.

“It’s not just about the cost of implementing integrations,” Yoon notes. “It’s also about the cost of managing it going forward. We need to be able to trust that an integration will be done well the first time but even if it’s not, we need to know that we can easily and quickly fix it.”

Since Yoon manages all of the company’s internal integrations, he required a tool that he himself, a non-developer, could use.

“I’m a quite operationally-minded person,” he says. “I needed a tool that was easy to use so that I, a business person, could manage the workflows myself.”

Yoon initially tested a variety of options, including OneSaas, which proved too complex and unwieldy for him to manage efficiently. He also tried his hand at Zapier, but he found it insufficient for the business’s needs.

“Zapier was a bit too simplistic,” he recalls. “And the Salesforce API that Zapier uses has been very slow to update in the past. We were constantly stuck not being able to access an object that we really needed access to because the version of the API that they were utilizing was not the most recent one.”

After some searching, Yoon settled on Workato as the best fit for the business.

“Workato had the right balance of technical capability and ease-of-use for me, as somebody who wanted to manage and build the recipes themselves,” he says.

He was also impressed by the level of expertise behind the platform. “I knew that the technical team behind Workato is very reputable,” he adds. “I think that’s what ultimately encouraged us to adopt Workato and, eventually, become a Workato Partner.”

Creating a Source of Truth with Salesforce Integration

AlphaSys uses Workato for Salesforce integration

AlphaSys now uses Workato for a wide variety of internal workflows. Due to Salesforce functioning as the company’s source of truth, many of these integrations center around the CRM. Data from other apps—like Mailchimp, Xero, and Harvest—must be regularly synced with Salesforce so that every arm of the business has up-to-date information.

Automatically Removing Subscribers from Email Lists in MailChimp

AlphaSys uses Workato for Salesforce integration

Initially, the firm started by using Workato to connect Mailchimp with Salesforce. “Though we want Salesforce to be our source of truth, we still need to work with contacts in Mailchimp,” Yoon says. “We wanted to automatically add people to various campaign lists.”

He explains that Mailchimp’s pre-packaged Salesforce integration wasn’t customizable enough for the company’s needs.

“For example, it wasn’t easy to create workflows where, if a person chooses to opt out of our marketing communications, it would automatically remove them from all the correct lists in Mailchimp,” he notes.

As a solution, AlphaSys added Workato to the mix, using it in conjunction with the out-of-box Salesforce integration. “We added the Workato layer to do the part that then native Mailchimp to Salesforce integration wouldn’t provide,” he continues.

Connecting Salesforce and Xero

AlphaSys uses Workato for Salesforce integration

The company faced similar challenges with other out-of-box integrations—including the native Salesforce-Xero connector.

“While there are off-the-shelf tools that offer Salesforce integration with Xero, many of the off-the-shelf tools were missing key functions or didn’t really match up with our workflow needs, “ Yoon says.

Because Xero is the #1 accounting app in Australia, it was crucial that AlphaSys be able to integrate it with Salesforce, both internally and for their clients. Yoon says that using Workato for Xero integrations is a cost-effective, highly customizable solution.

“Workato gives us a lot more control over how these workflows are designed especially given the two-way nature of our requirements,” he comments. “It also gives us more granular control over how data syncs between the customer record in Salesforce and their account in Xero.”

Seamless Timesheets and Billing

AlphaSys uses Workato for Salesforce integration

From there, the company expanded their Workato usage to include integrations for timesheets and billing.

“We were struggling a bit to find a timesheets tool that could integrate with Salesforce,” Yoon recalls. “There were a few apps on top of Salesforce, but they were just a bit too complex for our needs.”

Ultimately, the company chose Harvest as their new timesheets and billing app. But there was still a problem: they needed a workable integration between Harvest and Salesforce.

As they had with their MailChimp and Xero integrations, the company turned to Workato for help. “We were able to use Workato’s HTTP connector to link the two apps,” Yoon says. “Our developers were able to build that out pretty quickly!”

As a result, AlphaSys’s time tracking is now much more straightforward. Whenever an opportunity closes in Salesforce, Workato will automatically create a corresponding project in Harvest. It will also assign the project to the correct team. If there are ever any requested changes to the account in Salesforce—such as a proposed budget increase—they’re also automatically pushed into Harvest.

“Staff is expensive,” Yoon comments. “As a consultancy, we need our staff to be as billable as possible. Getting all the data right into Salesforce and Harvest was imperative. If it’s not right, then our consultants will be doing work against budgets that are incorrect, therefore delivering the wrong outcomes.”

Not only does this workflow improve data accuracy, but it does so without increasing the amount of manual work the staff is responsible for.

“In the past, we would have had to use a staff member to do a lot of copy-pasting and creating manual workflows. With Salesforce integration, we’ve significantly reduced the number of errors that come up,” he says.

Creating No-Fear, Instantly Customizable Integrations with Workato

Yoon says that the biggest benefit of Workato is access to its easy-to-use HTTP connector.

“One thing we love about Workato is the HTTP connector,” he comments. “Realistically, we only use about five out-of-box connectors, but we use the generic HTTP connector for everything else.”

The HTTP connector gives the team a lot more flexibility and gives them a simpler way to work with specialty or niche apps, he explains. “We’re not scared of purchasing a tool or app that doesn’t have a pre-existing integration, as long as it’s got an open API. In the past, we’d be limited to tools that had pre-existing connectors. Workato opens up a lot more options for us. For example, we wouldn’t have used Harvest if we couldn’t have integrated with it using Workato.”

Using the HTTP connector is a faster, more agile alternative to custom-coding integrations by hand.

“It only took our developers a couple of days to figure out how to use it,” Yoon continues. “There’s great documentation in the “Help” area of the website. I even built a few connectors myself!  As long as the other app has a published API, we’ve been able to get the connection built and get the data transfers happening the way we need them to happen.”

Overall, Yoon estimates that creating a new HTTP connector takes his team between two and five days—a much faster turnaround time than before.

“Previously, we’d have to custom code it,” he continues. “That was difficult because ultimately, our consultants are not developers. We had to rely on our developers to code the integration correctly. And then if we ever wanted to change or tweak that integration, per se, we would have to then go back to the developers to do it.”

He adds that now, AlphaSys can develop integrations that suit their unique needs: “We’re no longer reliant on a poorly created integration or integrations made available through marketplaces like the Salesforce AppExchange. Instead, we can create our own very quickly.”

As a result, integrations are no longer a sticking point for the company. “We’re not scared of integrations anymore,” he notes. “We know we can have control using Workato!”

Yoon also credits Workato’s agile interface and intuitive error-handling with helping the company maintain and optimize its integrations without putting added pressure on their developers.

“If there’s ever an issue, I can correct that quickly in Workato,” he says. “We can re-run that particular job, but beyond that, we can constantly optimize the recipe without any help from specialists. In the past, when my developers hard-coded all of our integrations, I’d need to keep on going back to them to make improvements. Now I can keep optimizing the recipe based on any changes in the needs of the business.”

Additionally, he points out that Workato has allowed the company to enhance its data as it scales.

“Our business is built on giving good quality data to the right people at the right time, and then being able to aggregate the data in one place for better quality reporting.,” he says. “We’ve used Workato not to replace an existing process, but to prevent a manual process from being implemented in the first place. It’s increased our productivity by about 20-30%!”

Ultimately, it all comes down to mindset, he says.

“In the end, it’s very hard these days to get things perfect up front. We live in a world where we want to get things started and then optimize after you learn more and to make it better. Workato supports that test-and-learn mindset.”

Want to learn more about using Workato’s HTTP connector in your workflows? Schedule a demo today >

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