One of the most common questions we get from associations is how to integrate various applications and IT systems. Through integrations, you can copy data from one application to another, or event in one system can trigger an action in another. There are a few different ways that these integrations are usually done:
- Built-in application support: Most applications have the capability to import/export data. Lots of newer applications also have built-in connectors that transfer information from other applications. For example, QuickBooks will connect to many different banks, allowing you to automatically import your transactions.
- Point-to-Point integrations: You can also hire a vendor (like us!) to build integrations that tie two or more systems together. However, this solution would require a software developer and need some upkeep.
- Integration Engines: Specialized integration software, such as MuleSoft and BizTalk, can be configured to tie different IT systems together. These robust systems are easy to configure and come with built-in components with connectors, data transformers, and filters. These integration engines scale very well and have robust features like transaction management, reliable message delivery built in. However, these do require an expert to configure and cost several thousand dollars a year in licensing costs and thus are intended for the enterprise customer. There are some open source integration engines available as well, but they will require hosting and maintenance.
A new breed of integration software is gaining in popularity. Cloud-based applications such as Zapier, IFTTT, Workflow, Microsoft Flow, automate.io are easy to use and affordable. These applications can be used to set up simple workflows and offer less customization that integration Engines can offer.
In this blog series, we will use Zapier to create simple workflows and integrations between your AMS and web application. With Zapier, you can tie together any application that has an API. If the application has a REST API, it’s even easier!
Here are some simple workflows that you can buld using Zapier:
- New member signup would trigger an email or Slack notification
- Member signup for an webinar event on a WordPress website would automatically register them to the event on GoToWebinar
- When a member creates a Zendesk ticket, that interaction should be logged in the AMS
Zapier workflows are very simple to put together. Usually an incoming event (like an API call or email) will trigger the workflow.
The data received in the incoming call can then be inspected, filtered or modified.
A subsequent action can then be triggered that will perform an operation like an API callout to an external application, send an email or slack message etc.
In an upcoming Part 2 of this article, we will show actual examples of using Zapier using Salesforce CRM, netFORUM AMS, Zendesk and GoToWebinar.
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