We’re always looking for new challenges here at Oktana. One recent challenge that presented itself to us came from our partners, a leading investment firm. This investment firm out of California works with growth-stage companies in a wide variety of industries. They approached Oktana to help them find a solution to an efficiency problem within their organization. The primary tool that they used within the organization for work was Slack, and several different apps designed to interface with it. Their employees had to switch between Salesforce and Slack to manage updates and new tasks that would populate through Salesforce.

That’s where Oktana came in; the firm wanted a way to integrate Salesforce into their Slack experience to help save everyone at their company time and energy while they’re working. What could we do to bring these two platforms together? We started by exploring what tools might already exist within Slack that would make this integration quick and easy and found Incoming Webhooks. With Incoming Webhooks, we were about to take any new notifications from the Salesforce org about new task assignments and send them to users within the Slack instance.

This implementation was a success, and users were receiving notifications, but it was apparent that it wasn’t going to be the right solution for the long term. There were severe limitations to what we could do with Incoming Webhooks. While it could bring in notifications from Salesforce, it wasn’t able to limit those notifications to those directly involved with the task and instead sent them indiscriminately to the entire team. Additionally, there was no way to talk back to Salesforce after you received a notification in Slack, Incoming Webhooks is a one-way street. As such, we decided that we would need to take a different approach to solve this problem.

Thankfully, our partners at the firm were receptive to these concerns and were open to our recommendation for another option that might better suit their long term needs. Since Incoming Webhooks did not fit our needs, there was only one course of action to take at this point. We needed to build our a bespoke app to do the job. We created a small application in Node.js hosted on Heroku that would handle everything the investment firm required and more.

First, the app would replicate the functionality of the old implementation and take any task notifications from Salesforce and send them to Slack. Next, the app acts as a chatbot on Slack that can receive messages from Slack and send them back to Salesforce to update and create new tasks. Additionally, we built this app to be as lightweight and efficient as possible. At its core, the app is always listening to both sides, and when it detects something relevant, it translates the message and sends from one application to the other. Oktana’s development process is about creating the most value as possible for our clients. The lightweight nature of the app means it has space to grow and take on other functions so that the link between Salesforce and Slack can be expanded later on if needed. The app also can interface with applications beyond Salesforce if the need were ever to present itself.

The Critical technologies from this project:

  • Salesforce
  • Slack
  • Node.js
  • Heroku
  • Apex
  • Incoming Webhooks

This project was about seeing disfunction in how employees at the investment firm were working and finding a way to make it more streamlined. We saw that our client needed a solution for fixing their workflow, and we were able to accurately identify the problems as well as the best way to solve them. Now, they don’t have to move between Salesforce and Slack every time they want to update tasks, and we were able to face a new challenge head-on and solve it creatively.

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