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Three-way integration for Google Calendar, Salesforce, and Outlook Calendar?

  • 1.  Three-way integration for Google Calendar, Salesforce, and Outlook Calendar?

    Posted Jul 01, 2019 11:46
    Dear NTEN Colleagues,

    I'm working with a smallish 501c6 organization that has some really interesting knowledge management challenges. It's crucial that they be able to share some information with each other about where they are, who they are seeing, and what they are talking about.

    For historical reasons, some staff members are currently using Outlook Calendar, some are using Saleforce, and some are using the Google Calendar from personal Gmail accounts. (Yes, I know that the latter is problematic. I'm also looking into getting them on to an enterprise Google option, such as G Suite) Most staff members rely on two out of three of these tools.

    What I want to do is explore what it would take to implement three-way integration among Google Calendar, Salesforce, and Outlook Calendar. How much trouble, how much time, how much money would it take? Even more important, would it be worth the effort? I think that there are other ways address the large knowledge management challenges, but I want to see if I can make two groups happy: people on the team who love Outlook, and people on the team who love Google Calendar.

    If your nonprofit organization has any experience with this three-way integration, or even with two out of three, I'd love to hear from you.

    Many thanks and best regards from Deborah

    P.S. This is about organizational culture, as well as about knowledge management and tech infrastructure, and organizational culture is complicated. If you'd rather tell me privately about your experience, please feel free to email me directly at deborah.elizabeth@finn.com .


    Deborah Elizabeth Finn
    292 Newbury Street
    Boston, Massachusetts, 02115 USA

    Email: deborah.elizabeth@finn.com
    Email: deborah_elizabeth_finn@post.harvard.edu
    Phone: 617-958-1959
    Phone: 617-504-8188
    LinkedIn profile: https://www.linkedin.com/in/deborah909/
    Pronouns: she, her, hers

    I work with mission-based organizations as a capacity builder,
    technical assistance provider, network weaver, and nonprofit
    technology strategist. My purpose is to bring needs and resources
    together in order to ensure the success of programs, goals,
    and missions.
    2020 Nonprofit Technology Conference Logo  w/ Baltimore Skyline


  • 2.  RE: Three-way integration for Google Calendar, Salesforce, and Outlook Calendar?

    Posted Jul 01, 2019 11:57
    I'm not 100% sure this would work for the configuration you have, but I have personally started using FantastiCal to integrate my Outlook, Gmail, and other calendars. I'm not sure if it can integrate Salesforce. It's an iOS app and a Mac App, so I don't know how it does with Android. This probably sounds unhelpful, but my point is that I know this technology exists, but it hasn't been easy for me to find. Additionally, it might mean that everyone would have to have the same Fantastical account they were logging into in order to see the whole calendar.

    ------------------------------
    Angie Albright
    Director
    Clinton House Museum
    Fayetteville, AR
    ------------------------------

    2020 Nonprofit Technology Conference Logo  w/ Baltimore Skyline


  • 3.  RE: Three-way integration for Google Calendar, Salesforce, and Outlook Calendar?

    Posted Jul 01, 2019 13:48
    Dear Angie,

    Thanks so much for sharing your experience!

    I have a couple of follow-up questions:

    1)  Can FantastiCal integrate Salesforce with Outlook and Google calendars?

    2)  Does FantastiCal have an enterprise-wide solution?  (This situation is slightly different from yours, in that it's not a challenge with one person's handheld device, but with an entire organization's desktop applications.)

    Again, thank you very much!

    Best regards from Deborah


    Deborah Elizabeth Finn
    292 Newbury Street
    Boston, Massachusetts, 02115 USA

    Email: deborah.elizabeth@finn.com
    Email: deborah_elizabeth_finn@post.harvard.edu
    Phone: 617-958-1959
    Phone: 617-504-8188
    LinkedIn profile: https://www.linkedin.com/in/deborah909/
    Pronouns: she, her, hers

    I work with mission-based organizations as a capacity builder,
    technical assistance provider, network weaver, and nonprofit
    technology strategist. My purpose is to bring needs and resources
    together in order to ensure the success of programs, goals,
    and missions.
    2020 Nonprofit Technology Conference Logo  w/ Baltimore Skyline


  • 4.  RE: Three-way integration for Google Calendar, Salesforce, and Outlook Calendar?

    Posted Jul 02, 2019 06:11
    Deborah - can you say more about what you mean by "integration'? Do you need individuals' calendar events to compile on to a single organizational calendar? Or do you "just" need for users to have visibility into others' comings and goings, and free-busy information for meeting planning?

    For the Salesforce piece - are there users that are primarily or exclusively using Salesforce as their calendar? Is the goal with Salesforce to get events that involve constituents recorded there? Are the Outlook users connected to organizational Exchange/Office 365 accounts, personal Microsoft accounts, or (shudder) just using local PST files (is that even a thing in 2019?)

    There are options for calendar integration with both Outlook and GCal provided by Salesforce. But I believe they require that the Outlook/Google accounts be organizational - Exchange, or Office 365, or GSuite. There are also 3rs party tools that will work with personal accounts. Tbe organizational culture issue of not having governance and/or provision of an org-wide email & calendar system for all users seems like the big hurdle here, though.

    ------------------------------
    Thomas Taylor
    Philadelphia PA
    ------------------------------

    2020 Nonprofit Technology Conference Logo  w/ Baltimore Skyline


  • 5.  RE: Three-way integration for Google Calendar, Salesforce, and Outlook Calendar?

    Posted Jul 02, 2019 11:13
    Dear Thomas,

    Thanks for asking!

    In the best of all possible worlds:

    • Any calendar item added in an organizational Outlook account would immediately show up in Google Calendar, with the option of also sending it to Salesforce.

    • Any calendar item added in an organizational Google account would immediately show up in Outlook Calendar, with the option of also sending it to Salesforce.

    • Items added to an organizational Salesforce account would have the option of showing up immediately as Google Calendar and Outlook Calendar items.

    • Calendar items (or indeed any items) from personal Google accounts would not bleed into the organizational Google accounts.

    • No matter which calendar application was in use, individual staff members would be able to toggle to get a view of only his/her/their calendar or some organizational calendars, or all organizational calendars.


    This organization has people who are using O-365 Outlook calendars, and Google calendars from personal Google accounts. Neither group is willing to switch calendars, and I want them all to be happy.  Thus the real-time integration, which will allow them to add an item once from the tool of choice.  (My goal is to get the Google fans on to G Suite.)

    As for Salesforce, they are not really using the calendar function much, if at all.  They have a really good Salesforce development firm that specializes in implementation for nonprofits, so the question of who could do the development work on that side is already answered.  I've known the firm and my client's specific point person for years, so I have no worries there.

    Thanks for your insights!  If the information I'm providing sparks any new thoughts, please do let me know.

    Many thanks and warm regards from Deborah

    Deborah Elizabeth Finn
    292 Newbury Street
    Boston, Massachusetts, 02115 USA

    Email: deborah.elizabeth@finn.com
    Email: deborah_elizabeth_finn@post.harvard.edu
    Phone: 617-958-1959
    Phone: 617-504-8188
    LinkedIn profile: https://www.linkedin.com/in/deborah909/
    Pronouns: she, her, hers

    I work with mission-based organizations as a capacity builder,
    technical assistance provider, network weaver, and nonprofit
    technology strategist. My purpose is to bring needs and resources
    together in order to ensure the success of programs, goals,
    and missions.


    2020 Nonprofit Technology Conference Logo  w/ Baltimore Skyline


  • 6.  RE: Three-way integration for Google Calendar, Salesforce, and Outlook Calendar?

    Posted Jul 02, 2019 14:08
    I strongly recommend telling the personal Gmail/GCal users that their luck has run out. The initial cost and ongoing maintenance and administrative overhead of maintaining two systems far outweighs any possible cost of telling recalcitrant users that they need to adopt the company-provided calendaring system for their professional calendaring. In addition to just creating items back and forth, you've got to somehow manage meeting invitation acceptances, declines and updates. You'd need to have (and pay for) user accounts per-person in both systems in order to manage all this, in addition to the syncing ability. Are they using resources (rooms/equipment) in O365, and if so would you dupe and sync those as well? I'm sure I don't understand all the nuances of the culture issues here, and am glad that they are in your capable hands. But advocating for setting up two parallel calendar systems to placate inflexible users would be, IMO, malpractice.

    I use Google for all my personal/side-hustle email and calendaring, and sure, life has been most convenient when working for firms that use GSuite. But I'm at an O365 organization now, and it's fine. Really. Show them how they can see their O365 Calendar in GCal (https://blog.prialto.com/how-to-share-office-365-calendar-with-google-calendar) and vice-versa (https://support.office.com/en-us/article/see-your-google-calendar-in-outlook-c1dab514-0ad4-4811-824a-7d02c5e77126). That way they can avoid accepting meetings that conflict with their dental appointment or whatever.

    I'd guess that the Google die-hards haven't used Outlook or O365 in a long time, and are harboring old resentments about it. It's so much better than it used to be. I can't immediately think of a GSuite feature that O365 doesn't have. In particular - you can totally use the web app full-time - you don't have to use the desktop Outlook client. My current gig doesn't even give me a license for Outlook - I have to use the web app. 


    ------------------------------
    Thomas Taylor
    Philadelphia PA
    ------------------------------

    2020 Nonprofit Technology Conference Logo  w/ Baltimore Skyline


  • 7.  RE: Three-way integration for Google Calendar, Salesforce, and Outlook Calendar?

    Posted Jul 03, 2019 13:44

    Dear Thomas,

    Thanks for your recommendations! The prialto.com link might turn out to be especially helpful.

    As for laying down the law with the Google Calendar users, that's not really an option.  The first reason is I am their consultant, not their policy maker.  The second is that the executive director uses and loves Google Calendar.  This is an opportunity for persuasion.

    As we all agree, this is mainly an organizational culture challenge. Power dynamics also come into play here.  I'm working on possible ways to address these issues.

    Meanwhile, I have no hesitation in telling my clients that a technical solution that enables everyone to use the tool he/she/they prefer (i.e., three-way real-time integration) is a high risk option, even though I have total confidence in the developer's ability to do the best possible job with incompatible components.

    Warm regards from Deborah

    Deborah Elizabeth Finn
    292 Newbury Street
    Boston, Massachusetts, 02115 USA

    Email: deborah.elizabeth@finn.com
    Email: deborah_elizabeth_finn@post.harvard.edu
    Phone: 617-958-1959
    Phone: 617-504-8188
    LinkedIn profile: https://www.linkedin.com/in/deborah909/
    Pronouns: she, her, hers

    I work with mission-based organizations as a capacity builder,
    technical assistance provider, network weaver, and nonprofit
    technology strategist. My purpose is to bring needs and resources
    together in order to ensure the success of programs, goals,
    and missions.


    2020 Nonprofit Technology Conference Logo  w/ Baltimore Skyline


  • 8.  RE: Three-way integration for Google Calendar, Salesforce, and Outlook Calendar?

    Posted Jul 02, 2019 11:13
    Hi Deborah,

    We are a small organization - staff of 15 - and use Salesforce with the Salesforce for Outlook plugin.  Users are set up so that they can choose the events/meetings on their Outlook calendar that they want to sync to Salesforce.  We do not use any of the G suite tools, so not sure about the integration there.  Our staff uses the Salesforce shared calendar as the centralized point of reference, so that we know when staff is out on the road and where.  The only down side is that we are stuck with Salesforce Classic until they implement the shared calendar functionality in Lightening.

    Hope this helps!

    ------------------------------
    Mary Beth Foster
    Director of Information Technology
    Texas Presbyterian Foundation
    Irving, TX
    ------------------------------

    2020 Nonprofit Technology Conference Logo  w/ Baltimore Skyline


  • 9.  RE: Three-way integration for Google Calendar, Salesforce, and Outlook Calendar?

    Posted Jul 02, 2019 11:33
    Edited by Medha Nanal Jul 02, 2019 14:29
    Hi Deborah,

    I have helped my client organizations integrate their Outlook/G Suite based calendars into Salesforce via the Salesforce Sync. Typically, the organization selects one of these vendors as the main organizational calendar.

    Both these vendors integrate with Salesforce. There's a lightning based sync called Salesforce for Gmail and Salesforce for Outlook, respectively. This would bring the data into Salesforce, in addition to Salesforce Calendar data. Salesforce will be the central repository. Further reports are drawn based on this data.

    Lastly, as you mentioned, this is a culture issue as much as a tech issue. I would strongly recommend that you encourage the whole organization to adapt to standard products for work. I see this issue with small organizations, and eventually, it comes to bite them. Streamlining all this later is a lot more work, and starting sooner is recommended. Hope this helps.

    ------------------------------
    Medha Nanal
    Strategic Data/Database Consultant for Nonprofits (Fundraising, Operations, Programs)
    www.topcloudconsult.com
    medhananal@topcloudconsult.com
    650.600.9374
    ------------------------------

    2020 Nonprofit Technology Conference Logo  w/ Baltimore Skyline


  • 10.  RE: Three-way integration for Google Calendar, Salesforce, and Outlook Calendar?

    Posted Jul 02, 2019 15:28
    Debrah, I agree 100% with Thomas & Medha about resolving the culture issue and getting everyone on one system.

    Cross-platform calendar management is surprisingly challenging.  I worked on an Outlook/Google Cal integration issue for a client (we didn't have the Salesforce requirement) and it was simply not possible to solve.  Not from a technical standpoint -- we cobbled together a solution -- but because of low staff adoption and ongoing use.  If staff won't cross the Outlook/Google divide, they probably won't be willing to tackle calendar publishing & subscribing, working with 3rd party tools, etc..

    You have the added complexity of people using personal Google Cal accounts & possible reluctance to share personal calendar info.

    Calendar integration solutions exist (e.g. Calendly enables integration of Outlook/ Google calendars + Salesforce and offers integrations via Zapier) but:
    • these solutions tend to be sales oriented & focused on scheduling outside appointments
    • there's a cost (e.g. Calendly is $12/user/month)
    • using these tools to patch something together results in a fragile solution with multiple points of failure, especially with the cultural issues you face.

    Steve

    ------------------------------
    Steve Fleckenstein
    social sector digital capacity builder
    futurefactory.org
    Arlington, VA
    ------------------------------

    2020 Nonprofit Technology Conference Logo  w/ Baltimore Skyline


  • 11.  RE: Three-way integration for Google Calendar, Salesforce, and Outlook Calendar?

    Posted Jul 03, 2019 13:58
    Dear Steve,

    Thanks for your overview of some of the options!  Thanks also for your thoughts on the organization culture issue.

    And it is indeed an organizational issue!  I also think of it as a cognitive style issue.  This wonderful organization's strength AND its vulnerability is the amazing diversity of minds.  Each user needs to be reasonably comfortable and happy in order to be really effective. The definitions of comfort are quite different for different team members.  It may turn out that the long term solution is not to mandate one calendar platform for everyone.

    Many thanks and best regards from Deborah

    Deborah Elizabeth Finn
    292 Newbury Street
    Boston, Massachusetts, 02115 USA

    Email: deborah.elizabeth@finn.com
    Email: deborah_elizabeth_finn@post.harvard.edu
    Phone: 617-958-1959
    Phone: 617-504-8188
    LinkedIn profile: https://www.linkedin.com/in/deborah909/
    Pronouns: she, her, hers

    I work with mission-based organizations as a capacity builder,
    technical assistance provider, network weaver, and nonprofit
    technology strategist. My purpose is to bring needs and resources
    together in order to ensure the success of programs, goals,
    and missions.

    2020 Nonprofit Technology Conference Logo  w/ Baltimore Skyline


  • 12.  RE: Three-way integration for Google Calendar, Salesforce, and Outlook Calendar?

    Posted Jul 03, 2019 13:52
    Dear Medha,

    Thanks for the technical and organizational insight!

    I do agree with everyone who is saying that the organization needs to address the non-technical issues; these can't be solved by throwing money and technology at them.  Mission/strategy first, collaborative relationships second, and shiny new objects need to trail behind in third place.

    Many thanks and best regards from Deborah

    Deborah Elizabeth Finn
    292 Newbury Street
    Boston, Massachusetts, 02115 USA

    Email: deborah.elizabeth@finn.com
    Email: deborah_elizabeth_finn@post.harvard.edu
    Phone: 617-958-1959
    Phone: 617-504-8188
    LinkedIn profile: https://www.linkedin.com/in/deborah909/
    Pronouns: she, her, hers

    I work with mission-based organizations as a capacity builder,
    technical assistance provider, network weaver, and nonprofit
    technology strategist. My purpose is to bring needs and resources
    together in order to ensure the success of programs, goals,
    and missions.

    2020 Nonprofit Technology Conference Logo  w/ Baltimore Skyline


  • 13.  RE: Three-way integration for Google Calendar, Salesforce, and Outlook Calendar?

    Posted Jul 03, 2019 13:48

    Dear Mary Beth,

    Thanks for your insight about the Salesforce/Outlook integration!

    Do you have a guess about when the SF shared calendar functionality (with Lightning) will be available?

    Many thanks and best regards from Deborah

    Deborah Elizabeth Finn
    292 Newbury Street
    Boston, Massachusetts, 02115 USA

    Email: deborah.elizabeth@finn.com
    Email: deborah_elizabeth_finn@post.harvard.edu
    Phone: 617-958-1959
    Phone: 617-504-8188
    LinkedIn profile: https://www.linkedin.com/in/deborah909/
    Pronouns: she, her, hers

    I work with mission-based organizations as a capacity builder,
    technical assistance provider, network weaver, and nonprofit
    technology strategist. My purpose is to bring needs and resources
    together in order to ensure the success of programs, goals,
    and missions.


    2020 Nonprofit Technology Conference Logo  w/ Baltimore Skyline