Here are the basic facts I wish had known before we made the decision use Nexternal, regarding the claims they make about their Salesforce “integration”:

1) Nexternal is a company that advertises its storefront product as having a “turnkey” integration with Salesforce.

2) What Nexternal actually has is a poorly written application that erratically and inadequately connects its storefront with Salesforce in a way that does not comply with standard salesforce object mapping.

3) That application was probably sloppily adapted from a B2B application that Nexternal did not invest either the time or resources in to appropriately rewrite for a consumer storefront, resulting in tremendous data redundancy that is not use customary standard Salesforce customer data management.

4) Nexternal does not have anyone on staff who has any knowledge of Salesforce, yet advertises its Salesforce integration as a “supported” app.

5) Nexternal does not train its support staff in Salesforce integration, and the standard response to questions is to “refer to the documentation and make sure you’ve followed the instructions carefully.”

6) The documentation for Nexternal’s Salesforce app is inaccurate (I doubt we are the first clients to try to figure that out(. Despite being repeatedly shown that the documentation is wrong, Nexternal VP of Sales (the guy who answers your tech questions, no kidding) Craig Ross has shown zero interest in correcting them. Don’t waste your time — they doesn’t work.

7) A month into our contract, we have not been able to talk with anyone with any knowledge of how the Nexternal/Salesforce integration works. We assume this is because Nexternal hires outside programmers and is trying to keep their billable hours to a minimum. This has dramatically increased the cost in time, money and aggravation for everyone trying to deal with them. When I sent Craig Ross an email asking if these suspicions were true, he did not deny it.

8) Nexternal had no interest in addressing the integration issues. Their Salesforce app is not “supported” in any commonly accepted sense of the term.

9) If you decide to go forward anyway, know that you are going to be dealing with a company that has a) probably known about these issues for a long time, b) has done nothing about them, c) appears to think they can “manage” you if you have connection problems and d) will most likely continue to pursue an “on the cheap” solutions that may cost you dearly.

10) Best case scenario: at the end of the month you will get a whopping Nexernal bill based on sales you generated by working like dogs to try to make the best of a bad situation, all the while getting erroneous support from Nexternal. Good luck with that aneurysm.

Friday, December 9

My response from Craig Ross. They absolutely demand you communicate with their “development team” through their sales people, who have never used Salesforce. The time you spend trying to explain your problems are a complete time suck:

Nexternal’s development team uses a software suggestion process to provide a road map for them. If you are interested, you can see what the software suggestion form looks like here:
http://www.nexternal.com/ecommerce/suggestions.asp

The reason that I am mentioning this is because I submitted this info below as a solution to your integration needs:

What is the business case you would like to address?
Currently our Salesforce.com Integration does not account for products with attributes. I propose creating an option called “Match/Create SKU-level SKUs”. If this option is checked, our system would look to see if an order has products with attributes and then attempt to match SKUs at the SKU level if the SKU-level SKU is defined in the Nexternal System. If that SKU doesn’t exist in Salesforce, it would create a new Product titled “Product Name – SKU” (example: Northface Wool Sock – SL4567).

How are you attempting to address the business case using existing functionality?
Currently if someone is setting up Products with Attributes as separate SKUs in Salesforce.com, there is no way to properly track sales for the SKUs. TheSalesforce.com Product Object is very simple by default (Product Name, Product Code, Description, Active, Product Family). Because they don’t have the attribute concept at the product level, it seems natural that many people would set every SKU up as a separate product.

Other comments:
I do think this should be an Option and be Off by default. That way we don’t create any issues for existing clients using the integration. Some clients would just want to know that customer X ordered a Northface Sock (current config works well for this) while other’s may want to know which Northface sock (SKU – SL4567). Providing this as an option gives the client the choice.

Basically what he is saying is that Nexternal sets products up one way in the Nexternal system, based on “attributes” (color, size, etc.) But when it sends it to Salesforce, it can’t send any of that data. So when he says “there is no way to properly track sales for the SKUs,” what he means is that Nexternal can’t tell Salesforce anything beyond “um, I think you sold a buncha crap, good luck figuring out what it is.” (Nexternal is probably one of the worst written and laziest pieces of software I have ever encountered, but that’s a personal opinion.)

If you’d like help with the mess this creates, you’re invited to submit a form to their developers and make suggestions.

Yeah I have a suggestion for you, right here….

Monday, December 12 – Nexternal Sucks Again!

After trying to update the Nexternal connection for the 6th or 7th time trying to import today’s shipments, here’s the screenshot I get:

 

Of course, orders are not up to date. The system hasn’t imported anything for six days. Much like its “support” team, Nexternal’s interface does not have a clue about what’s going on.