Here we are again, and its time to discuss another difference between Salesforce Enterprise and Professional Edition on our discovery of which version of Salesforce is ultimately right for you. The principle difference we will discuss this time is API Access. With Enterprise you get it automatically, with Professional you don't. If you're saying to yourself "I don't even know what API access is, I must not need it", hold-up a sec. You may need it and just not know it yet.
API stands for Application Programming Interface, and is what enables two completely different software systems to talk to each other and exchange information. In a lot of ways Salesforce's success as a business platform is due to the ease use and capabilities of its API allowing its users and 3rd Party vendors to create a means for Salesforce to communicate with virtually any Software.
So if you have any intention of tying in another piece of software to Salesforce you are more than likely going to need Enterprise to gain access to the API.
But before you rush out and buy it, run a quick search through Salesforce's app exchange to see if the software in question already has an app. If they do there is a good chance you can get away without having API access. The app listing will tell you what tier of Salesforce you will need to get it for the app to work. If you don't see it listed on the exchange, double-check with your software vendor first, sometimes they will have what's called a Private listing so you wouldn't normally find it on the exchange.
If the 3rd party software doesn't have an exchange app or you're looking to integrate your proprietary software with Salesforce. You will certainly need API access.
If an integration isn't until a future phase of your Salesforce Implementation, and can do everything else with Salesforce Professional Edition. Then hold-off. You can always upgrade when the time is right.
Other benefits of API access are that you can use the Salesforce Data Loader to do a lot of the heavy lifting for importing, exporting, and updating data in Salesforce. You can of course use Jitterbit if you're on Professional Edition. I find it can be a bit more confusing for some users who are new to Salesforce. But the point is, there are alternatives.
So if you think that you really need API access but nothing else from an Enterprise License you can get API access as an add-on to Professional Edition. You will need to speak with your Sales Rep to determine the cost. If you're a small org, the cost of upgrading your licenses to Enterprise might be worth it if you can leverage a lot of the automation functionality you also get as part of Enterprise.
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