What are the possible models for “owning” a platform like Salesforce?
So, we hope we have clearly established the need for a solid approach to administering your Salesforce instance in a previous post here. Now let’s spend some time talking about the various possible approaches to managing your platform and how to apply outside help effectively.
Some definition of terms is useful to help you mentally frame the functional roles you potentially may encounter:
- Administrator. Day-to-day management of the instance. Can do some design and configuration within constraints.
- Architect. Strategic designer of the platform. Generally, very business-knowledgeable and deeply skilled on Salesforce. Almost always an outside consultant.
- Developer. A software engineer who creates custom applications and automations on the Salesforce platform using the APEX code base. True custom programming work.
- Cloud / product SME. A consultant with deep knowledge of the applications and best-practices setup of Salesforce products beyond basic Sales Cloud, such as marketing automation (Pardot/Marketing Cloud), CPQ, Communities, Field Service, et cetera. Almost always an outside consultant.
- Program Manager / Platform Owner. For huge and complex implementations, a business owner of the platform who understands all the business needs, plus the system’s overall design. Almost always an in-house role, similar to an Architect.
In generalized terms, we see the most successful approaches falling along the following spectrum of options.
Generally, Size Does Matter. But Not Always.
We say “generalized”, because scenarios do exist where a small company has a very sophisticated instance that is mission-critical to the firm, and that company might actually hire APEX coders. And similarly, a company with 500 users or more might have very basic processes and want to leverage an outsourced administrator.
How to Make Your Consulting Partner Choice a Win
Essentially all consulting firms will be competent at how to do it (or they wouldn’t be in business). If you have an experienced and solid internal Salesforce team who can knowledgeably frame up what needs to be done and hand it off for execution, a decently competent firm will be fine. But that’s a significant internal investment and very, very rare in our experience.
The more sophisticated firms know what, why, and when. You lean on them to be business partners, understanding your corporate objectives and what you want to achieve with the platform. They will be reliable and authoritative guides to get you to something that genuinely solves your needs.
For that much more common need, take this approach to vet your partner carefully:
- Ensure that they really do understand your business (and not just the senior person selling the deal!)
- Look for examples of consultative and big picture approach
- Pick the best-fit model for yourself from the options above and make sure they are structured to serve it well
Then hire them – and treat them as if they were an extended member of your team, holding them accountable in the same way you would any other member of your company.