Salesforce clearly holds tremendous promise for many companies. It is that promise that continues to drive tremendous growth for Salesforce and the extensive ecosystem that is comprised of AppExchange Partners, Consulting Partners, Salesforce Certified Professionals and, most importantly, the customers who leverage the extensive capabilities of the platform. At the core of the promise is a highly capable system that enables companies to actively engage potential and existing customers through all aspects and interactions and across all channels. Salesforce promises to deliver these capabilities with far less effort than legacy technology with configuration of the highly capable Salesforce Platform.
So what is it that companies do that directly conflicts with the core reason that they purchased Salesforce and how do they get there? It starts with a combination of business and technology leaders choosing to move their company onto the Salesforce Platform. These companies generally put their best people on what is typically a very important and high profile project. From the business, the team often consists of highly knowledgeable sales or service leaders who have managed these critical aspects of the business and have successfully implemented changes in the past. From the technology side, the team often consists of highly capable technologists who have developed incredible coded solutions to address some of the biggest technical challenges that companies have experienced… and they look to do more of this. And that is where it all goes wrong.
It happens something like this. Technology “coders” get assigned to Salesforce. They are good at coding and are proficient at coding in many languages on many platforms and have built a reputation and career on being a great coder. So, when they get assigned to work on Salesforce, the first thing they do is find where all of the good coding information is on Salesforce. They learn to code on Salesforce (APEX and Visual Force) and find ties to the right communities of developers to code anything that they need to on Salesforce.
Now that your coders are ready to code on Salesforce, let’s go back to the reason you purchased Salesforce. You purchase Salesforce because it is a highly capable system that enables companies to actively engage potential and existing customers through all aspects and interactions and across all channels…. with configuration not coding. On the Salesforce Platform, coding frequently circumvents the native capabilities of Salesforce and replaces those capabilities with fixed solutions that need to be maintained by your technical people (because they are the only ones who understand them) and often hinder fully leveraging the capabilities of the platform (because your custom-coded solution will solve the first part of the problem but the Salesforce platform likely already has much more).
So how do you avoid going down this path? We have a few suggestions. First, engage individuals who have training and experience in configuring the Salesforce platform to meet business’ needs. There are many Salesforce Consultants who have what you need. Second, if you are insisting on the DIY approach, take time to train your people on the capabilities of the system before launching the project. There are great resources available through Trailhead as well as in-person training to get your people up to speed. Third, set expectations about your company’s approach to Salesforce. Companies will often set expectations like “no coding unless the solution cannot be achieved without it”. Remember the saying credited to Albert Einstein, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.” This is true for your approach with technology.
A few other resources that you might benefit from:
https://appexchange.salesforce.com/ – the Salesforce AppExchange. Here you can find both Salesforce Consulting Partner Companies and thousands of prebuilt apps that expand the capabilities of the Salesforce Platform
https://trailhead.salesforce.com/ – Trailhead, the Salesforce learning platform where you can select from over 700 modules to expand your knowledge of the Salesforce Platform
https://trailhead.salesforce.com/credentials/verification – Salesforce Credential Verification. Don’t be dazzled by fancy titles given by companies like “Omnipotent Salesforce Guru”. Go here and see what credentials individuals have earned from Salesforce.