Today businesses are looking to Consultants more than ever, to help fill their Salesforce development needs. This is understandable when you consider one of the main selling points of using a Software-as-a-Service model, is that it does not require extensive IT resource to run efficiently. However this does not mean that companies will not need knowledge experts along the way, in order to get the most value for their Salesforce investment.
When deciding on a Salesforce Consultant for your organization there are three key areas in deciding if the firm you’re speaking with will be able to meet the needs of your organization. When it comes to choosing the right Salesforce Consultant for your project, you will want to find Effective Communicators, Knowledge Experts and Innovative Solution Providers.
Communication is a two way street! One of the most important jobs of a Salesforce consultant is to be able to listen to and understand what your business objectives are. While you may know what your ultimate goal is, as far as functionality, you are depending on your consulting partner to ask the right questions to ensure these ideas can be translated into designs.
Before any work begins you should be confident that your ideas were properly understood and you should be provided with a documentation of exactly what your consulting partner understands the scope of your project to be. Another key aspect in developing a relationship with a consulting partner is to choose someone that can adapt to change. Business moves quickly and so does your business requirement. Your consulting partner should be Agile enough to be able to make adjustments to minor changes in requirements. Choosing an Agile company will provide flexibility and a happier outcome. Agile companies work on time and materials vs the old requirements heavy waterfall fixed prices. Going with a T&M and Agile methodology will ensure project success but be sure to understand how the company keeps your project on a budget when working in an Agile manner.
Knowledge Experts. When choosing a consulting partner you will want to be dealing with Knowledge experts. While you may not need a full time developer guru, your consulting partner certainly should be providing you with top talent! Salesforce has made it easier for you to find companies with the proper amount of knowledge for your project. Salesforce has broken their certifications of knowledge experts into three tracks, Administrator, Developer and Implementation Experts.
Salesforce Certified Administrators are experts in user management and security, automation of workflow and approvals, as well as the core features of both Sales and Service cloud. Your Salesforce Certified Administrator is your font-line go-to person for managing and maintaining your Salesforce Org.
Force.com Certified Developers are experts in both the declarative, or clicks-not-code, functionality of Salesforce as well as identifying use cases and best practices for building custom applications using Apex and Visualforce. Your Force.com developer partner will be able to provide expert guidance in designing an effective data model, evaluating and configuring your security settings, developing advanced business logic and customizing your user interface.
Implementation Expert -There are two separate certifications that Salesforce offers to demonstrate expertise in providing initial implementations. Certified Sales Cloud Consultants or Certified Service Cloud Consultants have demonstrated their ability to meet the demanding challenges of implementing customer-facing solutions.
Sales Cloud Consultants are able to design Sales and Marketing solutions, Design applications and customize the user interface to increase productivity, and design analytic solutions to track key metrics
Service Cloud Consultants are able to design solutions for businesses that are focused on building long-term customer success. Your Service Cloud Consulting Partner will design Customer Contact Center Solutions that can incorporate key Service Cloud features such as Cases, Customer and Partner Portals, and Knowledge Bases.
Innovative Solution Providers – These combinations of skills and core competencies are the key to a successful Salesforce Consulting Partner. While there are many ways in which to design and implement a Salesforce solution, a successful Salesforce consulting partner will be able to both advise on Best Practices, as well as find innovative solutions that are designed specifically to meet your individual business requirements. Salesforce and the Force.com platform are flexible because all businesses are not the same, and their technology solutions must be equally unique to maximize efficiency.
Company Stability – How long the company has been in business is important! You want to ensure this company isn’t just a “Salesforce boutique company” but a full solution provider for all of your technical needs. If the company has a winning track record and has been in business with more than just Salesforce they have the ability to supply more than just one area of solution. This is an excellent choice in a company because they will have the scalability and in-house knowledge to meet any need you may have. Also, if they have been around for 10 years or more they probably won’t take your money and run or you won’t be finding out that they are closing their doors anytime soon. Ask how large their balance sheet is and insure they have the staying power.
Trustworthy Reputation - Are they having customer satisfaction issues? We certainly hope not! One way to understand is to ask for a non-disclosure agreement right away. Next ask for references so you know who you are dealing with!