Salesforce Customization vs Configuration: Which Works Better for You

November 3, 2022
16 min

Based on Salesforce Relationship Survey, Salesforce helps increase deals win rate up to 24% and sales productivity up to 25%. And you can achieve even better results with Salesforce customization.

If customized right, Salesforce will automate tedious tasks, engage teams to get a complete view of the customers and increase overall productivity. On the other hand, if you let Salesforce customization slide, then it may turn out to be a very expensive yet useless CRM platform.

Not to turn your CRM customization project into a disaster, you should clearly understand all the processes that exist in your business, and, if necessary, seek help from professional Salesforce customization companies.

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Salesforce Configuration vs. Salesforce Customization: Key Difference

 

According to Nucleus Research, 86% of consumers claim that personalization plays a significant role in their purchasing decisions. Namely, users want to make sure that all the CRM-related processes and integrations are fine-tuned and customer communication is efficient and personalized.

Salesforce is a powerful CRM platform that allows infinite configuration and customization via declarative or programming tools.  Thanks to it, you can exceed platform limits, create new functionalities, and adjust them to organizational needs. Salesforce customization is usually more complicated, and, as a result, a more expensive effort compared to configuration.

That’s why, if you are balancing between Salesforce customization vs. Salesforce configuration, you have to understand their main distinctions, not to let your money and time go down the drain.

Salesforce Customization vs Configuration Comparison | Ascendix

Salesforce Customization vs Configuration Comparison

 

What Is Salesforce Configuration?

 

Salesforce configuration refers to adding new features and functionality to Salesforce Org via a formula or a specific rule. It helps modify default features, metadata organization, and components and build the most optimal business strategy to increase ROI and sales productivity.

Configuration in Salesforce enables you to use User Interface (UI) to develop applications in Salesforce efficiently. So, if you need to modify the UI, data model, and business logic of your Salesforce solution with point-and-click tools, you can opt for Salesforce configuration.

 

What Salesforce Configuration is Used for

 

The list of possible configurations includes creating:

  • Sales paths,
  • Reports and dashboards,
  • Workflows and data validation rules,
  • Page layouts,
  • Permission sets,
  • Tabs and apps (collections of tabs grouped to present them to users).

All of them can be built or improved with the default Salesforce functions, the Lightning Process Builder, or apps from AppExchange.

Salesforce configuration does not involve adding any new functionality to the platform, so you may do it on your own or seek help from a professional Salesforce administrator.

This person plays a significant role not only in on-demand CRM configuration but also in ongoing org maintenance and support that you may require after each Salesforce release.

However, Salesforce configuration can sometimes be a complicated task, but hiring the best Salesforce consulting partner can solve this problem.

 

What is Customization in Salesforce?

 

Salesforce customization is the process of adding new features or functionality unavailable or not accessible in the out-of-the-box CRM system through custom coding.

It does not focus on the existing interface of the platform. Instead, it stresses expanding its overall functionality and leveraging the platform to attain additional benefits.

 

Salesforce Customization Tools

 

You can customize Salesforce via proprietary tools or those delivered by Salesforce’s partners. Here is the list of some common Salesforce’s declarative customization tools:

  • Visualforce is a front-end HTML-like programming language designed for building UI pages and components.
  • Apex is a back-end programming language like Java and C# that enables working with user actions and objects.
  • SOQL (Salesforce Object Query Language) is an SQL-like programming language designed for querying data in Salesforce.
  • Lightning components is a JavaScript framework used for developing reusable components for Salesforce.
  • Salesforce Connect is an OData protocol solution that enables Salesforce users to interact with third-party system data as if they were stored in Salesforce objects.

Due to its complexity, such an approach usually requires a partnership with a Salesforce customization company that will drive the whole optimization journey.

What Can Salesforce Customization and Configuration Be Used for | Ascendix

What Can Salesforce Customization and Configuration Be Used for

What Can Be Customized in Salesforce?

 

Salesforce is a highly customizable platform, and you can modify almost any element there. All customizable items can fall into such categories:

 

  • UI (User Interface),
  • Functionality
  • Integrations.

 

User Interface (UI)

 

You can alter the look and feel of the original Salesforce UI and apply your corporate colors, logos and brand style. To create an even better user experience in your Salesforce instance, you can also customize Salesforce lightning home page layouts.

 

Functionality

 

Salesforce customization allows the development and transformation of system entities like:

  • Objects,
  • Fields,
  • Reports,
  • Dashboards,
  • Tabs,
  • Templates,
  • Notifications,
  • Workflows, etc.

Sometimes, it’s not enough to simply alter these entities, and you need to build massive multistep custom processes in Salesforce or develop custom apps to enhance the system functionality.

 

Integrations

 

You can connect Salesforce with any other third-party system such as:

  • ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) systems
  • CMS (Content Management System)
  • Project management software
  • Social media
  • Email marketing tools
  • Report generation tools
  • E-commerce platforms
  • Accounting solutions
  • Computer telephony software

Most of them can be integrated via a plugin available on AppExchange, API, or a ready-made connector for Salesforce. Besides that, Salesforce itself offers a few powerful integration tools for this:

  • MuleSoft Anypoint: a platform for app integration
  • Heroku: a platform for developing your own apps and integrating them with Salesforce

But sometimes, you need to develop a custom code-based connector to synchronize the systems, especially if there are multiple solutions involved.

If your teams have never worked with Salesforce or you are hesitant about which approach to choose, engage with Salesforce consultants for the initial stage of your project. They can suggest a better way for developing your rollout plan, recommend the most fitting subscription plan for your company, and advise on the optimal way to customize your Salesforce org.

Salesforce Customization Benefits: Why Your Org Needs It?

 

Customization Makes User Interface More Intuitive

 

The Salesforce UI is highly intuitive and automated which makes it easier for developers to customize and scale it according to the needs of their clients.

It allows developers to integrate Salesforce and add the necessary features without applying complex coding.

 

Ultimately Personalized User Experience

 

With customization, you can build and customize:

  • Apex classes/triggers,
  • Page layout by applying CSS
  • Visual Force pages/components/emails,
  • Lead capture forms,
  • Third-party integrations,
  • Lightning components,
  • Secure partner portals.

And this is just a shortlist of what can be configured or built!

 

Faster App Development

 

Salesforce enables faster app development via easy drag-and-drop tools. Even if you can’t build a full-fledged sophisticated app in a few hours, developers can always set up specific actions and get the basic framework ready.

 

Vast Variety of Pre-built Applications

 

AppExchange (Salesforce app marketplace) offers 4,000+ pre-built third-party applications designed for almost any industry, even for the most sophisticated ones as commercial real estate.

Thanks to these applications, you can customize the global search in Salesforce with downloadable solutions like Ascendix Search.

You can easily integrate your Salesforce org with these products via a unified interface.

 

Seamless Integration with Third-Party Systems

 

You can connect your CRM with any external system like ERP, e-commerce solutions, social media, email, etc., which is crucial for your business via a range of default tools provided by Salesforce, low-code tools or custom tools developed from scratch.

 

Advanced Data Management

 

If you have large amounts of data and complex business logic that can’t be fully covered with default Salesforce functionality, you can enable bulk processing of data. It is the best practice to manage operations like mass updates of records or weekly leads.

 

Real-Time Personalized Reporting

 

Default or configured reports/dashboards may not reflect all the necessary data about your business processes. Within Salesforce, you can create custom reports and dashboards for sales, marketing, and service professionals when they need better visibility into specific numbers.

 

Custom Email Templates

 

A well-crafted email is key to a successful email campaign. Via Salesforce customization you can design custom email templates and make them look as you want them to.

Have difficulties with ideation or completion of your Salesforce customization project?

5 Salesforce Customization Risks

 

CRM adoption and retention is a big issue when it comes to platform usability. In many cases, failed CRM customization means losing money and ending up with expensive yet useless solutions.

The Salesforce customization consultants like Ascendix help efficiently optimize the system to simplify its use and layout for teams. You can easily delegate this task to us to avoid the following risks:

 

1. Buying a Salesforce Edition That Can’t Be Customized

 

What you also should know prior to Salesforce license purchase is that you can’t customize any Salesforce edition. Salesforce Sales Cloud, for example, restricts customization capabilities this way:

Salesforce Customizability Capabilities | Ascendix

Customisability Comparison of Salesforce Editions

 

To mitigate the risk of using a half-baked solution, it’s better to consult a Salesforce expert who will recommend the most feature-rich yet budget-friendly option.

 

2. Over-customization

 

You might want to make Salesforce as functional as possible, however, if you set no real goal for the customization, you might waste your time and money on creating unnecessary features.

These will make the system bulky and user-unfriendly and lead to low adoption rates and lower productivity.

 

3. No Clearly Set Timelines

 

Another common source of trouble is planning with no finish line in mind. Before you start your customization project, you should think about:

  • The result you want to achieve,
  • The tools you need for this,
  • How your end users will use these new features.

If you have a long customization roadmap, it’s better to deliver essential functionality gradually and let users get accustomed to it first.

 

4. Steep Learning Curve

 

Salesforce can overwhelm everyone involved, but it’s important to engage users right from the prototyping stage and train them steadily up to the moment you see positive results.

Also, provide continuous support to users who feel they have a gap in their Salesforce knowledge or run into some technical issue.

You can create user guides, self-service portals, or video tutorials to cover typical queries and hire Salesforce admins to manage custom inquiries.

 

5. Technical Challenges

 

Before you launch your project, be aware of the following technical challenges:

  • Technical incompatibilities: some integrated solutions can be technologically incompatible with Salesforce, which will require extra customization at the initial stage or after it.
  • Seasonal releases: Salesforce rolls out updates three times a year that can’t be delayed or canceled. So, it turns out that you don’t actually own the system, no matter how customized it can be. And even though Salesforce releases bring innovation to your org, you are not asked whether you want these updates or not.

After these updates, you will be forced to make changes to the UI or functionality, which can require additional modification efforts from your side.

 

How Long Can Salesforce Customization Take?

 

To estimate how long Salesforce customization will take, you should specify the technical aspects, customization needs and their priority. Generally, Salesforce customization projects can take from eight hours to eight-plus months.

However, if you see that your current hands-on Salesforce customization experience may not be enough to undertake the customization project all on your own, or if you are pressed for time, no worries.

As your certified Salesforce consulting and AppExchange partner, our team has enough technical skills and experience to deal with any Salesforce customization challenge on your behalf. Reach out to our experts to find out how we can make it happen.

 

Salesforce Customization Cost Estimates

 

Total Salesforce customization cost is made up of many components such as Salesforce products and editions, number of users, consulting services cost, CRM configuration and customization, user training, and system support. Overall Salesforce customization can cost from $6,000 to $50,000.

 

Salesforce Customization Cost Estimates

Service
Cost
Salesforce Products and Editions
Pricing of the most common Salesforce Clouds ranges from $25 user/month to $300 user/month
Consulting Cost
Salesforce consulting services from a consulting agency can cost from $10,000 to $50, 000 depending on the range of services, vendors’ location, consultants’ level of seniority, and Salesforce & industry expertise
Data Migration
These activities can cost from $10,000 to $35,000 on average to address the possible needs of the company from the example
An End-User & Admin Training Cost
Total pricing of the user training is determined by a training mode, a number of users, and their types and can go up to another $10, 000 for a mid-sized company with sales, marketing, and customer service departments
CRM Customization Cost

What Expertise is Required for Salesforce Customization?

 

Salesforce configuration is less complicated compared to customization because the features and functions are available out-of-the-box in the ecosystem. But to use them properly, you need to clearly understand what these features mean and how to handle them.

If you don’t have enough internal resources to manage Salesforce configuration, you can hire external Salesforce experts such as:

  • Salesforce Administrators
  • Community Cloud Consultants
  • Sales Cloud Consultants
  • Service Cloud Consultants

Salesforce customization, on the contrary, may require Salesforce Platform Developer and Salesforce App Builder.

If you are unsure about what expert to engage with, look for a reliable Salesforce customization company that will do it for you. They will advise you on the best ways to handle your customization and configuration projects and help you answer essential questions to guide you through effectively.

 

Detailed SFDC Customization Plan

 

To perform a productive SFDC customization, you should follow a certain process. This detailed Salesforce customization guide will lead you through the 12 steps you need to perform to ensure project success.

 

1. Prepare Ahead

 

Salesforce customization is a complex process that should be planned well ahead to harmonize all items within the system. That’s why proper organization and task prioritization is a must.

Also, you should ask yourself if your business really needs Salesforce configuration or customization.

Once you see the real gaps that can be covered only with Salesforce configuration or customization, you should move on with all modifications.

 

2. Survey the Users

 

The main objective of the Salesforce customization process is to make Salesforce convenient and scalable for the end-users.

That’s why you should start interacting with the end-users to determine their specific needs behind customizing Salesforce.

While you survey the users, focus on the challenges they face using the system on a regular basis, features and tools they need but don’t have in Salesforce, and platform features that have become redundant for them.

 

3. Consult a Salesforce Customization Company

 

Before you launch your Salesforce customization project, you need to talk to Salesforce professionals. It will help you ensure that you take the right course of action and eliminate the errors at the early stage. Also, Salesforce experts can advise you on tools and approaches to make customization easier.

 

4. Prioritize Features You Want to Create

 

As soon as you’ve collected the list of features your end-users want to add to their Salesforce org, you need to weed out the ones that are not quite necessary and prioritize the rest.

Because unnecessary features not only can prolong the customization project but also stretch your budget to a great extent. Therefore, make sure that you stick to developing the functionality that will provide maximum benefits to the end-users and generate maximum ROI.

 

5. Use Sandbox Before Customization

 

Before you proceed with Salesforce customization, you should use the right sandbox prior to deploying customizations to your live org because it really isn’t worth the risk of ruining your system without the ability to roll back.

A proper sandbox will become your safe environment for customization testing without affecting your production org. There are 3 sandbox types in Salesforce with different purposes you can leverage:

 

Developer Sandbox

 

This sandbox type fits for creating and testing new customizations. Initially, the developer sandbox doesn’t contain any data so you can see a very clean system without any preexisting mess of data and add fresh data afterward.

 

Partial Sandbox

 

With this sandbox option, you can have a sample data set entered into your system, which allows you to try out customization and see an effect it may have on your existing data.

 

Full Sandbox

 

This is an utmost sandbox version which is a complete replica of your org, so you can deploy your new customizations into it and see how it will work in your system.

Full sandbox is usually used for final testing before rolling out to the live system, so it should be constantly updated to correspond to the production org.

Moreover, you can create various sandbox versions to try multiple development tools: Force.com, Heroku Enterprise, and Lightning — so that app designers can work with the tool that is best suited for getting the job done right.

 

6. Decide on Key CRM Terms for Simplified Communication

 

It’s necessary to use simple, concise, and structured naming conventions and proper system terms for effective communication among end-users, admins, and developers.

Even though there is no “universal” or “official” Salesforce naming conversion, there are three key methods that work for any organization:

 

Make Naming Conversion Structured

 

Your naming convention should use the same pattern throughout your org to make each feature, object, or process easily defined and understood.

 

Make Naming Conversion Concise

 

It is much easier to implement a new feature and increase its adoption if the naming convention is easy. The name should contain only vital information.

 

Make Naming Conversion Consistent

 

Naming conventions should be adopted company-wide and used by all Salesforce users not to create a mess and confusion.

 

7. Conduct Tests Regularly

 

Do not save time on proper testing of all the deployments before you finally roll out all the customization. They help detect new errors that appear due to data cleansing or alterations in validation rules or triggers. Validate code coverage of above 75%.

 

8. Train the End-users

 

After all the developments are completed, move on with consistent end-user training to ensure that users ate comfortable with using new features and tools. You can set up various sandboxes to educate them without the risk of damaging the live org and data in it.

It is advisable to take brief surveys throughout the whole process and analyze what works well and what should be improved.

 

9. Keep Documentation and Notes

 

Proper documentation is one of the key assets of your Salesforce customization project.

That’s why you should start documenting all the business requirements and goals you’d like to achieve with new technology and other implementation details discussed during the meetings and sync-ups.

Also, correct customization details about the deployed features help other developers, as well as future employees, understand your customizations. It also helps prevent customizations of unnecessary alterations or duplications.

 

10. Add Customization Details

 

After each Salesforce customization, you should add a description of newly created Salesforce features to a special area. It’s a common practice to make the life of other admins and developers easier.

Besides that, in this area, you can log all feature updates to simplify tracking of all changes that can impact other features.

Salesforce also enables message display on many fields and features such as validation rules or Apex. Thanks to them, the user may be notified if they’re doing something wrong or guided on how to use a new customization. It will ensure that the customization will be used for the intended purpose.

Salesforce Customization and Configuration Best Practices

 

These simple Salesforce optimizations help increase productivity without spending much time on their deployment:

 

1. Field Utilization Reports

 

This Salesforce configuration helps detect new sources that contaminate your system data. You can easily manage it by deleting the fields that are blank 30% of the time. Moreover, you should review fields that remain blank over 90% of the time. However, you may not need to remove it from Salesforce completely.

 

 

2. In-time Clean-Up and Optimization

 

To boost Salesforce productivity and security, you should restrict access to the platform to users that no longer need it or have left the company.

To optimize Salesforce use you can delete unused custom profiles and disable APIs that are unnecessary for security reasons. Make your role hierarchy simple. Otherwise, there would be a design issue to simplify roles organization.

 

3. Correct Validation Rules

 

To improve Salesforce use, you should reduce the number of rules and remove the inactive ones as well as hardcoded IDs in the Validation rules. It’s also necessary to migrate existing records that don’t match this rule a Validation Rule that is being added. Use Validation Rules if you want to create fields that meet specific criteria.

 

4. Well-Organized Triggers

 

General rules of Salesforce optimization are to use one trigger per object, avoid hardcoding IDs, complex logic in triggers, nested For loops as much as possible, enable context-specific manipulator methods in the trigger manipulator.

 

5. Fine-Tuned Email Templates

 

Salesforce configuration best practices related to email templates include using tables to arrange your email templates and nested tables with specified cell widths, creating your designs around 600 pixels wide, excluding CSS in emails, and including text formatting styles by default.

 

6. Login History Check-up

 

This SFDC configuration enables spotting any user lockouts and avoids any excessive login errors.

 

7. Consistent Salesforce Audit

 

This Salesforce configuration method involves a check for changes, additions, or removals made during the previous week. They should be tracked, documented, or commented upon in the original area where the changes were made.

Check Salesforce configuration for errors to prevent the CRM system from unexpected glitches.

Bottom Line

 

Salesforce has great customization potential and with the right resources, you can build a system as if developed in-house. It empowers users to support complex business processes within the platform and scale it infinitely without the risks of system security violations. Salesforce configuration allows you to tailor the CRM system according to your needs and automate multiple data-focused activities with point-and-click tools.

Salesforce customization companies like Ascendix are ready to provide versatile Salesforce customization services and customize the following Salesforce products:

  • Sales Cloud
  • Service Cloud
  • Marketing Cloud
  • Pardot
  • Experience Cloud

Our Salesforce experts will help you with:

  • A comprehensive Salesforce health check
  • Building a Salesforce customization roadmap that meets the customer’s requirements.
  • Developing custom integration solutions and custom code for seamless system integration
  • AppExchange app development and creation of Lightning Web Components and Flows
  • Ongoing customizations to ensure Salesforce solution scalability.
  • User training and support.
  • Regular system monitoring and performance check

Have a more specific request for customizing Salesforce? Ask our experts about the best way to handle it.

Salesforce Customization FAQ

Can Salesforce be customized?

Salesforce offers infinite customization capabilities for any company and industry. Salesforce customization helps completely personalize the user experience and extend the functionality both horizontally and vertically.

What is the difference between Salesforce configuration and customization?

Salesforce configuration is usually a code-free CRM optimization approach, whereas Salesforce customization involves substantial code-based developments. However, 90% of Salesforce implementation projects combine both modification approaches.

How much does it cost to customize Salesforce?

The Salesforce customization cost can vary from $5,000 to $60,000 and depends significantly on the complexity of the corporate internal processes and the technical approaches used for the CRM customization.

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