Updated on January 25, 2021
If neither you nor your team are Salesforce gurus and you have no time or resources to become one but you still want to leverage all the benefits of the Salesforce platform, then this guide will definitely be useful for you. It will tell you about the advantages of engaging with Salesforce partners in any implementation project in comparison to self-implementation while uncovering the nature of partnership. Additionaly, we will go over ideas on how to choose the best Salesforce implementation partner. Just keep reading to get more details.
So, why would you need Salesforce partners’ services? If you’re a small to medium-sized business (SMB), you may not have much experience with enterprise software implementations.
If you’re a larger business, you might not have enough resources or the skill set in-house to implement the solution.
However, a plethora of Salesforce implementation services offerings can be confusing and makes the selection of Salesforce implementation partners look more like “mission impossible”.
Fortunately, we are ready to share with you how to trim the fat and find an implementation partner that will be a perfect match for your project in terms of expertise, location, and budget.
But, starting with the basics, what is a Salesforce implementation partner is and what do they do?
Let’s dig together.
Salesforce Implementation Partner – Who Are You?
Prior to explaining what a Salesforce implementation partner does, it’s worth clearing the fog around the definition of Salesforce implementation.
Salesforce implementation is a multi-stage process of the Salesforce platform deployment and adoption in the organization.
But it should be noted, that it goes way beyond just the technical part.
The implementation also involves data cleansing, app integrations, employee training, and other significant steps to ensure that your Salesforce software will not only be used by your team to the full extent but will also benefit your business.
You can explore more details on how to make Salesforce implementation stress-free in our latest guide.
As you can guess, a Salesforce implementation partner is an outside company that works with you to select, implement, support, and expand on the right solution for your organization and helps you succeed in this process.
An implementation partner can provide you with:
- Guidance to a Salesforce solution that meets your company needs
- A piece of advice on optimal Salesforce pricing (there are lots of nuances and there is a way to cut your costs significantly in case you don’t need to use all functionality)
- A list of AppExchange apps to select instead of investing in custom development
- Ensuring your software solution is technically sound to avoid future challenges with future updates, data modeling, security, and over-customization
- Mitigation of the risks related to the project’s scope, timeline, and budget
- Encouraging and addressing change management in case of necessity for user adoption.
Depending on the complexity of your project, the Salesforce partner’s team may involve Salesforce administrators, consultants, developers, architects, an AppExchange consulting partner, or all of them at once. Now, let’s cover what roles these specialists play and what Salesforce certifications may imply.
Salesforce administrators (admins) assist their clients with maintaining the platform, resolving any issues, answering users’ questions about Salesforce use, and updating the Salesforce platform with new tools and features.
There are three types of Salesforce certified admins: Salesforce Certified Administrator, Salesforce Certified Advanced Administrator, and Platform App Builder. These are basic Salesforce certificates that are required for a Salesforce consulting partnership.
Salesforce consultants offer clients their help with software migration and customization, systems integration, or custom apps to prove expertise of their Salesforce certifications and portfolios of successful projects. And the variety of consulting certificates is quite impressive:
- Sales Cloud Consultant
- CPQ (Configure, Price, Quote) Specialist
- Service Cloud Consultant
- Field Service Lightning Consultant
- Community Cloud Consultant
- Einstein Analytics and Discovery Consultant
- Nonprofit Cloud Consultant
- Education Cloud Consultant
🔎Explore what we offer in terms of Salesforce consulting services that we have for you.
Salesforce developers build custom applications and analytics using declarative platform tools.
These specialists are required if your Salesforce implementation involves database modeling and platform customization.
Salesforce architects help to design and develop high-performance features across multiple platforms.
However, if your project needs a more narrowly focused specialist, the list of certificates can go way further:
- Data Architecture and Management Designer
- Sharing and Visibility Designer
- Identity and Access Management Designer
- Integration Architecture Designer
- Development Lifecycle and Deployment Designer
- Mobile Solutions Architecture Designer
- Heroku Architecture Designer
- Application Architect
- System Architect
- Technical Architect
AppExchange partners build and sell commercial solutions on AppExchange (Salesforce marketplace). These solutions range from software development building blocks like Lightning components or Bolt solutions (Community solution templates) to full-featured apps that run on the Salesforce platform and involve external services.
🤓Learn how we can help you with AppExchange app development services.
Of course, if your implementation includes Marketing or Commerce Clouds, you may want to look closely at Salesforce implementation partners in these expertise domains and with corresponding certificates like Pardot Specialist, B2C Commerce Architect, or Salesforce Accredited B2B Commerce Administrator.
Salesforce Implementation Partnership —Win-Win Relationships
It may sound odd, but this partnership equally benefits all participants: customers, partners, and Salesforce.
How a customer can benefit:
- Earn quicker ROI
- Get access to expertise and resources that don’t exist internally
- Achieve all business objectives
- Discover the best practices through the partner’s experience
How a partner can benefit:
- Build stronger relationships with both a customer and Salesforce
- Have satisfied customers who are interested in exploring more products and solutions
- Gain positive ratings on the Salesforce Consulting Partner tab rating tool in AppExchange
- Get more expertise in projects of different level of complexity
How Salesforce can benefit:
- Optimize their solution due to customers’ feedback
- Build stronger, trusted relationships
- Enlarge their satisfied customers base
- Get additional revenue without spending on sales and marketing
It’s Never Too Early or Too Late to Engage with a СRM Implementation Partner
Regardless of whether you are only thinking of Salesforce implementation or have already started your implementation process, you can always seek partners’ help.
However, if you choose to involve them earlier, the risks that something can go wrong will be significantly lower.
So, how can Salesforce implementation partners like Ascendix Technologies help you?
First, our experts will design a strategy for Salesforce implementation to meet your internal and external needs and estimate the optimistic, pessimistic, and most likely scenarios for your project timeframe and budget.
Second, we will surface the risks and provide the ways to overcome them, and, moreover, suggest the best tips for data migration, systems integration or customization, and app development on top of Salesforce while taking into account your company requirements along with its strengths and weaknesses.
Due to this, you will be able to identify what internal specialists can perform each task and certain implementation roles and what external Salesforce specialists you will need to hire.
Third, if you have already designed a Salesforce implementation plan, you’ll hear another expert opinion on it to attest its accuracy.
Or, if you are in the middle of the process and have faced any challenges or get any ideas, our consultants will recommend the most appropriate and cost-effective solutions. And, again, suggest Salesforce experts who can help you with functionality deployment and maintenance.
How to Choose the Best Salesforce Implementation Partner – Essential Hints
What makes a Salesforce specialist YOUR perfect technology partner?
Although possessing the technology skill is one of the most important parts, it is highly likely that it goes beyond just that.
To find your best fit you need to look way beyond just technical expertise because in this case your partner won’t be a real “partner” but rather only an order-taker.
So, what is the recipe of a successful Salesforce implementation partnership, and how can you find your ideal match?
Find ideas on what you should pay attention to when selecting an implementation partner in this section.
Culture and language fit
It may sound weird, but sharing the same company culture, vision, and language for communication is much more important than a technology skillset.
To make your project a real blockbuster you have to be on the same ground, share the same interest, passion for work, and commitment to the project’s triumph.
Because in this case, such partners will perform not just tasks that you’ve hired them to perform but will also advise and do what will be better for your project from all aspects and support you in all stages of implementation.
What does Ascendix Technologies have to offer you in terms of culture and language fit?
Complete alignment with your business values, enthusiasm, and dedication to the project of any complexity. We are ready to take on any challenge because of the innovation and commitment that is in our DNA.
Our on-shore, off-shore, and blended engagement models guarantee a culture and language match for companies in any location. Check which one of our European-based clients said about our working processes and company values.
❓ Interested in partnering with Ascendix? Request Free Salesforce Implementation Consultancy
Industry and solution expertise
Yes, a Salesforce partner can be a super great technology expert with a myriad of certifications but if they have zero understanding of your industry needs and challenges, chances are your partnership will end nowhere.
Especially, if ’re talking about super specific niches like commercial real estate or capital markets.
Because in order to solve the crime you need to think like a criminal, and that’s why it’s better to look for industry-oriented Salesforce implementation specialists who have long-term proven expertise.
Speaking of Ascendix, we have been operating in the commercial real estate and real estate industry for more than 17 years.
And for this time we’ve mastered not only optimization and customization of Salesforce CRM solutions, but we have also developed our own Salesforce-based software and apps like AscendixRE, Ascendix Search, and Marketspace designed specifically for real estate brokers.
This helped us to learn the full cycle of the Salesforce ecosystem from the perspective of the real estate sector.
Despite our focus on the real estate domain, we have successfully deployed CRM optimization and custom development for a long list of industries like Finances, Insurance, Real Estate Investment, etc. Discover more about our domain expertise here.
Certifications and technical skills
Of course, certifications as a means of proving the credibility of a company is one of the key deciding factors in the selection of your Salesforce implementation partner.
But will all the Salesforce certifications be equally important to you?
If you are a small to mid-sized organization and you are not planning to over customize your software, why should you pay more for the company services that have lists of certifications which include a full-set of various solution architects?
Surely, it proves that they are quite versatile but all these certifications are not free and should be verified from time to time. So, why should you pay more for unnecessary expertise in this case?
Equally, the scope of their technical skills and experience with their implementation can be proven by number of partner’s diverse project case studies and the availability of their custom developed apps not only for clients’ but for themselves and clients’ feedback and references. This practical experience can demonstrate in-depth knowledge of various tech stack applied to software development.
We, at Ascendix, are constantly upgrading our existing apps and developing new software solutions to evolve along with software development market demands and our clients’ businesses. It makes us technology experts not only in theory but in practice as well.
👉Check out more in our definitive guide on how to select a CRM consultant or tell us about your Salesforce project ideas.
Location and geographical presence
Location of your Salesforce implementation partner comes into play when you decide what type of business engagement model you prefer: to have a local Salesforce implementation partner, to hire an offshore specialist or a company with a global delivery capacity that means that you can find a partner outside your country but that will work in the same time zone with you and cost you less.
In terms of geographical presence, we can offer our clients a bigger choice due to our global resources availability both in Dallas, Texas, and in Eastern Europe. You can select any Salesforce team composition based on your budget and requirements without loss of quality.
Competency and customer satisfaction
Another tip that can help you select the best Salesforce implementation partner is to pay attention to the company rating and the number of completed projects.
Also, it’s a good practice to ask for customer reference or case studies of similar projects to see the success rate and scope of the partner’s experience with various clients.
Review platforms like themanifest.com, Clutch.co, and AppExchange can serve as a valuable and independent source of customer feedback.
What makes such reviews unique is that prior to publishing them, platforms verify the legitimacy of posters that exclude the possibility of ranting and libeling.
Our main principle is to be always transparent and fair with our clients and that is reflected in our customers’ reviews not only on our website but also on independent platforms like Clutch.co and AppExchange. Also, on our website, you may see case studies and interviews with our clients where you may find more details about their business challenges and how we helped to cope with them.
Deployment of your Salesforce solution is not nearly a final stage of the implementation process. If you want to ensure that it will be used by all of your users, you need to train and support them through the whole adoption journey.
This may require external help from your partner in the creation of educational videos, sandbox versions, and after-training support to guarantee that all the issues are targeted and resolved.
Our team strives for successful Salesforce adoption in your organization as much as you do, so, it’s mandatory for Ascendix to ensure that all your team members can freely use Salesforce. Our Salesforce consultants not only create educational videos for our clients but also write expert articles on specific topics that our customers are concerned about (all these Salesforce- related educational resources can be found on our blog).
Complimentary Add-On: Ready-to-use Set of Questions to Ask Your Potential Salesforce Partner
To make the process of your potential partner’s assessment easier for you, you can use a list of questions to ask on the interview:
- Can you describe a similar project and the results you achieved?
- Can you provide case studies?
- Can you provide customer references?
- Can you describe a project that did not go well and how you realigned for success?
- What technical skill set, including certifications, can your team offer for my project?
- What is your experience in “X” industry?
- How many similar deployments have you done?
- Have you worked with my company before?
- Will partner resources be on-site, remote, or both?
- How would you describe your company’s culture?
- How have you helped other customers with similar goals?
- What are the obstacles faced with this type of business transformation?
- How did you help your customer overcome those obstacles?
- Can you deliver training to our admins?
- Can you deliver training to our users?
- What delivery methodology do you use?
- What is the lead time required for staffing the project?
- Will certified resources be assigned for the duration of the project?
- What is your confidence level that the same project members will see the project through to completion?
- How many similar projects have these resources completed successfully?
- What resources do you need from us?
- What is the time commitment you will need from our team?
- How much access from my subject matter experts (SMEs) do you need?
Identify Salesforce Implementation Roles
What are the typical roles of Salesforce implementation partners in projects? What roles can be performed by your team and what — by your implementation partner?
These and other questions are answered below.
The main goal for you and your Salesforce implementation partner is to build a partnership, you need to understand which roles in software implementation will be performed by you and which roles by your partner.
Let’s break typical project roles into three role-owners categories that can be performed by a customer (you), your partner, and by both:
Implementation Roles Performed by a Customer
Business Executive Sponsor usually manages the implementation and communication and provides leadership.
IT Executive Sponsor sets priorities across the IT sector, defines the deployment budget, and removes technology roadblocks.
Client Subject Matter Expert (SME) mainly explains a-day-in-the-life for various roles, helps with process flows, assists with user experience and user acceptance testing (UAT), and works with the implementation team to validate that a workable solution is being created.
Implementation Roles Performed by a Partner
Engagement Manager’s scope of services involves transferring knowledge on the proposed solution and passing on client needs to the implementation team, mitigation, and managing critical escalations both for customers and the implementation team.
Solution Consultant’s responsibilities are conducting solution workshops, facilitating the business process and their automation discussions, providing guidance on the best practices for security models, showing mobile deployment strategies, business processes, workflows, data validations, and the analytics, designing, and configurations of solution specification deliverables.
Joint Implementation Roles
Project Manager‘s role in the implementation process is performing communication with the project team, development and management of the project plan, tracking milestones, budget, and timeline, and identifying possible risks.
Salesforce Admin will maintain the system and support the users after launch and oversee required post-implementation.
Change Management Expert will be needed for designing and implementing the adoption strategy.
Note that in smaller projects, the team may consist of just one or two people playing multiple roles. The scope and complexity of the project determine which roles are fulfilled by the partner and which roles are fulfilled by you.
Choose a Salesforce Implementation Partnership Model
Now it’s time to pick the partnership model that will be the best fit for you based on the pros and cons of three main models of Salesforce implementation scenarios:
- when the partner performs all of the implementation
- when Salesforce implementation partner and you perform the implementation
- when you perform all of the implementation with a partner’s guidance
The Partner Performs All of the Implementation
In this type of partnership, you outsource most of the implementation project work to the partner.
Advantages of this approach
- Salesforce experts complete technical work with extensive product and industry knowledge
- Experience with implementation processes
- Focus on connecting business process and the desired outcome
Disadvantages of this approach
- Higher implementation cost
The Partner and You Perform the Implementation
In this partnership model, you and the partner split the responsibilities for joint development.
Advantages of this approach
- Lower implementation cost
- Salesforce product experts design architecture
- Hands-on experience for your staff configuring and customizing the solution
- Additional training for your team to support the solution post-implementation
Disadvantages of this approach
- Complex project management managing both external and internal resources
- Longer timelines of implementation stages
You Perform All of the Implementation with a Partner’s Guidance
In this model, the partner takes on the role of an advisor and you own all the deliverables.
Advantages of this approach
- You become self-sufficient
- Your team learns how to speed on the platform and how your business processes can best be supported
Disadvantages of this approach
- Longer project completion timeline
In brief, it doesn’t really matter which model you choose, the most important is to engage with the right partner at the right time.
Salesforce implementation partner selection can be complicated and simple at the same time, especially if you are looking for a technology partner for the first time.
To facilitate this process, the first and foremost step is to consult Salesforce experts that can explain complex ideas in a relatable way with reference to your specific needs. This is exactly how Salesforce consultants at Ascendix may help you due to a perfect combination of deep technical knowledge, field experience, and an irresistible desire to Salesforce everything.
Just reach out to our Salesforce support team and discover what solutions we can provide for you!