Since its inception, Salesforce.com has become a widely used and powerful tool. We asked David Glettner to share his insight into how the platform fits in with other CRM and sales tools as well as provide a perspective into his experience of managing a large scale implementation.
Salesforce Pivot, from Saas to PaaS By David Glettner
Salesforce.com is not just for sales team automation anymore. In 15 years it has gone from a simple contact-tracking tool to a full featured platform that entire businesses operate on. Through planning and open communication this platform has the power and functionality to fuel and empower an organization's growth.
It started out as a way to track leads and accounts of people that were interested in purchasing goods and services. There is almost nothing that can’t be done on this PaaS offering from a pure relational database offering, to a full sales and service platform, coupled with an extremely active development community, you can do even more. From invoice and payment collection, to full customer and partner portals have been constructed and are easily deployed from third party developers. Within the past few years, organizations have been flocking to this platform to do much more, not only because of the flexibility, but also because of the scalability, extensibility and ease of deployment.
A successful implementation of the Salesforce.com technology relies heavily on a strong understanding of the business goals along with strong collaboration between stakeholders, and should include the following key strategies:
- Clearly identify business goals and stakeholders
- Documents existing systems and processes
- Clearly communicate the solution that is to be implemented, including the mapping of existing process to new process if there is a deviation
- Training of how to use the system from the vantage point of the main user types
While the dream is to have a single comprehensive system that houses all information, we find that a myriad of different specialized systems are brought together to accomplish business goals. Unfortunately, the systems usually look more like an alphabet soup, with a combination of multiple systems including CRM, ERP, APIs, etc. Over time, the overhead of different systems leads to an army of specialized consultants or a lot of key employees with indispensable institutional knowledge that are difficult to scale or replace.
So in this day and age when we are making great advances, what does this mean for us? It means that looking back to aspiration, there are many financial packages that allow for the tracking, sales, invoicing and payment collection all happening native within Salesforce.com. It means that while once the construction of a single system was almost a non-starter (due largely to the challenges presented in assembling a team with such a broad range of functional and operational skills), the SalesForce.com platform along with some of their native applications make the customization of a single system viable.
In a recent project that I had engaged in, there was an organization that was operating off of a combination of Salesforce.com, Seibel and PeopleSoft, as part of application sprawl that included 17 custom built applications for data transformation, integration and reporting. After a review and documentation of these systems and their business functionality, we were able to define a solution that allowed for a phased migration of the systems to the Salesforce.com platform, thereby reducing the costly consulting, NetOps, DevOps, hardware and associated overhead expenses.
So as you begin to review your strategic planning initiatives and current budgeting needs, you may want to re-evaluate your core systems and how you can leverage a cloud platform like Salesforce.com to further empower the business stakeholders and provide a smoother TechOps operation, consider your platform options.
Head of Enterprise Salesforce Initiatives @ Internet Brands