An Enterprise wide Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system is extremely beneficial to a company’s bottom line, especially when implementing comprehensive products like Salesforce. However, when implementing on an enterprise scale, the challenges can be daunting. By using Software Engineering principals, you can put your organization’s implementation in the best possible position to optimize your implementation.
With platforms like Salesforce, often customization is a key component to be able to meet the needs and goals that are unique to your firm’s business initiatives. If implemented correctly, the CRM software will scale to your growth and maximize your ROI. But as with all software implementations, the use of customizations should be done only when the base platform can’t effectively handle required functionality. Software engineers have the necessary skills and experience to know what to look for, when to look for it, and how to move forward accordingly. In order to have a successful Salesforce implementation, software engineering is key! Here’s where it can help most;
Prior to implementing Salesforce, chances are a company has already established processes and tools. Salesforce is made to coexist with those tools. Customized and well thought out integrations is the key to seamlessly incorporating Salesforce into you existing system flows and workflows. Salesforce has an extensive set of APIs the come with the base platform that allow for easy communications, and data flow with external systems. Software engineers are familiar with the correct way to use existing APIs and when new, custom APIs need to be developed. A well thought out enterprise wide architecture will insure that Salesforce will integrate the both legacy and 3rd party application systems correctly.
Configure or Customize
While using out of the box functionality is always preferable, there are times that you will need to build custom applications and components in order to support your unique set of functionality. Salesforce provides a robust platform to build such applications known as “force.com”. Salesforce is continually updating its core platform with new functionality, much of which comes from custom client functionality that evolve into commercial applications that can be integrated into the roadmap and ultimately future releases. Some of these newly custom built components evolve into commercial apps that are packaged separately and distributed on Salesforce AppExchange (similar to Apple's 'App Store') for all Salesforce users to adopt. Each of these apps are pre-integrated with the base Salesforce platform.
While company’s can uses customization to differentiate themselves in the market, there IS such a thing as over-customization. Salesforce has a multi-tenant architecture that enable user groups with specific privileges to access and customize components of their implementation. This can include UI, Database, Workflow, Reporting, etc. While this can provide strong differentiation, be careful because not all custom code is equal! Only certain code will translate through Salesforce upgrades. Established Salesforce Certified software engineers understand Salesforce 'Governor Limits' and will best determine where customization is essential and which are excessive. If you end up over-customizing you may have to go through and expensive “re-code” after the next software upgrade. Using an experienced, certified software engineer, the first time around, will prevent this from happening.
High Coding Standards
A notion often overlooked by implementers and developers, is the high coding standards of Salesforce. What does that mean? It means that in the event the code written to customize your applications does not meet Salesforce's set of requirements, it can be rejected. This will ultimately lead to user errors and delays in you implementation process. Certified Salesforce Software Engineers who are familiar with these requirements, understand how to comply with Salesforce's coding standards and will save you time and resources in the long run.
It is recommended that all Salesforce projects follow the agile methodology, which has become the norm for most software engineering projects. An agile approach ensures a cross-functional team with flexibility and adaptability through short iterations known as "sprints". This methodology has not only been adopted by, but also originated within, the software engineering community and working with someone with this experience can make all the difference in the world.
See the Big Picture
Software engineering allows for a holistic view enterprise ecosystem and how Salesforce fits in as a part of that ecosystem. It's integral to look at Salesforce within the bigger picture and understand how systems integrate with each other. Software engineers are trained in designing and coding with this in mind. They have the vision to see how your users will adopt the new software based on their use their current systems and processes, and will ensure that Salesforce is implement so that your business can reach its optimal potential.