Salesforce Consultants have a variety of responsibilities to manage in their role. While organisation is a key trait to what makes a good Salesforce consultant, you should look to improve your productivity, client communication, and Salesforce project deliveries with the help of apps.
Having worked in multiple Salesforce consultancies and as an independent consultant, I’ve compiled this list based on the most popular tools used in the partner ecosystem. For most categories, I have included both free and paid options (and highlighted which tools are definitely worth paying for!) Whether you’re a new or seasoned Salesforce consultant, take a look at these essential tools to keep in handy in your digital toolbox.
General Productivity & Communication
“An integrated suite of cloud-native collaboration and productivity apps…includes Gmail, Docs, Drive, Calendar, Meet and more”
G Suite is the popular choice among Salesforce consultancies. Personally, I haven’t used anything but GSuite since 2015. If you’re coming from a Microsoft stronghold, I recommend you brush up on Gmail and its related apps.
Although G Suite comes with Google Hangouts, Slack is a workplace communication tool on steroids that took the world by storm circa 2015. It was the first player in the market to combine group chats and person-to-person messaging, in an intuitive interface.
Some even use it for communicating with clients particularly if the project management tool is a labyrinth of Salesforce jargon.
There’s even a Slack to Salesforce integration you could take advantage of.
Free – with limitations
Quip is like a combination of Slack and Google docs. It’s a word processing app that offers so much more than your typical document management, especially the ways it can be integrated with your Salesforce org.
I recommend Quip to consultants for bringing the gap between Salesforce org data, and making it readable for clients. For example, you can pull related lists, Salesforce reports (and more) into a document, and work in Quip with clients with the reassurance that the bi-directional sync with Salesforce records maintains your org as the true ‘source of truth’.
Thanks to Helen for giving us a tour of how Quip can be used, for user productivity benefits, and security for Admin peace of mind – I recommend you read the whole guide.
I have used Evernote for years because it does the job for quick note-taking, whether that be taking rough notes during a call, or using it to copy, manipulate, and paste information.
Although you are likely to have Google Docs at your disposal, Evernote is far more lightweight. I even find the two-step process of moving my notes from Evernote to Google Docs gives me a chance to reorganize them to the best order.
An essential Chrome extension for writing documents or emails to clients, especially if grammar isn’t one of your strong points (or you type emails at breakneck speed)!
Grammarly is more sophisticated than other spell-checkers; what I love are Grammarly alerts when I could have used a more concise sentence to get my point across.
Project Management & Time Tracking
Time Tracking – Kimble, Toggl, Harvest
Tracking your time is how you track your profitability as a consultant. Recording your task entries per client, per task can be a tedious ask, so it’s important to choose a software that makes it as frictionless as possible. Here are some options I have come across working in different Salesforce consultancies:
Kimble (Paid): time tracking is only one element of the Kimble full-blown solution, which is geared towards granular resource tracking. Not the most visually aesthetic, but is certainly robust!
Other consultancies may build their own custom time trackers in Salesforce using custom objects tied to the user object.
Toggl (Paid): from the look and feel of the Toggl website, you get a sense of what the app aims for. Whenever you start a new task, you can simply press the ‘play’ button, effortlessly giving you start and stop times. It’s lightweight but I know large teams that use it happily.
Harvest (Paid): For independent consultants, I highly recommend Harvest. It’s a no-nonsense time-tracking tool that I have used for years (one of the few paid apps that I kept throughout my freelance stint). Harvest offers more features, such as invoicing, expense tracking, and more (although I found this overlapped with my accountancy and banking software).
Task Management – Jira, Asana
As an industry-standard, all consultants will encounter Jira at some point in time. Jira becomes a must-have for consultants working on larger projects, with the ability to create dependencies between tasks and teams. Jira is designed to work in sprints, and the ‘tickets’ can be displayed in multiple ways, including Gantt style.
Asana (Free – with limitations):
Then there’s Asana. I love Asana, it’s my go-to project management tool. Was created by an ex-Facebook engineering lead who was frustrated with how their projects were managed internally (surely a vote of confidence for the tool!)
My thoughts are that Asana is best suited for:
- Independent consultants,
- Consultants working on smaller projects with fewer dependencies between tasks,
- Consultants working collaborating with clients, where a tool like JIRA is less intuitive and typically an overwhelming experience!
Process Mapping & Visualization
Process Mapping – Lucidchart (+ Miro)
Lucidchart (Free – with limitations):
Lucidchart enables consultants to show Salesforce processes step-by-step using diagrams, using drag-and-drop from a range of pre-made shape libraries. An absolute essential for consultants.
At the discovery stage, use Lucidchart to enrich the proposal you send to your clients with visual flow diagrams that help communicate the value of your work in terms of efficiency and user productivity gains. At the end of the project (hand-off and training stage), use the same flow diagrams to lead users through what you built so they understand the process end-to-end.
At the time of writing, the Lucidchart free version limits you to 3 diagrams, each with a maximum of 60 shapes. It’s worth paying for, in my opinion (another paid app that I kept throughout my freelance stint).
Miro (Free – with limitations):
Miro is an online whiteboard, that updates in real-time (think of it if a Google Doc turned into a whiteboard). See in action below:
I personally find whiteboards indispensable when gathering requirements and demonstrating how Salesforce works. There’s something about this tool that gets people excited about the possibilities their future org offers!
Video Recording – Loom
Loom is such a gift! You can record videos that show your face and screen (or screen-only) and share it with clients in a number of ways. The Chrome extension sits on your browser, ready to launch when you need it for recording training videos, or for clients record bugs for troubleshooting (the modern, more effective version of ‘send me a screenshot).
Design & mock-up: Sketch, Canva
Lightning Design System Plugin for Sketch (Paid – limited time trial):
Sketch is a design platform for UI, mobile, web, and icon design. Create quick Salesforce UI mockups with the Lightning Design System Plugin for Sketch! The plugin surfaces SLDS components, icons, wireframes, and artboards as Sketch symbols.
Sketch offers a fully-featured 30-day free trial. Check out what one consultant had to say in our guide on the blog.
Canva has enabled thousands of people to become graphic designers to an extent! By uploading components into Canva (such as the parts of an email template), you can create mock-ups to get client approval before you built, mitigating multiple revisions. The same goes for Lightning components on a Salesforce page layout.
Canva also comes with hundreds of templates for various content and documents, such as presentations, logos, proposals, and more – so be sure to explore these too!
Scoping & Proposal
e-Signature – Docusign, Hello Sign
Using e-Signature for getting client sign off on proposals, statements of work, or any change requests raised during the project duration.
Docusign needs little introduction. One of the original players in the market, you’re guaranteed an outstanding product with a good Salesforce integration.
A lightweight and reliable e-signature option, HelloSign is ideal even for consultants who are starting out (with its friendly price point). For a small upgrade, you can connect it to your Salesforce org.
If you don’t have Data Loader installed, can you really call yourself a Salesforce consultant?
This free application is used for insert, update, delete, and extract records to or from a Salesforce org. Data Loader works with all objects and its capabilities are superior to the built-in Data Import Wizard.
Note: check your client’s data requirements. If these exceed 10,000 records/per month/org, invest in a paid license from dataloader.io and take advantage of its advanced features.
Check out more recommendations featured on our “The 5 Best Data Loaders for Salesforce” list. You may find that these come with additional features your clients need, so keep an open mind.
With this Chrome extension, you can copy HTML table columns without the data order or formatting becoming disrupted. This is great for copying the content of Salesforce list views, or in Salesforce setup, tables like object fields list under the ‘Fields and Relationship’ page.
Spanning is an AppExchange vendor with a first-class data backup and restore tool. It’s good to have a tool like Spanning to hand for:
- Restoring data if a data load goes wrong,
- Sandbox seeding: to fill sandboxes with test data,
- Metadata compare: see changes between production and sandboxes highlighted.
Read this overview to see how a backup and restore tool could save your skin in the heat of the moment!
It is recommended that every org has a backup provider. Although Spanning is not cheap, it will be the client who will pay for licenses to apps like this.
Deduplication: DemandTools, Clouddingo, Duplicate Check
Deduplication is a necessary, but painful, part of every CRM consultant role (whether you’re tasked with the actual deduping, or not).
There are two sides to the same coin: prevention and remedy. Better be equipped with the tools that can help you out in your duplicate data despair, and leave your clients armed for the future!
DemandTools (Paid – per user):
DemandTools is the all-encompassing option, referred to as the “Swiss Army knife” of Salesforce data management. These 10 modules enable you to manage imports, data standardization, lead conversion, Salesforce reports, backups, email verification, and record ownership – in bulk! (oh, I should mention they have been a leading data management tool-set for Salesforce for 20 years!)
Clouddingo (Paid – per org):
A popular option. I remember how easy it was to get up and running, processing a dirty org, and identifying duplicates in minutes. Big plus for consultants: scheduled jobs can run in the background to deduplicate data to continue your data hygiene efforts, even after you have concluded the project.
Pricing per org.
Duplicate Check (Paid – per org):
When I first saw a demo of Duplicate Check, I was blown away. This is a fantastic option for consultants who want to introduce deduplication functionality into a Salesforce org for users to routinely manage duplicates themselves (DC Live). While incredibly powerful in how granular you can make the logic, it’s also bewilderingly simple to set up and use. Read our full review here.
ORGanizer for Salesforce
Working with multiple orgs? Sick of your browser tabs being blanketed with the same blue cloud logo? This Chrome extension has helped many of us consultants organise the client orgs (and own internal orgs) we could be working with simultaneously.
Not only does this tool store logins for your frequently used accounts username/password/login URL/landing page, but you can also use colours to differentiate your browser tabs. Every consultant knows a tab-heavy browser is unavoidable, but colour-coding should help when switching between projects.
Field Data Relationships – DLRS, Lookup Helper & Roll-up Helper
Declarative Lookup Rollup Summaries (DLRS)
The Declarative Lookup Rollup Summaries (DLRS) managed package is a must-have for creating rollup summaries between lookup relationships. Andy Fawcett’s open-source tool is a gift, enabling you to define rollups using standard UI declaratively, no coding required!
Why is this a big deal?
You will encounter many use cases for creating rollup summary fields. You will all know that you can’t create rollup summaries between two objects with a lookup relationship (only those in a master-detail relationship). So, how can you fulfill a client’s requirement to not let them down?
You could write an Apex Trigger. This isn’t a friendly option for declarative consultants, and involving a developer will each into your profits.
Lookup Helper/Rollup Helper
Free – with limitations
Solving the same consultant pain points as DLRS, these too AppExchange products can step in to save the day.
- Rollup Helper: roll-up any Salesforce data (count, sum, max, min, average, percent, lookups, text, formula, and multi-currency roll-ups)
- Lookup Helper: automatically relate records via lookup relationships.
The interface is a lot easier to use than DLRS, designed more with the layman in mind. This would be the better option to leave with your clients to manage internally. There is less risk of your rollups breaking if and when there are product updates.
The free version is limited to 3 active roll-ups/look-ups, which may be sufficient for what you need to do. You can buy the whole ‘Helper Suite’ which may be a better option depending on the requirements for rollups and lookups.
See also: ‘The Salesforce Automation Guide’ in: ‘Delivering Training’.
Not all deployments are equal. Some deployments are made more complex if data (and not metadata) is involved. The reason migrating data from one org to another (for example, from a sandbox to production) is a headache is because each record will have a unique 15/18 digit CRM ID, related to another record with a 15/18 digit CRM ID. These IDs will be different across orgs, so maintaining these data relationships is a huge undertaking.
Prodly is one deployment tool that improves the data migration experience for consultants.
Some examples where a deployment tool will aid are FinancialForce, GainSight, Conga Composer, Conga CLM, with Prodly especially popular for CPQ deployments.
Org Monitoring & Analysis
Salesforce Optimizer App
Salesforce Optimizer is a built-in app that scans a Salesforce org and analyzes 40+ metadata features, such as fields, Apex triggers, page layouts, etc. It’s a great place to start to get a sense of the overall health of an org. The app serves up recommendations on a sidebar with estimated configuration effort and resources.
Another unmissable Chrome extension for consultants (and developers) that allows you to inspect data and metadata directly from the Salesforce UI.
A handy popup reveals what data lies beneath the surface. In the words of the app developer themselves: “improve the productivity and joy of Salesforce configuration, development, and integration work.”
Happy Soup is an open-source, dependency inspector developed by Pablo Gonzalez. Keep this app in your back pocket to do quick metadata dependency checks before making a change to a Salesforce org (especially when coming into an unfamiliar org without the full context). For example, before you change or delete a field, check which reports use the field in question.
From the slimmed-down interface, select the metadata type, metadata item, and watch the dependencies list unfold. Choose whether to run an impact analysis or deployment boundary analysis.
Find the Happy Soup documentation here.
Elements delivers full visibility to the requirements-configuration-documentation lifecycle, as opposed to one isolated part (metadata dependency). This has a huge amount of value for large enterprises with multiple consulting/development teams. You would be amiss to have your clients overlook getting Elements, particularly if their org’s complexity warrants it; you will leave client-side teams with the level of contextual documentation (and confidence) to continue administering their org. Access to the process mapping is free at the basic level. If you’re interested in hearing more, check out a previous review I wrote about Elements.
Don’t forget! Tools that were featured in the ‘Process Mapping & Visualization‘ section can also be used here – in fact, it’s best you do use the same documentation throughout the project lifecycle for continuity.
Gamification – Quizizz
You only need to visit Trailhead once to see the power of gamification in learning, and what may have previously been considered childish (quizzes, badges, bright colours) has taken the Salesforce ecosystem by storm.
Consider breaking up your long training sessions with quizzes. Quizizz is the tool that we use for our Trailblazer Community group at the end of each meet-up. Kahoot! was another tool we used in the past, but it seems that after a recent rebrand they are now appealing to the elementary/primary school audience.
The Salesforce Automation Guide
The Salesforce Automation Guide is a free, self-service resource you should all bookmark. A Senior Technical Architect at Salesforce compiled everything you need to know about Salesforce into one place, including limits, and that all-important ‘future-proofness’.
Use it to guide your own work, or for training newbie client-side Admins you are leaving the org keys to after you complete the project.