Implementing Salesforce has almost always followed a clear structure: think about what you want for your business, find a partner/consultancy to talk through these business goals, and then use them to help get everything started. But what if you didn’t have to do all of that? The recent advancements in technology have seen things like AI and CRM functions go from strength to strength, and this is true for apps too.
With apps out there to guide anybody through the Salesforce implementation process from start to finish – do you even need a consultant at all?
Your Average Implementation
With over 2000 partners to choose from for your implementation, it’s safe to say that there is plenty of support available to get started with Salesforce. But how much does it cost?
Well, one of the first things to know about Salesforce implementations is that they can get pretty pricey, averaging between $5,000 and $100,000 for a small to medium implementation depending on the requirements. If you’re after a fairly simple, templated solution, then it’s not going to be as expensive as a larger org’s implementation that requires multiple, complex business processes.
QuickStart, The Accelerator Program, and Salesforce Easy
There are more specific options available for businesses too, like Salesforce Consultancy Quickstart options. Designed for SMBs (small medium businesses), are – as the name suggests – quickstart Salesforce implementations for companies with smaller budgets that still need expert guidance to get started. An SMB’s implementation is not expected to be overly complicated, which means they can take advantage of a program that will enable them to get started quickly, while also providing helpful training throughout the process.
Very similarly, Salesforce’s Accelerator Program has these kinds of goals, providing personalized work sessions called Accelerators to help solve business challenges that can arise with using Salesforce. Although this one isn’t as overtly marketed towards SMBs, they can still get a lot of value from them, especially as the main focus is growth and strategy for the AppExchange.
Another option for SMBs and bigger businesses alike is Salesforce Easy – a “startup”, simplified version of the main Salesforce platform designed to get implementations off the ground without hassle. It’s marketed as a “new way for customers to try, buy, and expand on Salesforce at their own pace”, which can be useful if you’ve got stakeholders or staff involved that are not too sure about using the platform.
Getting Consultants Involved
If you are a bigger company looking for a more tailored and dynamic Salesforce implementation, then you would probably look at getting a consultant or consultancy involved. After all, that’s what they’re there for!
A consultant/consultancy can get you started with an implementation without you needing to ‘get your hands dirty’ in Salesforce. By listening to what you and your company want, they can establish your requirements, be a solution designer, and bring their Salesforce expertise to fruition. They can also assist with user training, putting together documentation for employee learning and utilization.
Sometimes, having a consultant working with you for an implementation is necessary, especially if smaller startup efforts are too general or don’t provide enough guidance. It all depends on the business requirements.
The Rise of Apps
The technology boom has seen the rise of more accessible technology like generative AI, handheld, portable devices, etc. But I think a lot of people forget how handy it is that it also created apps.
Nearly all of us will use apps in some capacity every single day, for all purposes (entertainment, finance, travel). Over in the Salesforce space, there’s the AppExchange, so apps have their purpose here too.
There are lots of Salesforce apps that do all kinds of different things, but what if there was an app that could help you do something as important as implementing? Better yet: what if it could businesses of all sizes implement Salesforce, replacing their need for consultants altogether?
Enter apps like Swantide. Pioneering itself as a ‘Salesforce Admin in your keyboard’, Swantide is a cloud-based platform that helps companies design, build, and manage their go-to-market (GTM) systems. It makes it easier for anyone to implement and manage Salesforce, and the scope of its capabilities is quite extensive.
Users can pick through hundreds of pre-made, customizable templates to customize their Salesforce implementation. Additional tools like an AI Assistant provide tips along the way, track changes, and help you make complex decisions with expert advice.
Taylor Lint, the Founder and CEO of Swantide, enthuses over how accessible the app is. “We want anyone to become a 10x better admin,” she said. “[The templates] range from super simple to complex, for all kinds of different environments and use cases.”
Initially created for end users with little to no Salesforce experience, the app is now configured for anyone at any stage in their Salesforce knowledge journey and has a wide array of scenarios and specifications. This is reflected in the built-in tools; Taylor tells me that for example, if I didn’t know how to build a flow but I needed to, Swantide would help me “build one in minutes.” You don’t even need any training to use it!
On a deeper level, the app works closely with your org’s metadata, documenting it and creating a “data dictionary”. Taylor explains that when you encounter errors, the app looks at past data and problems and “sees how your team has responded to these in the past [so it can create solutions similar to this].”
When asked about whether you should use an app like Swantide or a consultant, Taylor’s answer is both. “Definitely both,” she said. “It depends on the company and complexity. Some customers use Swantide as their main resource for implementation, but we actually have a lot of tools for consultants. We also have consultants using our app to help them implement Salesforce for businesses.”
At the moment, the app is workflow and chat-based and mainly directed at people who manage Salesforce, but Swantide will be rolling it out to sellers in the future.
The Other Side: Consultants
The prospect of an app handling a Salesforce implementation is definitely exciting, but it’s important not to forget the other option: consultants.
Consultants are still very much relevant and haven’t had their jobs completely overruled. In fact, some of them think that developments like these apps are actually something interesting to keep an eye on. This is especially notable as the fear of AI like ChatGPT taking away technical staff jobs has become quite the trend; it might not be something to worry about after all.
Chris Aldridge, Salesforce Consultant and CEO of Silver Softworks, definitely shares this sentiment. “It’s clearly exciting times in the Salesforce ecosystem at the moment, with tooling and technical innovations improving at an incredible rate both on and off-platform,” he said. “It’s getting easier and easier to work on the technical side of Salesforce which is a win-win for everybody involved.”
However, he says that it’s important not to get caught up in the hype and remember that this kind of advanced tech is meant to act as assistance, rather than replacements.
“I think we’re still quite some way off from apps replacing Salesforce expertise,” he said. “Many of the recent innovations in apps and tooling, and in particular, artificial intelligence are beyond impressive, but let’s try not to get too caught up in all the hype – tech is still very much the sidekick to human expertise, and the two working in combination will likely continue to be the winning formula across the board for the foreseeable future.”
Salesforce has been gradually improving their UI and functions to make it easier to use for non-technical users over the years, so it makes sense that generative AI is the next step in that process.
However, Chris emphasizes that working with consultants has its unique perks that can’t be replicated with AI tools or apps. “In my view, the real value in partnering with a Salesforce consultancy lies in their wealth of knowledge, business process expertise, and their knack for crafting ingenious solutions to intricate business challenges, not in their ability to configure Salesforce – although of course, they should be able to do that too!” he laughs.
“I’ve come across many clients who were disappointed by their engagement with what are essentially Salesforce developers rather than consultants – instead of challenging customers, introducing fresh ideas, or innovating in any way, they instead mechanically replicated existing systems and processes which doesn’t really generate any additional value,” he said.
Unfortunately, having pre-built solutions at your disposal can not only limit creativity but make it easier to go for an “easier” option. This can lead to requirements being ignored or skirted around in favor of simplicity.
For that reason alone, consultants should not be ignored; they continue to bring value to certain use cases and implementations. For existing and future consultants, the rise of apps like Swantide shouldn’t be viewed as a concern but instead, as Chris puts it: an opportunity to improve existing solution management.
Apps vs. Consultants: Who to Choose?
With compelling arguments for both apps and consultants, we’re left with the final question: apps or consultants; who do you choose?
Well, the simple answer is either, but I know you didn’t read this far to just leave it at that.
The complex answer is that apps are great for some use cases and not for others, and the same can be said for consultants. Apps can be used for:
- SMBs with smaller, less complex implementation requirements.
- Implementations that already have process plans in place.
- Companies who want to utilize pre-built templates.
- Complete Salesforce newbies using Salesforce for the first time.
On the other hand, investing in a consultant could work better if:
- The implementation is larger and more complex.
- The company wants a much more custom solution.
As we’ve learned, sometimes these two implementation options actually work hand in hand, but this is case-by-case as well.
Depending on your use case and specs, apps like Swantide and consultancies like Silver Softworks could come in handy for your Salesforce implementation. They both have their benefits and drawbacks, and there’s also nothing stopping you from using them together to get the most out of the available human/AI resources.
The good news is that nobody is getting replaced, and there’s a solution out there for everyone.