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Guide to Salesforce Platform Licenses – Tips, Tricks & Best Practices

By Paul Ginsberg

There are lots of different Salesforce licenses for the core Salesforce platform. In this article we’re going to explore two of the newer kinds that have been launched: Platform Starter and Platform Plus (until very recently known as Lightning Platform and Lightning Platform Plus licenses). These ‘new kids on the block’ are available for Enterprise edition and above.

They can sit in tandem/co-exist peacefully with existing licenses (e.g. Sales Cloud and Service Cloud), but aren’t talked about too much, so this article offers a deeper dive.

Salesforce Licenses – Recap

As a recap, here are the links to all the main Enterprise licenses types, including a rather handy PDF specification/comparison sheet – just click “download the full comparison sheet” on the relevant page:

And the Platform licenses in particular:

  • Platform Starter (10 custom objects, available on Enterprise and Unlimited only)
  • Platform Plus (110 custom objects, available on Enterprise and Unlimited only)

What are Platform Licenses?

Platform Starter and Platform Plus licenses offer the standard Salesforce functionality you’ve come to know and love. However, the range of standard objects and the number of custom objects are severely curtailed – e.g., barely anything sales or service-related.

Here are some examples of where the Platform licenses could be suitable:

  • Your business uses Managed Packages for the majority of its processes
  • For a particular department that doesn’t use Opportunities (e.g., post-sales operations)
  • You have a non-standard business model – quite frequent for nonprofits, where you might be tracking applications or providing non-monetary goods or training

Platform licenses include Accounts, Contacts and Reports as well as the automation tools that you know and love (e.g., Flow and Apex). They also include standard individual and mass emailing functionality. For a more complete breakdown you can also see this Salesforce Help article.

Depending on the license you choose, you get access to 10 or 110 custom objects per user (Starter and Plus respectively).

You can also mix and match licenses, for example having 20 Platform Starter licenses and 15 Sales Cloud licenses. However, as a reminder, they all must be on the same Salesforce edition (e.g., you can’t have some on Enterprise edition and some on Unlimited edition).

Important Tips!

  1. Contract restrictions – recreating standard objects. Salesforce is extremely clear about this. If you copy certain standard features using custom techniques, then you must pay for those standard features. The main example is Opportunities and recreating the functionality contained therein to save on cost. Salesforce takes enforcement action against this as you are breaking their terms and conditions.
  2. Features do change over time – you can check the date at the top of this article for when it was last updated! e.g., a license may have a certain limitation at one point in time that may be changed later on.
  3. If you’re not sure, test it in a sandbox. You can ask your Salesforce Account Executive to get (demo) licenses enabled.
  4. When you change a user’s license (e.g., between “Salesforce” and “Salesforce Platform”, as we’ll see later on) all the existing Permission Sets are removed from that user. You can just reassign them back immediately after the license change if you’ve kept a note of them(!).
  5. Included data and file allowances change, depending on both, edition and number of licenses.
  6. Some features are more flexible than others – e.g., with these licenses you can sometimes buy more objects, rather than change to a different license type. Speak to your Salesforce Account Executive for more info.
  7. Publicly available AppExchange products do not count towards the 10 or 110 object limit.

Changing Salesforce Licenses

Sometimes you’ll see references to “Salesforce licenses”, which are Sales Cloud, Service Cloud or a combination thereof and sometimes to “Salesforce Platform licenses” which are the Platform Starter and Platform Plus licenses. In practical terms there’s no difference – both types have the same standard interface. It’s just a matter of a couple of clicks to transfer users between one and the other (as often as you want!) bearing in mind Tip #4 above, that you have to reapply any Permission Sets each time.

All licenses are controlled via profiles. When you buy the relevant licenses you get a standard profile for that license added to your edition, which you can clone and customise. You then just assign a user to the particular profile and can change their profile assignment as often as you want, should their role change.

To change between a Platform and “normal” (e.g. Sales or Service license) Salesforce license: on the User editing screen, you simply change the “User License” and pick the correct Profile (basically it’s a dependent picklist).

Best Practice

Keep your profiles very “bare bones” if you can, with only a few (or zero) objects. Then add in the permissions you require via permission sets (or permission set groups of course) – this enables users with different licenses to share the same permission sets. It reduces the number of profiles you need keeping things relatively easy to maintain going forward as you only need to update permission sets rather than keep track of multiple profiles as well.

Summary

There’s a lot of information to take in about Salesforce licenses and a lot of options. The time spent to work out your use case could have a very high ROI and unlock Salesforce for more areas of your business.

Further reading:

p.s. Huge thanks to Caroline Häming (especially for the Sales and Service Cloud comparisons) and Esti Raif for their assistance with putting this article together.

The Author

Paul Ginsberg

Paul is a nonprofit specialist and Golden Hoodie.

Comments:

    Maruti
    September 27, 2021 7:25 pm
    Can you please explain more or provide pointers what do you mean by copying standard functionalities(Contract restrictions – recreating standard objects)
    Jon
    September 28, 2021 8:39 pm
    I've been going back and forth with support and our AE (who both say they don't know and to ask each other) about how to Manage Flows with a Salesforce Platform Plus license. https://www.salesforce.com/editions-pricing/platform/ clearly shows that process automation is available on a Platform license, but we don't seem to be able to assign the needed Manage Flow permission to these users. However, the comparison chart PDF for Platform has a small hidden footnote: > Salesforce Platform licenses are intended for end users. App developers must have access to admin rights either via a full CRM license or a Salesforce Platform admin license. Do you know what a Salesforce Platform admin license is and how to get one?
    Paul Ginsberg
    October 08, 2021 2:55 pm
    Hi Jon. You still need to have a full license (e.g. Sales or Service Cloud) in order to Administer flows. Your Platform users can benefit from flows, but you one full license is need to set them up in the first place.
    Ben James
    October 12, 2021 2:31 pm
    Thanks Paul, this is great! Ben
    michael shibel
    December 10, 2021 5:45 pm
    Hello Paul, do you have any information on how SFDC licenses unattended BOTS created using 3rd party tools? Thanks very much for the information!
    Matthew
    January 28, 2022 1:24 am
    Good article, but I don't think this statement is accurate: "[platform licenses] do not include individual or mass emailing, though email via automation still works". According to this page, platform licenses do include the ability to send email: https://help.salesforce.com/s/articleView?id=sf.users_license_types_communities_lightning_platform_details.htm&type=5 And we just tested in an org, and were able to send an email via the Activity sidebar while logged in as platform user.
    Amy
    February 04, 2022 9:41 pm
    Super useful! Could you elaborate at all on how the 10 Custom Objects for the Platform Starter license works? In terms of profiles, from what I have seen "Starter" and "Plus" are not distinguished for the user license; there is only "Salesforce Platform". If I had a custom Salesforce Platform profile with CRU permission on more than 10 custom objects, does Salesforce have a mechanism to stop me from assigning a user with a Platform Starter license to that profile? If not, what would happen to my users functionality and access if I assigned them to that custom profile?
    Paul Ginsberg
    February 19, 2022 10:14 am
    I think you're right! I just checked and this functionality is now definitely in place. When I wrote the article it wasn't - whether that was due to a misconfiguration on my part or whether there's been an improvement since then I'm not too sure. But that's why it's always good to test as articles are only (at best) correct at time of publication. I'll get the article updated and thank you so much for bringing this to my attention!
    Paul Ginsberg
    February 19, 2022 10:33 am
    I agree “Starter” and “Plus” licenses do not appear to be not distinguished for the user license within Salesforce, which is a bit mad. Your Salesforce Account Executive and contract are your best sources of truth to get to the bottom of what your organisation actually has. It can be very frustrating, especially around license renewal time! If you go over your limits generally your Account Executive gets in touch to have a word; they certainly review it at contract renewal time. It depends on what you are doing I guess. Some limits are definitely more flexible than others (e.g. for the Community Login license, there is some slack in case of unexpected logins). I try and avoid being in these situations as Salesforce would be entitled to turn off access or even - ultimately - choose not to renew your contract... the contract signing is a two-way process.
    Hugo
    April 20, 2022 4:08 pm
    I can´t use cases Cases using Salesforce Plataform licence
    Paul Ginsberg
    April 28, 2022 10:48 am
    Internal employees can use cases for internal queries, for that's it. Nothing external.
    Vikrant V
    August 12, 2022 10:56 am
    As salesforce shows only the "salesforce Platform" license option when we are creating users. How i can assign ''salesforce platform starter" and "salesforce Platform Plus" licenses as per need? I have both licenses.
    sandeep
    December 26, 2022 6:17 pm
    Thanks for the brief Article on platform licenses Can you please clarify on data storage, I noticed only "20 MB data storage for per user allowances" for starter and started plus. Thanks in advance.
    steven wilson
    March 10, 2023 12:09 pm
    You can allocate custom objects to a Salesforce Platform license by creating a permission set.
    Peter
    March 28, 2023 4:02 am
    Hi Paul, just clarifying the diagram you have above where you have an asterisk (All licenses, Enterprise and above), that means all licenses have those features included? Does having Service Cloud licenses automatically mean you have Sales Cloud licenses and vice versa or are they 2 separate things?
    Mudassir Ali
    March 31, 2023 9:50 pm
    I believe basic email integration is part of Platform Licenses as well. You can integrate Gmail and Outlook with Salesforce with Platform Licenses.
    Esther
    March 01, 2024 12:52 am
    If you have a Platform license you are not able to have the System Admin profile and privileges, is that correct?
    Kurt
    March 15, 2024 10:30 pm
    I understand that with the Platform license that you have access to Reports, but not to standard CRM objects like Opportunities. However, what if you have a report on open opportunities? Would a user with the Platform license be able to access this report and see all of the opportunities on the report when they run it? Would they also be able to subscribe to it? Appreciate any thoughts on this!

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