October 5, 2021

Chad Stewart | VP, Global SaaS Support Services 

As the owner of your Salesforce platform, the most important question you likely need to answer is: “How do I plan for the ongoing innovation needs of my company?” Salesforce’s continuous expansion through its frequent acquisitions and seasonal release cycle means that companies like yours have a lot to consider.  

And Salesforce charges you a premium for all these new tools, features, and options. If you do not keep up with the pace of improvements that Salesforce offers, you will lose out on your ROI.  

Even if you have a competent internal support team, Salesforce’s burgeoning portfolio means you will likely need expertise that is beyond the capabilities of your staff.  

So, back to the question, how do you plan for ongoing innovation? In this blog post, I review the different Salesforce support options available in today’s marketplace so that you can make the right choice for your organization. 

Salesforce Service Void

For those of you who follow this series, you know all about the Salesforce service void. In summary, the “service void” is the massive black hole of unmet support needs you’ll encounter along your Salesforce journey. 

Life is not good in the void. You’ll likely endure poor processes, knowledge gaps, resource constraints, and adoption lags in your Salesforce environment. The service void prohibits many companies from meaningfully advancing their instance of Salesforce. 

To avoid the void, you must calibrate development at the pace that is right for your company. And to do this, you’ll likely need some extra hands on deck. 

Evaluating Salesforce Support Options

Hiring more internal staff is always a great choice. But let’s be honest, hiring Salesforce talent is difficult when professionals are in high demand and expensive. So, let’s examine your other support options. You have four choices in today’s market: 

  1. Salesforce Support – This option comes standard with your Salesforce licensing. Salesforce also provides two (very expensive) support upgrades called Signature and Premier. This basic level of support provides Q&A and advice on how to use the product, with varying degrees of engagement. However, with this level of support, you must make the changes yourself – and hope you do it correctly. 
  2. Traditional Managed Services – This type of support provides you with access to third-party resources that will help you with break/fix issues and simple improvements. Traditional managed services is a lower-cost, pay-by-the-hour support option suited best for the maintenance of a basic Salesforce environment. This is a reactive service model, meaning you must reach out to the contractor when you need help. 
  3. Implementation Providers and Consultants – This category of support is contract-based and intended for large, one-off projects. If you need to implement a new cloud, you will want to work with specialists who have the experience with change management and the resources (i.e., developers and architects) to quickly install a new platform. The downside to this option is that once they complete the project, those resources are no longer available to you when something breaks. The support burden falls to your team. 
  4. Agile Delivery Framework Experts – This is the newest trend in Salesforce managed services. The Agile delivery framework option offers a blend of what you would get from traditional managed services (#2) and implementation providers (#3).  This approach uses a team of experts to augment your internal capabilities through a shared-resources model. The advantage here is that the same team continually works with you long term to achieve your Salesforce goals on a consistent basis. 

Here’s another way to view these support options: 

The x-axis indicates the level of “hands on keyboards” support that you get with a particular service option. The y-axis is the time duration of the engagement with the service provider. The upper-right quadrantwhat we call the “Continuous Innovation Zone,” will keep you out of the service void. (For a video explanation of this quadrant, check out this post.) 

Key Questions to Help You Assess Your Salesforce Support Needs

To find the right level of support for your organization, ask yourself these important questions: 

For Basic Support: 

  • Is your company failing to regularly improve its Salesforce environment? 
  • Is your in-house Salesforce support team under-staffed or under-skilled? 
  • Do you have a backlog of fixes and requests that never seem to get done? 

For Intermediate Support:

  • Do you have ROI and/or adoption concerns? 
  • Do you have data quality and reporting problems? 
  • Is your Salesforce environment full of outdated workflows and unused fields? 
  • Do you lack the Customer 360 visibility you need to quickly understand your business?

For Advanced Support: 

  • Do you lack a Salesforce roadmap? 
  • Do you plan on launching new clouds in the next 1-3 years?  
  • Do you plan to integrate systems (e.g. ERP -> SFDC) in the next 1-3 years? 
  • Are you bringing on any new business units to your Salesforce instance? 

How many times did you say “YES”? If you answered yes to more than two of the above questions, it’s time for you to seek out additional help. Depending on what you said yes to will also influence the type of support you need. 

Key to Success: Finding the Right Support Blend for Your Company

If there’s one thing I’ve learned over my past decade in Salesforce consulting and services, it is that companies often underestimate the amount of support they will need to make the most of their Salesforce investment.  

To have great success with Salesforce, you must figure out the best way to continually configure and deploy new features and updates. That’s the secret. Companies that try to do Salesforce “on the cheap” will be very disappointed with their results. 

I encourage you to objectively map your in-house resources to the goals in your multi-year Salesforce roadmap. Then, rank the importance of your Salesforce wants and needs. This will help you to align with the various support and staffing options that will help you achieve your goals – and to budget accordingly. 

If you would like to understand more about how continuous change experts can deliver you an amazing Salesforce experience, cost effectively, please contact us today! 

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