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How To Choose The Right Salesforce Managed Services [And Greatly Increase Your Peace Of Mind]

How do you achieve Salesforce peace of mind? Seems simple enough:
  1. Assemble a “dream team” of experts that understand all aspects of Salesforce needs
  2. Apply best practices for development through governance, and
  3. Set the team loose on your Salesforce backlog
Unfortunately, the first step is often the hardest, and what stops most from even approaching the other two. The Salesforce ecosystem is ever expanding. No single person knows it all, and the skill set of an Architect is very different from that of an Administrator.

Every organization that implements Salesforce needs a team of people with different skills, which vary over the lifecycle of the implementation. Demand is also at an all-time high. Back in 2016 Salesforce forecasted that 3.3 million more Salesforce trained experts would be needed by 2022. From what we are seeing today, this was a low estimate.

How do you overcome these challenges?

No matter what the size of your organization, it is nearly impossible to find, hire and retain the dream team. It seems like as soon as you hire someone and they gain some experience, they are immediately recruited to work elsewhere. The average Salesforce professional only sits still for about 2 years. So, most organizations turn to Salesforce System Integrators (SI) to help them out. Every SI has answers to these challenges, and the most common answer is a Managed Services (MS) offering.

Almost all SIs offer Managed Services, but are these offerings all the same? The answer is an absolute no! Many SIs have taken advantage of the popularity of MS to rebrand many of their tired, old offerings as something new. Here is how to understand the differences so you can find the service that is right for you.

Traditional Services Disguised as Managed Services

Ticket-based Support: This offering, focused on providing support for existing Salesforce implementations has been around for a long time. Often the work is coordinated by a local part-time Engagement Manager and performed at an offshore location. The offshore team is usually supporting many clients on a round robin basis, so there is no guarantee the support analyst will know much of anything about your Salesforce solution. So each ticket results in wasted hours for the support analyst to first understand your solution. Regardless of onshore vs offshore, which is a topic in itself, we have rarely seen a Salesforce implementation that only needs support. Organizations need to constantly enhance their solution and this model is not oriented to that goal.

Staff Augmentation: This offering has also been recently relabeled as Managed Services. An SI offers between one half and one full-time resource to their clients. A single resource is not the dream team. This consultant, no matter how great they seem, can’t possibly know the full Salesforce ecosystem. You will be limited by this person’s experience and knowledge. Beyond that, you may need a strong project manager at one point, a strong architect later, then an Apex developer and later a QA/tester. Again, no person can be an expert in all these disciplines, no matter what the SI tells you.

Pre-packaged Solutions or Quick-starts: These are programmatic offerings with a set scope and deliverables. They are often offered at low cost to establish a relationship with a client and then expand them into a broader engagement. Again, this is in no way build a dream team.

managed services comparison

 

There is a better way.

The real answer to the challenge is to assemble a group of consultants and employees to form a dream team that is not static, but able to change as the needs of the current backlog items dictate. This form of Managed Services is what EightCloud pioneered for Salesforce over ten years ago and has refined into a true science. What’s the composition of this dream team?

Client resources

Product Owner – With a title borrowed from the Agile methodology, this person is the influential leader of the dream team. Ownership here means prioritization of the backlog and coordination of all the stakeholders.

Functional Experts – Each functional area of the Salesforce solution needs a go-to expert that others can call upon for help and who knows every detail of the solution. These experts are essential to the success of the Product Owner in the definition of the backlog and prioritization process.

Salesforce Admin – We strongly believe every organization should have at least one junior to intermediate Salesforce Admin to perform simple Salesforce administration functions provide support and training to the end users.

SI Resources

Client Engagement Manager – This is the team leader for the SI team. The key role for this individual is to ensure the right Salesforce resources are available to the client exactly when needed. The secondary role is to ensure the solution is fully documented and that each team member fully understands the solution before doing any client work. Rarely is this a full-time role.

Technical Architect – The most senior technical resource on the SI team is responsible for the overall technical architecture and approach to the solution. This role is the guardian of doing things the right way, and arbiter of conflicting technical views. This is also rarely a full-time role.

Salesforce Experts – These are the experts in some aspect of the Salesforce ecosystem. They could be a specific cloud expert or an expert in some aspect of the development / delivery process such as a project manager or QA resource. The number and weekly percentage of time required for these experts will vary greatly as the Salesforce solution matures and grows. So, in some cases a full-time expert or experts are needed for some period and in other cases only a part-time resource is needed.

Most SIs do not utilize this model because it is difficult to implement. A Rubik’s Cube of resource swapping must occur with allocations of as little as 1/8 of a person. It is much easier to Sis to utilize a Staff Augmentation type model.

The advantages of this approach are plentiful:

  • With clearly defined roles split between the client and SI, governance is simplified and the client never becomes indentured to the SI.
  • The SI only provides the resources needed, when they are needed. This minimizes the cost to the client and ensure the right experts are available when needed.
  • Agility is significantly improved as the right experts can build much faster than those learning on the job.

If you are considering a Managed Services approach, ask the SI what type of Managed Services they are really providing. Ask them the minimum resource level they will allocate to your team. Ask them what Managed Services means to them.

The bottom line is that peace of mind can be achieved when you choose the right Salesforce Managed Services partner, but you need to be sure you’re comparing apples to apples. EightCloud has been advising on and delivering all the benefits of the flexible dream team approach for more than a decade and we are one of fifteen partners worldwide that Salesforce has certified as a provider of Managed Services. We have refined the process to take out the guesswork and make your job easier.  

 

EightCloud proved to be a resilient partner. To say we were difficult to work with at times would be an understatement. Some of the business challenges we faced during the integration seemed at times insurmountable. EightCloud stayed engaged and worked with us as a true partner to find ways around roadblocks even when they were purely internal and out of their control. Integrating Salesforce with an existing ERP system is no small feat and they were able to get us there. I would recommend EightCloud as a partner without a second thought.”

– Justin Larson, Abatement Technologies

 

Author: Darryl Lemecha, CoFounder and Managing Partner

EightCloud was instrumental in showing us all that Salesforce could help us achieve while also training our staff to make changes to Salesforce on our own in the future. They helped us achieve important strategic initiatives, stayed on their initial budget and were more than a pleasure to work with. We look forward to working with them more in the future!"

- Anna Summerlin, Gleneagles Group

Let us craft a custom solution that will meet your current and future Salesforce needs and make your life easier.

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