The Difference Between Salesforce Developers, Consultants & Administrators
Salesforce is a complex platform that requires a lot of experts to maximize its business growth benefits -- including developers, consultants & administrators. Although all three of these roles have overlap and work together to integrate Salesforce into a business model and daily operations seamlessly, their core functions are quite different.
Both Salesforce consultants and administrators work directly with clients. They take the time to ensure they have all of the functionality a business needs and work with them directly to customize the platform to their specifications. However, consultants are typically contracted for a certain period of time, while administrators are a more permanent fixture.
Unsurprisingly, Salesforce developers develop the actual product and integrate it into a business’s existing digital infrastructure. Much of this development includes building the functionalities. This often consists of writing apex code and creating Salesforce Triggers, which helps to complete actions within Salesforce. Developers can also attain a special license that gives them platform freedom. This ultimately helps businesses customize Salesforce even further.
Developers also test the product before it goes live to ensure it works well. Many times, Salesforce developers test new functions and features in a “sandbox.” This is essentially a fake environment where they can test their creations safely without compromising existing workflows or real-life user experience.
Typically, Salesforce administrators take the lead in training and onboarding necessary employees to Salesforce -- although a consultant could handle this task as well. Salesforce administrators will work with department heads to determine which employees need which degree of access to the platform, then create new user profiles.
Administrators will then hold one-on-one sessions or onboarding tutorials to teach employees how to use the platform, how to access the backend, demonstrate functionalities, and showcase front-end features. They also maintain written documentation of general uses, best practices, and tips to use Salesforce with an ease that can be distributed to employees as needed.
In addition to building the product, Salesforce developers also deploy the new features and integrate Salesforce into existing procedures. Developers also facilitate any of the extensive APIs, which streamlines workflows, condenses information, and ultimately makes businesses more productive.
Salesforce developers are responsible for documenting the development and deployment process. This ensures that, should anything go wrong with the platform down the road, a team of experts can backtrack and potentially find the root cause.
Overall, Salesforce consultants and/or administrators are responsible for the overall maintenance of the program. These experts will monitor daily functions, assist other employees with using the platform and can even initiate small changes to Salesforce autonomously.
Should any large changes or updates be necessary, a consultant or administrator will involve Salesforce developers to determine a solution. Once big implementations are deployed by developers, the administrators and consultants will resume monitoring and ensure Salesforce works as-needed.
Salesforce Developers’ Top Tasks
Test & Deploy
Great Salesforce development companies are continually testing projects before they are taken live. By doing so, they minimize the chance that current employees or consumers will experience an issue or bug within the system. Therefore, most Salesforce developers create new features in what is called a sandbox -- this is ultimately a faux-environment that mimics real-life deployment and enables them to fully test functions before they go live.
After developers test new features and determine they are ready for public consumption, they deploy them to the public. This process requires plenty of coordination to avoid any issues and relies on retroactive admin feedback so developers can solve any immediate issues following deployment.
Determine Business Needs
First and foremost, the Salesforce developers take the time to understand a brand’s goals, objectives, successes and weaknesses. By having a full understanding of how a business is performing and how it would like to grow, developers can better formulate a strategy and suggest features that may help.
Determining these needs and creating a plan of action is often the direct result of collaboration between department heads and executives at a business. These employees will have direct insight into achievable objectives, and reliable developers will work with them to customize the platform.
Unsurprisingly, Salesforce developers must actually develop the platform. This development includes the customization functionalities that they determined in the collaboration phases. To maximize great user experience, great Salesforce developers often try to utilize point-and-click capabilities.
Salesforce developers may be contacted again after an initial project to develop addition complicated business solutions or add new features to an existing platform. It is imperative the businesses enlist the help of reputable Salesforce development companies because most projects incorporate unique customizations tailored to a client.
In addition to building a customized Salesforce platform and deploying it effectively, top developers also integrate the new program with a business’s existing systems. This integration usually requires an Application Programming Interface or API for short.
APIs essentially connect different servers and can link CRMs with email marketing clients, streamline workflows that typically need many programs, and more. However, APIs can be very complicated to build and implement, and many businesses simply don’t have the manpower or expertise to execute one successfully. This need for great API integrations and lack of internal developers makes Salesforce experts extremely helpful to brands.
Salesforce platforms will need minor maintenance, regular updates and small edits to keep the system running smoothly and effectively -- and many Salesforce developers take over this task once the bulk of a project is complete. But depending on the type of company, your platform may require a Salesforce consultant or administrator to onboard employees and work with clients, too.
If you enlist a full-time Salesforce expert following your deployment and integration, you likely won’t need a full-time developer, as Salesforce administrators can manage small changes or system updates. However, should a large issue arise or you determine your brand needs new functionalities, you’ll need to work with a Salesforce developer once again.
Top Business-Building Uses Of Salesforce
Through the use of Salesforce’s ever-popular customer relations management (CRM) system, businesses are able to communicate with consumers and clients easily. Employees can collect user data online, track contact lists, makes notes about interactions with clients, and even manage customer service requests.
In addition to tracking data, special notes and contact information, CRM databases can also integrate with other systems through an API, which essentially connects two different platforms. This improves overall productivity by quickly aligning information and ensuring it is easily accessible.
Salesforce also has a digital e-commerce platform that businesses can choose to use. This program will enable businesses to conduct seasonal sales, incorporate AI features online, conduct A/B tests on their website, and launch campaigns. In addition, the commerce platform can help businesses maximize reach and conversions on all platforms -- desktop, mobile devices, social media networks and beyond.
What’s better? Global e-commerce sales are expected to reach $4.5 trillion by the year 2021. This proves that business-to-consumer focused companies investing in e-commerce platforms and conversions are following the trends that will lead them right to higher revenue.
Although it might not seem like it, investing in a safe and secure platform, such as Salesforce, in the beginning can save a company thousands of dollars (if not more) down the road. Salesforce has a secure platform and cybersecurity process already in place for clients. In addition to protecting sensitive information, a safe platform will also save businesses from shelling out for image rehabilitation and positive PR that is too often necessary for breached companies.
Think of it like renter’s insurance. Although it’s unlikely that someone will break into your apartment or an unfortunately building malfunction will ruin your possessions, but it’s not impossible. By paying a small fee each month, you are protecting the costs that you could incur later should disaster strike.
Salesforce is a cloud-based platform that empowers businesses to be more organized, work more effectively, and ultimately be more productive by streamlining information and workflows. However, perhaps Salesforce’s best business-building feature is the simple fact that it is cloud-based.
Cloud-based platforms allow approved users to access information anywhere, so long as they have secure Internet access. This ensures that everyone from big companies with several sprawling, global offices to smaller startups with remote employees can collaborate as easily as they would if they were in the same location. Considering more people than ever are working remotely at least part-time, cloud-based platforms like Salesforce are imperative to growth.
All in all, by using Salesforce, many businesses can save quite a bit of money. Because Salesforce is a comprehensive cloud-based platform, businesses no longer need to pay for robust software and servers on-site, or the personnel to maintain them. In addition, Salesforce is scalable, meaning it can grow (or downsize) with companies, ensuring they aren’t paying for more than they need.
Because of this, businesses can reallocate the money they can save by using Salesforce programs to other business ventures. These can be directly business related, such as expansions, developing new products, or investing in marketing campaigns, or company-culture focused, such as higher salaries and better benefits that attract top talent.
Questions To Ask The Top Salesforce Developers
The best Salesforce development companies will have experience building, testing and deploying software. In addition, they are capable of customizing the software to fit a business’s exact needs. Ask the questions below to better understand an agency’s experience solving similar business problems and implementing specific customizations, as well as the expertise your team members have finding growth solutions.
- Who will be working on our project?
- What role will they have and what is their experience?
- How will you determine the customizations and functionalities our brand needs?
- Are you familiar with building and implementing the features we need?
Many Salesforce development projects -- especially complicated, robust initiatives -- will need additional support before and after the actual project. In addition, you’ll want to partner with a great development company who can collaborate with your brand and continuously ensure you have the latest updates. Be sure to ask each potential Salesforce developer how much assistance you can expect.
- How will you collaborate with our company prior to building the software to ensure we get the product we need to succeed?
- How will you determine a project timeline and ensure deadlines are met?
- Who will our point of contact be?
- Do we need an in-house Salesforce administrator of consultant?
- If so, will you provide one?
- Who will manage routine maintenance and updates after the software is live?
All digital platforms are at some risk for hackers, malware, viruses, data breaches and other cybersecurity issues. However, the best Salesforce developers have access to the best resource to protect your information. Plus, they have a strict protocol in place to secure your system, reverse security breaches and protect data in the event of a security compromise.
- How do you plan to protect our data?
- Which programs do you use?
- Which of our data is more secure and/or most vulnerable and why?
- How quickly can you identify security breaches?
- What is the process for solving security breaches?
- Who is responsible for a compromise in data security?
Be sure you ask top Salesforce developers about their prior projects. The type of functionalities that they have successfully built and deployed for other clients will speak volumes about their true abilities. Even better, inquire as to whether or not they have repeat clients and if any of them would be willing to give you a testimonial review.
- Tell us about your past successful projects. What do you think made them so effective?
- Share the story of a failed Salesforce development project. Why did it go awry and what did you learn?
- What similar business solutions have you solved through Salesforce development?
- Who are your clients?
- Are any of them repeat or regular clients?
- Would any prior clients be willing to speak to us directly about their experience working with you?
Each Salesforce development company likely prices their services and support differently. However, many businesses fail to truly vet the line item breakdown of the customizations they are receiving. Be sure to ask any potential agencies exactly what each feature and functionality is costing you, then compare them to one another to ensure you are getting the best value.
- How much of your services cost?
- Do you charge by the hour, flat rate, by feature, or per project?
- How often will we be billed?
- Will additional support following the project, such as an administrator or routine maintenance, cost extra?
- Will we need to pay for any additional programs, software, etc.?
How To Choose The Best Salesforce Development Company
As with all digital programs, Salesforce programs will need periodic maintenance and updates. Although most of these are fairly simple, brands should determine who is responsible for this maintenance and what the process entails.
Ask potential Salesforce developer companies how they identify issues, the process for fixing them, if the actual developers are involved in maintenance, how they secure your data within Salesforce, how often updates will be issued, and, finally, if any of this maintenance assistance or updates will cost your brand extra.
Not every Salesforce implementation is the same -- in fact, most are vastly different! There are over 200 Salesforce record types, numerous APIs, and dozens of business functions that Salesforce can fulfill. It is imperative that you find a developer who has experience integrating the features you need.
In addition, think ahead to future business growth. Do you anticipate expanding your company into a new market? Are you rolling out a new service soon? Assess what platforms or programs you will need to be successful in those new ventures. If Salesforce could be helpful in achieving those goals, find a development company that can fulfill all of your requirements at once, which can streamline your support and updates down the road.
The best Salesforce development companies have access to the top experts in the digital space. These professionals have many years of experience and successful implementations under their belt, ensuring that they are well-equipped to work directly with your brand and secure the features you need to succeed.
Search for a Salesforce developer who is familiar with your existing programs, the platforms that necessitate APIs, and have solved similar business growth problems in the past. Don’t be afraid to ask for specific results or request a new team member to ensure you are confident in your Salesforce development team.
In addition to needing top Salesforce developers to build and deploy your new platform, you may need a secondary team of Salesforce experts -- such as a consultant, administrator, designer, or account manager -- to ensure your programs are working to standard. Luckily, the best Salesforce companies often offer this additional support.
Inquire how a Salesforce development company plans to train existing employees on the platform, if they advise placing a support expert in your office, or who you can contact should you discover a bug or security issue with your platform.
Once you have determined who will be working on your project and how it will be executed, ensure you understand your commitment to both Salesforce AND the developers as a client -- especially before you sign a contract. You may realize that a Salesforce developer overpromised on their deliverables, but if you’re locked into a contract, switching to a more reliable expert is difficult at best.
Plus, determine how much this project will cost you, both immediately and long-term. If a company is providing you with an administrator or contract employee, you likely will incur additional costs down the road. Detail exactly what you’re getting for your money, then document in a contract that will protect your brand and the Salesforce developer you choose.