Build Apps on Salesforce – Not from Scratch

Build Salesforce AppWe’ve talked before about the value of buying versus building software (see Buy Software, Don’t Build It), but what should you do when you really need to build a custom solution?  We recommend building your solution on the Salesforce platform.  When we talk to clients and prospects about this option, they are caught completely off guard as it is something they didn’t know was possible.  As we start talking about the options and benefits, they are blown away by what they discover.  So, why would you want to build your solution on the Salesforce platform versus building something from scratch?  Here are a few of the main benefits:

  • Decreased Time to Market – You can deploy a viable solution to the market within days versus months.  The Salesforce platform is ideal for agile, iterative implementations.  You can get something up and running (that’s usable and professional) very quickly.  This allows you to learn and adapt quickly instead of guessing what the market wants/needs upfront.
  • No Infrastructure to Build and Support – With Salesforce, you get a secure, scalable system on day 1 that you don’t have to support or maintain.  You don’t have to worry about web servers and IT personnel.  You can focus exclusively on building the right solution.  Likewise, you greatly reduce your security and compliance risks as Salesforce is one of the most secure, scalable systems in the world (see Salesforce Trust).
  • Reduced TCO (Total Cost of Ownership) – We often underestimate the total costs to build, maintain, and support software applications.  While the cost to build your solution from scratch may appear cheaper over the long-term, realize that software always takes longer to build than planned which increases the costs.  Also, you will have to maintain and support the software while paying for hosting.  Finally, technology changes very fast.  As soon as your product is complete, it’s out of date.  It’s common to re-write applications every 3 to 4 years as the previous version becomes too unwieldy to update and maintain (most software takes about a year to build so you’re looking at a useful life of 2 to 3 years if you are lucky before it’s time to make a major upgrade).  With Salesforce, you’ll pay monthly license fees for as long as you use the platform.  You need to get comfortable with those costs.  However, they’ll end up being much cheaper when you factor in the costs of building from scratch, maintaining the software, and the opportunity costs (do you really need to be spending your time and resources building and maintaining software?).
  • Increased Flexibility – With Salesforce, you have options.  You can build on top of the platform, leverage apps from the AppExchange, implement workarounds, etc.  You can do this without spending a lot of time and money with expensive developers.  Instead, you can focus on the solution and getting it to market.  You have the ability to prototype options quickly and use the system immediately to make sure it’s going to work before making a large investment in an approach.  Finally, the Salesforce ecosystem is huge.  You’ll never have trouble finding resources to help you when you need it.
  • Get All the Features You Want with Minimal Software Development – You can do all you want to do on the platform.  The platform is powerful and scalable.  This means that you can build solutions quickly and can be trained on how to support them yourself.  You get a lot of tools out of the box that you don’t have to worry about building.  You start with a huge advantage, but you aren’t limiting yourself as you scale.  You get the benefits of both worlds – a powerful platform that you can customize and scale easily and quickly without limiting your ability to add the features you want. As with any solution, there are always pros and cons.  There is no perfect solution and you should stop trying to build or buy one.  Instead, focus your time and energy on delivering solutions that generate revenue and serve your clients well.