In a recent AgilePoint webinar, Forrester’s John R. Rymer detailed the challenges organizations face when scaling Salesforce from a simple CRM instance to a sprawling customer platform. According to Rymer, upon initial deployment, Salesforce CRM is generally loved by users. Salesforce has a modern interface, is highly customizable for the group it is intended to serve, and delivers a pronounced improvement on old methodologies for most organizations.
So impressive, in fact, is Salesforce in its initial deployment, that customer-focused groups outside of Sales often want access. Rymer’s presentation in the webinar was the initial release of research that was later published in a Forrester Research report (“Five Ways To Cut The Risk Of Going All In With A Salesforce Customer Platform”—subscription required). In this report, Rymer, et al, refer to this everyone-wants-in phenomenon:
. . . business leaders want to expand initial wins with Salesforce CRM into customer and/or partner engagement, marketing automation, analytics, and more. New custom applications and customizations mushroom.
The Dilemma of Scaling Salesforce
It’s in this rapid-expansion stage where the wheels tend to come off. The same report details an account of a government agency that encountered this exact scaling problem. After initial success with Salesforce,
The agency quickly added about 12,000 Salesforce seats in seven separate “Orgs” (accounts), lots of customizations, and many custom applications. As this expansion progressed, innovation on the agency’s core Salesforce apps slowed to a crawl, and operating costs rose. Updates and changes to enterprise processes and existing apps were now sluggish, although the agency still could quickly stand up isolated new applications. “When you start adding custom code [to Salesforce], you need developers to make changes,” says the agency’s CoE leader. “And Salesforce becomes way more expensive to maintain.”
According to the report, “Complexity of scale crushes Salesforce’s responsiveness,” meaning innovation slows to a crawl and what was once flexible is now rigid. How so? According to Forrester’s team of researchers,
Every app change risks breaking one of hundreds of data and process customizations, integration links, and third-party add-ons. The result: Every change requires long and expensive impact-analysis and regression testing projects — killing the responsiveness that made Salesforce attractive at the start.
Forrester’s Proposed Solution to the “Scaling Salesforce” Dilemma
Among Forrester’s recommendations for scaling Salesforce is to architect a customer platform at the outset, rather than just customize a CRM application for the Sales team. Other recommendations include establishing a Center of Excellence (CoE) and taking a layered technology approach, so as to not encumber the core CRM with unnecessary code and content.
Third-Party Low-Code Platforms for App and Workflow Development
In both the webinar and in the report, Rymer is quick to point out the role that third-party low-code platforms play in architectng an enterprise-class customer platform. Aside from the fact that Forrester, contends that custom apps and workflows should reside on their own technology layer, Salesforce’s own portfolio of declarative application development tools aren’t designed with sophisticated process automation in mind. Salesforce’s mainstream technology, Force.com, is a leading low-code platform in its own right, but may not be the best choice for creating apps that must span multiple line-of-business systems; custom, on-premises applications; and disparate environments.
Building Self-Adaptive Salesforce Apps with AgilePoint NX
As was pointed out above, one of the biggest challenges when scaling Salesforce into a customer platform is hundreds—even thousands—of custom apps and the deep interdependencies that exist between these apps and the various technologies they interact with—changing one little thing could result in weeks of regression testing to ensure that everything still works.
AgilePoint NX, a leading low-code platform, has a unique architecture that solves much of this problem. Built on a stateless process engine and utilizing a true, model-driven architecture that abstracts model components into underlying code, AgilePoint NX apps can actually self-adapt on the fly to evolving enterprise conditions.
Furthermore, AgilePoint’s Salesforce App (available on AppExchange) provides game-changing capability within the Salesforce ecosystem. In essence, AgilePoint NX forms, dashboards, and Work Center can run as native code within Salesforce. Not only does this approach improve performance and increase security, it completely eliminates the need for IFrames. Likewise, AgilePoint NX eliminates the need for API calls, typically required as third-party technologies in your customer platform need to continually poll Salesforce for updates.
To learn more, watch the webinar linked above, or just drop us a line. We’d love to demonstrate how AgilePoint can dramatically improve your efforts to scale Salesforce CRM into a powerful, customer platform.