Being the large and complicated platform that Salesforce is, developers and administrators need to tailor specific aspects of the CRM platform’s user interface to suit the needs of their clients. This may include making modifications in the existing Salesforce org or programming the platform in a particular way right from the get-go.
In simpler words, making any changes pertaining to the development and operation of Salesforce involve two major processes – configuration and customization.
In this blog, we will understand the basics of Salesforce customization and understand how it is different from the configuration in Salesforce.
What Is Salesforce Customization?
Salesforce customization involves custom development and coding for adding specific tools and features to the platform. It does not focus on the existing interface of the platform. Instead, it stresses expanding its overall functionality and leveraging the platform to attain additional benefits.
The process of customization is often carried out to allow the users to carry out actions that the platform does not already allow them to perform. Whether it is integrating Salesforce with a third party application, using Apex classes and triggers, creating Visualforce emails, developing Visualforce pages, or using CSS for altering page layouts, customizing Salesforce helps you in increasing the scalability of the CRM platform.
Why Does Salesforce Make Customizations Easy?
Salesforce has always been proud of the fact that the CRM platform was developed to be customized easily and effectively.
Some of the reasons that make Salesforce a highly customizable platform include:
Advanced And Intuitive User Interface
The user interface of Salesforce is highly intuitive in nature, making it easier for developers to work on it and customize it according to the needs of their clients. The advanced and automated UI allows developers to add new features to the CRM platform in an easy and scalable way.
Moreover, the simple and intuitive interface allows developers to integrate Salesforce and add the required features without the need for extensive coding.
Faster App Development
On Salesforce, you can develop an application for your organization in a few hours. The platform provides you with easy drag-and-drop tools for integrating data and developing apps to suit your business needs.
Although you cannot build a full-fledged sophisticated application in such a short span of time, developers can always set up specific actions and get the basic framework ready.
Wide Range Of Pre-built Applications
Salesforce has its own app marketplace called AppExchange which has several pre-built third-party applications suitable for almost all industries. You can readily integrate your Salesforce org with these platforms in an effective and hassle-free way to expand its functionality and provide a unified interface to your team.
What Is The Difference Between Salesforce Customization And Customization?
It is common for people who are not too familiar with Salesforce to get confused between the processes of customization and configuration in Salesforce. It is important to understand that these two terms cannot be used interchangeably.
While Salesforce customization is the process of adding new features to the platform through coding and integrating Salesforce with third-party applications, Salesforce configuration is the process of making changes within your existing Salesforce org.
Salesforce configuration does not involve adding any new functionality to the platform. It deals with activities like adding a new field within your system, creating a new object relationship, and processes that make use of a specific formula to achieve the desired outcome.
The scope of configuration in Salesforce never really leaves the platform. While Salesforce customization is carried out by a developer, a Salesforce administrator plays a major role in configuring the CRM platform.
Common examples of Salesforce configuration include altering fields, adding new fields, creating opportunities, making changes in workflows, creating reports, customizing user interface, changing page layouts, etc.
When to choose Salesforce configuration?
Here are some of the common scenarios when you should go ahead with Salesforce configuration:
1. If the concerned functionality can be achieved through configuration in Salesforce
2. If you want to leverage the in-built tools and modules to obtain the desired results
3. If your business processes are already compatible with the in-built Salesforce tools since the implementation
4. If a large number of users will be using the Salesforce platform For a longer time
5. If you are working on a limited budget and have less time in hand
When to choose Salesforce customization?
Here are some of the common scenarios when you should go ahead with Salesforce customization:
1. If third-party integration is required to obtain the required functionality and perform specific tasks
2. If you are in need of additional interactive reports and dashboards to carry out a specific analytics
3. If your team is finding it difficult to adapt to the configured platform
4. If you have sufficient budget and time to carry out the required processes and get the desired results
Steps Involved In Salesforce Customization
The entire process of Salesforce customization can be summarized in six distinct steps as discussed below:
1. Surveying the users
Always start by interacting with the end-users to determine their specific needs behind customizing Salesforce. A major objective of this process is to make Salesforce convenient and scalable for the end-users.
While you survey the users, focus on the challenges faced by them in using Salesforce on a regular basis, features and tools they have always wanted but are lacked by the system, and Salesforce features that have become redundant for them.
You can always add more questions according to your convenience to get an in-depth analysis of what the end-users are really looking for. Moreover, it is advisable to keep taking brief surveys throughout the customization process that allow you to tweak the process according to their needs and preferences.
2. Set up a customization team
Once you are well-versed with the needs of the end-users, you can go ahead with setting up a customization team that will execute the entire process.
Depending on the amount of time and resources you have at your disposal, you can go ahead with one of the following alternatives for setting up a customization team:
- Hiring certified consultants – If you do not have enough time for scaling up the platform and customizing Salesforce, you can resort to hiring certified Salesforce consultants that will help you in your work. This will provide you with expert assistance and get you in touch with experienced Salesforce experts, including developers, data architects, business analysts, and data scientists.
- Building an in-house team – If you have professional Salesforce experts within your team who can help you customize the platform without having to outsource the work, you can build a team of the best in-house professionals for the work.
- Collaborating your team with consultants – If your in-house team has little experience with Salesforce development, you can bring in a few Salesforce consultants and make them work with your team to customize Salesforce for your clients.
3. Prioritize features to work within your budget
As you take the survey of the end-users while starting with the customization process, you will have a variety of features that the users want to add to their Salesforce org.
However, not every feature really needs to be added to the system. Adding every single feature suggested by the users is not too feasible as it will stretch your budget to a great extent.
It is, therefore, important to prioritize the features that are absolutely necessary to be added to the Salesforce org through customization. Make sure that you stick to implementing the features that will provide maximum benefits to the end-users and generate maximum ROI.
4. Using Sandbox before customization
Before you go ahead with customizing Salesforce, it is advisable to use the right Sandbox for development. When you are customizing the platform and making changes to the core functionality, you might end up making errors that cannot be corrected and end up damaging the system.
A Sandbox helps you test the changes you want to make without affecting the main production environment. It is an identical copy of your production environment that can be used for understanding how different features and objects are linked to each other.
5. Starting with the development
Once you have your Sandboxes ready, you can start with the execution of Salesforce customization to add the pre-decided features to the Salesforce org.
Always make sure that you do not fall prey to “over-customization” which may result in poor adoption and higher costs instead of achieving the desired results.
6. Training the end-users
Once the development is completed, go ahead with sustainable user adoption by training the end-users to use the newly implemented Salesforce features. You can use different Sandboxes to train them without affecting the data within your main production environment.
The scope of Salesforce customization is vast. These were some of the basic details about the process and steps involved in carrying out the same. If you are willing to obtain more details about getting your CRM platform customized, it is advisable to take the help of a reliable Salesforce consultant.