Salesforce App

My Company Needs a Salesforce App: Do I Build or Buy?

Dear Admin,

I’m pretty new to my role as a Solo Admin. The company has big idea for upping its adoption of Salesforce, which is great! The thing is, a lot of what we need isn’t standard, OOTB (out-of-the-box) functionality. I know about the AppExchange, and that there’s likely a Salesforce App, or combination of a few, that gets close to what we need. For due diligence, what all should be considered when making the buy versus build decision? I’m sure it’s more than just upfront costs!

Please Help Me Make the Right Call

Dear Make the Right Call,

First things first – welcome to the Salesforce Community! You are already moving in the right direction to not only help your company become more efficient, but also help expand your knowledge and potential future career opportunities by harnessing the power of Salesforce. You’ve got a distinct advantage over those who came before you because the availability of solution options, on and off the AppExchange increases daily. And yet, the one constant issue Admins face when it comes to Salesforce Apps or customization, is the buy vs. build decision. I’ve got a few thoughts to share that should help you make the right call!

Salesforce App

Up Front Costs

First ask yourself one question, and answer it as if you were under oath at a Congressional Hearing: Does your company have the human capital, a.k.a., people & skills, to thoroughly design, test and implement a solution not only in a timely manner, but also with the necessary skills to meet all the customization needs of your company? If your answer as “yes”, then consider the following recent conversation I had with Salesforce MVP, Jocelyn Fennewald.

Neighborhood Admin: Build versus Buy – why or why not?
Jocelyn: This is a tricky one. There are many times where building your own app or automation is the best practice. Simple builds such as custom objects, are the backbone of using a great product such as Salesforce.

Neighborhood Admin: So true, but what about more complex projects?
Jocelyn: Using developers is a huge benefit when wanting to take your org to the next level. The caution is always that if you choose to build, ensure that this process/app/code is tested with each new release from Salesforce and against any other applications in your company. While it is not common, code can bump up against new features and cause some headaches.

Neighborhood Admin: So what’s the bottom line?
Jocelyn: The upfront cost component is just one part of the decision process of build versus buy. It tends to be larger than application license fees for a buy decision. Of course this depends largely on the project size. The bonus to building a solution is that once you build it and pay the upfront costs, you are done and there are no ongoing fees. But don’t make the decision based solely on upfront costs.


Ongoing Costs

Typically, the biggest component of ongoing costs is the licensing fees, which really applies to the buy and not the build option. The upside to this is that included with that usually comes support, upgrades, and ongoing maintenance. For many organizations, simply knowing they have someone to call should there be an issue, is peace-of-mind and worth the price. Jocelyn says, “For our clients, we find the best of breed partners and make recommendations based on the App that best fits our clients goals.”

On the build side, you will have internal ongoing costs for any additional enhancements or improvements you choose to push forward, in addition to testing around Salesforce releases, to insure nothing breaks we new features are released from Salesforce.

Build versus Buy

Ultimately, the build versus buy decision is yours and your company’s to make. Hopefully, you now have a better understanding of some important items you need to consider and the potential implications of your decision-making process, regardless of which direction you ultimately head.

Good luck!

Your Friendly Neighborhood Admin

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