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Aug
26
2015

How to Find the Right Expert to Build Your Salesforce App

posted on August 26th, 2015by Andrew Lawlor

How to Find the Right Expert to Build Your Salesforce App

The Salesforce.com platform offers an incredibly dynamic canvas on which independent software vendors (ISVs) can develop apps that solve virtually every business challenge. But when it comes to developing the most sophisticated solutions, many ISVs lack the required expertise on the Salesforce platform.

Enter Salesforce’s Product Development Partnership program, through which the company certifies professionals with high-end technical expertise on the Salesforce platform. These Product Development Partners (PDOs) can work directly with companies building custom apps for their own businesses, or with ISVs looking to develop new or improved apps for the Salesforce AppExchange.

Becoming a PDO requires a formal certification process followed by continuous activities to maintain credentials. That’s why, at the time of this writing, certified PDOs number only 16 domestically and 30 globally. The PDO certification assures businesses that PDOs’ technical proficiency and quality of work have been verified by Salesforce.

Yet differences exist even among the PDOs themselves, which is why you want to interview several if your project requires the kind of high-level expertise in the Salesforce platform that PDOs possess. Here are some questions to ask when vetting potential Salesforce PDO partners:

  1. What is the current status of your certification? The certification process is intended to distinguish PDOs as specialist partners with proven expertise in one or several aspects of the Salesforce platform, from development and implementation to deployment and marketing. There is no official public directory of formally certified PDOs, but you can find certified partners by visiting Salesforce’s Partner Community website. Also, look for Salesforce-certified logos on the vendor’s marketing materials and website.
    Salesforce PDO
  1. How much experience do you have on the Salesforce platform? More experience generally translates into greater technical knowledge and process efficiencies, as well as the ability to work in accordance with best practices. Because Salesforce actively monitors PDOs’ performance in order to protect its brand and the credibility of the certification, longevity tends to equate with a vendor’s proven performance and quality work.
  2. Do you have the right kind of Salesforce experience and expertise for your project? Generally speaking, there are two types of Salesforce technical specialist partners. The first is system integrators, who specialize in deploying a single app to hundreds or thousands of users in the same environment. In contrast, developer PDOs specialize in building apps that can be deployed in hundreds or thousands of unique Salesforce environments, each with different characteristics. It’s important to understand the different kinds of experience that a PDO prospect has.
  3. How many apps have you developed that are currently hosted and available on Salesforce’s AppExchange? As with years of experience, the number of apps currently available indicates proficiency and a history of satisfied clients. The number of apps also offers insight into the different scenarios the PDO has encountered during past development projects, which can indicate the depth and breadth of technical competence.
  4. Do you have high approval/customer satisfaction ratings? These ratings, which range on a scale from 1 to 10, are publicly available on the AppExchange website. To get the ratings, Salesforce sends surveys directly to, and receives them directly back from, PDOs’ customers. PDOs never handle the surveys and cannot influence the feedback, other than through project performance. Find ratings for specific vendors by using the search function in the top-right corner of the Consultants section of the AppExchange website.
  5. How much integration experience do you bring? Experience and expertise on the Salesforce platform is important. Equally important is the PDO’s integration experience. Apps developed on the Salesforce platform often require interfacing with external solutions through web services. For instance, web services are useful for capabilities such as enriching Salesforce CRM data from an external source, offline data and pushing updated data to end users. The ability to integrate apps developed on the Salesforce platform with non-Salesforce technologies can determine a project’s ultimate success.
  6. Do your employees maintain individual Salesforce certifications in the areas needed for this project? PDO certification applies to the organization and is based partly on the professional certifications held by the PDO’s staff. Salesforce-certified professionals have demonstrated their knowledge in Salesforce technologies across one or several areas, including administration, app building, implementation, marketing, architecture, and development. Ensure the potential PDO partner has the right expertise on staff.

The kind of deep platform knowledge that PDOs bring is often essential in navigating complex, technical challenges, which can shorten the time it takes to get an app competed and to pass Salesforce’s stringent security reviews. All apps developed by ISVs and OEMs on the Salesforce platform must pass Salesforce’s security review.

Contact us for a deeper conversation on the value of Salesforce certification and on how a PDO might assist in your project.

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Andrew Lawlor is a leading authority and published author on cloud computing and CRM technology. He specializes in helping companies and government agencies fully integrate Salesforce and other cloud-based applications with enterprise software. Since founding Aptaria in 2002, Andrew has led integration and implementation projects for major clients including Citibank, Danone, Colliers International, American Red Cross, and ExxonMobil. Prior to Aptaria, he held IT management positions at Verizon and webMethods. Andrew holds an Electrical Engineering degree with honors from the University of Maryland at College Park and he studied computer science and electrical engineering at Columbia University's Graduate School. He is a Salesforce.com Certified Developer. Andrew lives in McLean, Virginia with his wife, daughter, and son. When not working he enjoys playing and watching basketball and playing poker.