6 Qualities to Look for When Hiring a Salesforce App Developer

February 02, 2022 | Andrew Lawlor

If your company is considering building a Salesforce app to distribute on the AppExchange, you probably are thinking that you need to find a developer who has experience.

That’s true — but there’s more to it than that.

The key to hiring a Salesforce app developer (also known as a product development organization, or PDO) is finding one with more than just “experience.” They need to have six specific types of experience.

A PDO that has them can help an independent software vendor (ISV) launch a popular — and profitable — web app. A PDO that doesn’t will waste the ISV’s time, effort and money.

That’s an outcome no company wants. So, without any further introduction, let’s go over the six types of experience you should be looking for in a Salesforce App developer.

1. Experience on the Salesforce Platform

At the most basic level, you want to know that your development partner has significant experience in the Salesforce ecosystem. Without it, your project will be in jeopardy from the start.

Two key questions can reveal the degree of Salesforce experience a potential development partner has:

  • How many certified Salesforce resources do they have on staff?
  • What certifications does the staff have?

Salesforce offers at least 20 different types of certifications, but not all are relevant for AppExchange development. The ones that are include Administrator, Architect, Consultants and Developer.

2. Experience Building AppExchange Apps

Salesforce app development requires certain knowledge and skills that are unique to Salesforce. Developers work with Salesforce’s proprietary technology, such as VisualForce, Apex and Lightning Web Components. You don’t want a beginner taking on this challenge.

Here are three important questions to ask about a PDO’s experience building Appexchange apps:

  • How many Salesforce apps have you built?
  • Were any for high-profile companies?
  • How complex were they?

It goes without saying that the more experience your development pattern has, the better.

3. Experience Getting Through Salesforce’s Security Review Process

As Salesforce says, “The scope of cyberthreats is large, and Salesforce upholds high security standards for solutions distributed on AppExchange. The review process is rigorous.” 

A good PDO knows not only how to navigate Salesforce’s security review, but how to navigate the process quickly. 

An inexperienced PDO might have an app rejected not once, but multiple times — meaning months and months of delays for you. That’s why asking questions like “Have you had any difficulties getting apps through the security review process?” is important. 

It’s also important to know that no PDO gets every app through review on the first try. A good PDO understands security requirements well enough that they can address issues that come up in the review and re-submit quickly. Multiple rejections and lengthy review periods, on the other hand, should be red flags. 

And remember: because security threats are always changing, Salesforce’s review process is always evolving, too. You want a development partner who is up to date on today’s security threats and knows how to write an app that protects users from these threats. That will put them in position to develop an app that has a better chance of passing the security review process.

how to hire a salesforce app developer

4. Experience With Complex Integrations 

If your app will be integrating Salesforce data with data from an outside service, make sure your development partner has done it before. 

It’s true that self-contained AppExchange apps that use data only from Salesforce can be complex. But the apps that pull data in from external sources through an API present a special challenge.

So make sure to ask how many apps requiring external integrations the PDO has built. And ask them to describe one of the more complex integrations they have performed. You should learn a lot about your potential development partner in this conversation. 

Ideally, you will learn that they have developed multiple apps that seamlessly integrate external data into the Salesforce user experience. 

5. Experience Building User-Friendly Experiences

There’s no doubt that a successful AppExchange app relies on good data and well-executed code. But you also need to make sure that the PDO you consider for app development knows user experience, or UX.

An app with great UX will be seamless for its users on Salesforce. Low-friction, pleasant experiences lead to greater adoption and repeat use — and that’s your goal as an ISV. 

If your app isn’t user-friendly, on the other hand, the valuable data or service you offer will never reach the user. 

Questions you could consider asking include:

  • In your opinion, what is the key to good UX in a Salesforce app?
  • Can you show us (or describe) some UX work in a Salesforce app that you’re particularly proud of?

6. Experience Running a Well-Developed Agile Software Process

Finally, we would suggest asking a potential app development partner a simple question: Do you use agile?

By agile, we are referring to the agile software development process. Ideally, the PDO you work with will have a well-developed agile process in place. 

Why? There are three key reasons: 

  1. Using the agile methodology gives a project a higher probability of success
  2. Projects using agile are less likely to go over budget 
  3. Agile projects are also more likely to stay on schedule and finish on time

Can a developer succeed using another methodology? Yes … but in our experience, the development companies that use agile have higher rates of success and customer satisfaction. 

In summary, the six types of experience you should be seeking out when hiring a Salesforce app developer are: 

  1. Experience on the Salesforce Platform
  2. Experience Building AppExchange Apps
  3. Experience Getting Through Salesforce’s Security Review Process
  4. Experience With Complex Integrations
  5. Experience Building User-Friendly Experiences
  6. Experience Running a Well-Developed Agile Software Process 

If your potential development partner answers those six questions satisfactorily, you have a good chance at success in the app development process. Good luck in your search! 

How does Aptaria develop Salesforce AppExchange apps for its clients? Read this case study on our work with Wealth Engine for an inside look.

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