Articles  |   27-10-2021

How to Select the Right Salesforce Partner to Achieve Your Goals

How to Select the Right Salesforce Partner to Achieve Your Goals

 

 

Introduction… You Have a Vision

It outlines how your organization should evolve with Salesforce over the next few years. The vision might be high-level or very detailed. It might be pragmatic, or a stretch. But whatever your vision is, your best chance to bring it to fruition is to select the right Salesforce Partner.

Here is a simple lens through which you can assess and score your potential Partners.

 

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How to Select the Right Salesforce Parnter

 

 

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How to Select the Right Salesforce Partner… to Achieve Your Goals

You Have a Vision

It outlines how your organization should evolve with Salesforce over the next few years. The vision might be high-level or very detailed. It might be pragmatic, or a stretch. But whatever your vision is, your best chance to bring it to fruition is to select the right Salesforce Partner.

Here is a simple lens through which you can assess and score your potential Partners.

 

People, Process, and Capabilities

To assess potential Partners, use the following criteria:

Overall

  • Culture: it impacts every other criteria.
  • Testimonials: first-hand knowledge of every other criteria. Qualitative track record.

People

  • Technical expertise: knowing how to design and implement.
  • Industry expertise: ability to understand your business.
  • Turnover: are the people who have the expertise still there?

Process

  • Project methodology: is the process suited to achieve your vision?
  • Project team structure: how is the project team structured?
  • KPIs: are the KPIs of the project team aligned with your objectives?

Capabilities

  • Number of projects completed: quantifiable track record.
  • Size & bandwidth: can they handle the volume of work necessary to realize your vision?

 

To rate potential Partners, use the following rating:

  • Overall: 10 points per criteria (2), total / 20.
  • People: 10 points per criteria (3), total / 30.
  • Process: 10 points per criteria (3), total / 30.
  • Capabilities: 10 points per criteria (2), total / 20.

Total score: / 100

 

 

Overall (20 pts)

Culture – What to Look For

There is a cultural fit with your vision. And, the culture of the Partner is in alignment with the other criteria (People, Process and Capabilities).

Deal clincher: coherence between culture and processes, feels genuine.

Culture – Red Flags

There is a disconnect between your vision and the advertised culture. Or, you can see a disconnect between the culture and the other criteria (People, Process and Capabilities).

Deal breaker: incoherence, feels disingenuous.

 

Testimonials – What to Look For

What do customers actually say about the Partner? Look for testimonials that are:

  • Recent.
  • Public.
  • Not anonymous.
  • About projects in your industry.

Deal clincher: The Partner has project testimonials from people who would work on YOUR project. It speaks to track record, as well as low turnover.

Testimonials – Red Flags

The proof is in the pudding. Be wary of:

  • Too few testimonials relative to the Partner’s size.
  • All the testimonials are very old.
  • All testimonials are coming from another region or business unit of the Partner. You may not work with these people at all.

Deal breaker: A lack of relevant testimonials is not necessarily a deal breaker, but it puts an additional burden of proof on the Partner for all the other criteria.

 

People (30 pts)

Technical Expertise – What to Look For

The people that will WORK on YOUR project are qualified. They have:

  • Salesforce Certifications and/or super badges in the Salesforce Clouds that are central to your project.
  • Years of experience with Salesforce.
  • Years of project experience.

Deal clincher: the entire project team members, from analysts to developers and admins, are qualified. Not just a fraction of the team.

Technical Expertise – Red Flags

The people that will WORK on YOUR project do not seem sufficiently qualified. They lack:

  • Salesforce Certifications and/or super badges in the Salesforce Clouds that are central to your project.
  • Salesforce experience and/or project experience.

Deal breaker: only a small fraction of the project team appears qualified. For example, the analysts are qualified, but the developers are not, or vice versa.

 

Industry Expertise – What to Look For

The project leaders and analysts that will WORK on YOUR project have industry expertise, which can take many forms, including:

  • Previous client-side industry experience.
  • Consultant-side experience in your industry or a similar industry.
  • Demonstrated ability to understand business models and realities, as well as challenge assumptions.

Deal clincher: the questions asked by project leaders and analysts make you say “I hadn’t thought of that” or “we’ve been thinking about this for a while”.

Industry Expertise – Red Flags

The project leaders and analysts that will WORK on YOUR project:

  • Do not have significant business experience or the equivalent consulting experience.
  • Only express themselves or ask questions that are technical in nature.
  • Cannot engage with you about business topics such as long-term strategy, customer lifecycle, go-to-market, synergy across departments, etc.

Deal breaker: you don’t feel that you or your team can learn and grow from working with the Partner. Questions asked are not relevant and old assumptions are not challenged.

 

Turnover – What to Look For

The Partner has low turnover, which is an achievement in the current IT job market. This reduces risk to your project on many fronts, including:

  • Continuity in technical and business expertise throughout your project.
  • Staffing stability enables the Partner to assign the right resource to the right task at the right moment.

Deal clincher: the Partner can tell you who will work on your project and they are as advertised.

Turnover – Red Flags

The Partner has high turnover, which increases risk to your project on many fronts, including:

  • Having to rely on junior resources.
  • Losing technical and/or business expertise during the project.
  • Experiencing breaks in continuity that can jeopardize timelines and milestones.

Deal breaker: the Partner seems to be shuffling resources right and left and cannot tell you who exactly will do the work. This is a sign of high turnover or of a disconnected or generic way to dispatch work.

 

Process (30 pts)

Project Methodology – What to Look For

A modern, powerful, and flexible platform like Salesforce is ideal for continuous improvement. The Partner methodology you are looking for is:

  • Agile or hybrid, where the architecture is de-risked and the MVP of your project can be implemented quickly.
  • From there, your Partner is able to continue adding functionalities and optimizations in rapid succession.
  • This creates momentum and speed across your organization.

Deal clincher: the Partner takes full advantage of the platform to deliver value quickly and keep adding value for your teams.

Project Methodology – Red Flags

If you go back 20 years, implementation projects were talked about in 2, 3 or 5-year frameworks. The methodology used was waterfall. Red flags are:

  • Using the waterfall methodology.
  • Partners claiming to use agile methodology, but estimated timelines feel very outdated. That’s waterfall.

Deal breaker: whatever the words used, everything feels like waterfall: never-ending requirements gathering, no MVP in sight, long and opaque implementations, etc.

 

Project Team Structure – What to Look For

This element is probably the least considered but often plays a substantial role in project delivery. You are looking for:

  • A project structure without unnecessary middlemen.
  • You want the main analysts of your project to work as closely with the development team as possible.
  • This way, the people who understand your objectives the most are the ones driving execution.

Deal clincher: a lean project team structure where the most knowledgeable people are the most empowered, thereby enabling a faster and higher quality delivery.

Project Team Structure – Red Flags

There are too many middlemen involved and accountability is lost. The structure is more adapted to waterfall than agile. Be wary of:

  • Project roles & responsibilities that are too narrow; decreasing empowerment and increasing silos and “not my job” syndrome.
  • Some project participants are positioned in the structure to act as buffers rather than accelerators.
  • Structures that complicate communication between project participants.

Deal breaker: count the degrees of separation between the main analysts gathering your requirements and the people doing the actual implementation. Having too many degrees of separation is a deal breaker.

 

KPIs – What to Look For

The KPIs of the respective project team members ARE tied to your success. Examples:

  • Getting positive reviews or customer referrals are KPIs.
  • Quality is a KPI.
  • Speed of delivery is a KPI.

Deal clincher: the Partner’s KPIs use a balanced approach of internal objectives, as well as customer-centric objectives, that are aligned with company culture. If the culture is not aligned with the objectives, there is a gap.

KPIs – Red Flags

The KPIs of the respective project team members are NOT tied to your success. Examples:

  • Customer satisfaction is not part of anybody’s objectives or bonuses.
  • All KPIs look inwards, none look outwards and relate to the customer.

Deal breaker: an example of a bad KPI would be developers who must clear tickets with a certain level of velocity… without the KPI mentioning that the ticket is only cleared if the solution is satisfactory to the customer. It’s very easy to “close” tickets.

 

Capabilities (20 pts)

Number of Projects Completed – What to Look For

A quantifiable track record that shows:

  • Medium to large companies should look for Partners that have completed a significant number of projects.
  • Small companies with a very standard implementation can select a Partner with a smaller number of projects.

Deal clincher: the number of projects is not a deal clincher per se, but rather an indicator of size and years in business.

Number of Projects Completed – Red Flags

Too few projects or no other evidence of completed projects. A Partner with a significant track record should have:

  • Testimonials.
  • Numerous Salesforce-verified “Completed Projects” on the AppExchange.
  • If there are no traces of the accomplishments, ask, “Why?”.

Deal breaker: if your project is complex and highly customized, you want a Partner with a lot of project experience.

 

Size & Bandwidth – What to Look For

The Partner has the size to tackle your project. Pay special attention to numbers AND seniority. For example:

  • If you have a multi-Cloud project, you typically need at least one analyst per Cloud, and the developers that go with that.
  • But don’t get blinded by numbers. Seniority is key. A senior analyst can outperform several junior analysts, and the same goes for developers. Numbers aren’t everything.

Deal clincher: the size is there AND the right experts are in the right roles.

Size & Bandwidth – Red Flags

The Partner is either too small or too big.

Too big:

  • You have a $500K project, but the Partner’s average project is $5M. You won’t have the Partner’s full attention, even if they have the size.

Too small:

  • You have a $500K project, but the Partner’s average project is $50K. You’ll have all the Partner’s attention, but their lack of experience in projects of this size may impact delivery.

Deal breaker: the shoe simply doesn’t fit.

 

Total:        / 100 pts

Conclusion

Tally your Potential Partners’ score and data you can assess. Don’t underestimate intangibles — on paper, a lot of Partners can look the same. Beyond clear measurable strengths and weaknesses, in the end, it might come down to culture and your gut feeling.