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Last updated: Jan 3, 2018

Salesforce apps: AppExchange vs. custom development

Author: Maria Tsarouva
Last updated: Jan 3, 2018
What's inside

You need a specific app to work with Salesforce. What's the first thing you do? You go to the AppExchange, of course. Why would you reinvent the wheel if there are already thousands of apps already developed?

Well, sometimes the answer to that question is more complicated than you might think. Before we discuss the pros and cons of developing your own Salesforce app, here are some considerations.

Why do you need the app in the first place?

What is the main purpose of the app you are considering? Take a close look at your existing processes and how they will function with the new app. Who will be your users? An internal team, customers, vendors, or suppliers? If the users are diverse, what features should be available for each user type? What are the essential, optional, and nice-to-have features?

If you are considering purchasing an app from the AppExchange, a predetermined list of requirements will help you narrow down your choices and prevent you from wasting money on an app that does not fully meet your needs.

Think Ahead

Improving existing business processes is a good plan, but don’t forget to think about the future. How are you going to scale your business and, consequently, your app? Will the app meet your business requirements in 6 months or a year? It might be difficult to predict, but you should consider all scenarios. If you need to scale an app, can you customize an AppExchange app accordingly?

Allocate Enough Time

In terms of time spent on app installation, a ready-made app from the AppExchange is the best bet, as it usually only takes a couple of hours or days in more complicated cases. However, with constantly increasing business requirements, you can easily reach the limits of scalability and will have to take a closer look at custom salesforce development.

Stay Aware of Costs

An AppExchange app is usually a license-based subscription that requires monthly payments based on the number of users. When you consider your number of users and the long-term subscription costs, it may be cheaper to develop an app from scratch.

When is it reasonable to install an app from the AppExchange?

The Salesforce AppExchange offers 3,000+ apps for various industries and business fields. Do a search based on your requirements and check to see if there is one that will meet all your needs. For example, if you need to manage and sign electronic documents, you can just download DocuSign or PandaDoc.

Consider the following when it comes to downloading an app from the AppExchange:

  • Is there is a 80% or higher match between what you need and an already available app?
  • Are you ready to adjust and align the existing processes with the logic provided by the chosen app?

Don't forget to take a look at the support level offered by the app provider. This is important in case you want to customize the app in the future.

Developing a Custom App

The decision to develop a custom app is never easy. In most cases, it’s due to the absence of necessary functionality and opportunity to scale. As a general rule, an AppExchange app covers general processes and not industry-specific features.

For example, finding a recruiting app for the healthcare industry can be a challenge. But a custom solution would deliver everything you need for your particular business processes, i.e. Salesforce-LinkedIn integration, etc. Plus, you’ll always have the option to scale in the future.

Outsourcing Custom App Development

Companies rarely have enough available resources to build fully scalable Salesforce apps, which is why outsourcing is so popular. Here is how you can ensure that your custom-built app meets your needs and expectations.

Designate a responsible employee

A Salesforce development team should be in touch with a dedicated person who is responsible for app development on your side. This ensures the developed solution fully meets the negotiated requirements.

Set requirements

Having predetermined use cases and requirements is necessary in order to understand the scope of Salesforce programming required and to help lower development costs. Miscommunications and constantly changing requirements can cost you big time. To prevent additional costs while ensuring the app fully meets your needs and expectations, work on a specification that describes the necessary functionality and features.

Whether you choose to install an app from the AppExchange or create your own, the solution should serve the ultimate goal of boosting your overall business performance. The success of your Salesforce solution depends on how efficiently its capabilities are aligned with your business processes.

Need to enhance your current Salesforce operations? We can help! Get in touch with our experts.

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