The dirty job of Application Management

by Ryan Northington

Salesforce is an exciting ecosystem. I have had the pleasure of being in this ecosystem starting in 2011, and since then I’ve been to seven Dreamforces and seen countless product launches from Salesforce Touch to Einstein. I’ve been part of building innovative mobile apps that help non-profit health organizations collect blood with more accurate and fast results and have been part of large organizational transformation exercises as well.

But, even with all of the innovation that comes out YoY and all the customers clawing at the next product from Salesforce, one theme has stayed the same: Organizations still have trouble operating Salesforce. They still struggle with adoption, they still have a backlog of changes that continues to grow, and they still find themselves in a combative relationship with their own end users or business.

This problem or need has only increased with the number of large enterprises making significant investments in Salesforce, as is evident in the most recent earnings report from Salesforce. But it’s not just enterprises dealing with this; the more products Salesforce releases or enhances to be enterprise-ready, the more companies of all sizes find themselves relying on Salesforce for their entire customer journey. Everything you need is on one platform now.

And who gets to manage all of this? Usually, someone from Sales Ops who probably doesn’t know anything about Application Management like ITIL or DevOps.  

Or maybe it’s IT who knows how to operate large enterprise applications but doesn’t know anything about Salesforce. Or perhaps the buyer of Salesforce (sales and marketing) has a different definition of “resolution time” (it’s usually faster than can be delivered) than IT does.

So what’s my recommendation for cleaning up Application Management in any size organization? Partner up. Here are three of the most important things you should look for when partnering with a Managed Services provider to alleviate the stress of Application Management:

 

Look for vendors that will commit named resources.  

Unless you have a budget for a big outsourcing contract, a lot of vendors will give you whoever is available when you need services. Or, a common middle ground is that they will provide you with a named point of contact, but the folks that do the work will be random based on availability. Don’t settle for either of these. Instead, make sure your vendor is willing to pony up an entire named team who will do the work right and with full transparency.

 

Pay attention to how your capacity rolls over over time.  

Most of these types of engagements are capacity based. You pay for capacity and then consume that capacity over time. Be wary of “use it or lose it” contracts. This mostly helps vendors pad their profits when, in reality, operating a large enterprise application means you don’t know when you’ll need to use your capacity to achieve your goals. That flexibility of utilization should be a guaranteed part of the partnership.

 

Provide feedback early and often.  

In the services world, everything is about people. You will have your own stakeholders, your own team, and the vendor will have their own team as well. A good vendor will want your feedback if expectations are misaligned and will go above and beyond to make sure an adjustment occurs. It’s your job to be sure to provide that feedback early on, and then a good partner will adjust to make sure you have what you need to be successful.

 

We’ve got a great team at Simplus who have done this for over 250 clients from all industries and of all sizes. We’ve handled a lot of different backlogs, we’ve helped stand up Change Advisory Boards, and we’ve seen the arguments between the operators (IT and Ops) and the business. We can help navigate this persistent daily journey an organization will inevitably find themselves on—we’ll do the dirty work for you.

With all of the innovation and investments to push the platform to do more, the one thing that stays the same is that there are few companies out there that know how to operate Salesforce at scale. And when the honeymoon from Dreamforce or that last big innovation wears off, all that is left is to operate successfully and keep your end users productive.

 

RyanNRyan is currently the Managing Director of Strategic Services at Simplus. The goal of Strategic Services is to build and operate new high growth practices focused on either a new service line or a new technology capability.

ryann@simplus.com

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