So you’ve implemented Salesforce, now what? Do you have a plan in place to maintain it, or to swiftly and proactively work through issues before they become full-blown problems? As your organization grows and evolves, how will your Salesforce CRM adapt to support it?
In the world of Salesforce management and maintenance, organizations have taken a variety of approaches, including hiring a full-time administrator, outsourcing to an IT company when a problem arises (known as the “break-and-fix” model), or relying on their in-house IT personnel.
But as more organizations explore ways to be more proactive and intentional when it comes to orchestrating their customer experience, it makes sense to take a similar tact to managing and maintaining the single most important tool in the customer experience equation: the CRM. The problem is, some of the aforementioned models and methods are reactionary versus deliberate. And this is why Salesforce managed services has become a more attractive solution for many organizations.
What is managed services?
Simply stated, managed services offers a proactive way to externally administer your Salesforce. The idea of managed services became popular in the late 90s to early 2000s as technology use in business ramped up significantly. Most organizations could no longer afford the downtime, lost data and decrease in productivity associated with broken machines and software.
Managed services provided a way for organizations to proactively manage their technology maintenance and more accurately budget for IT expenses by keeping an IT partner on retainer for a specific bank of hours per week or month. As it applies to Salesforce, a managed services provider will essentially serve as a partner in maintaining updates and system security, mitigating issues before they become problems, as well as strategically overseeing the evolution of your system to support the organization’s development and growth.
Now, as Salesforce has become one of the most widely used sales, marketing, customer success, and business operations tools, managed services have become appealing because providers can help signal problems as soon as they develop and take action immediately. In many cases, it allows organizations to get out ahead of the issue to course correct before it has the potential to cause a disruption to your team or customers, hamper pipeline or cripple revenues.
Alternatives to manage services
As mentioned, organizations not utilizing managed services will manage their Salesforce through a variety of other methods including employing a full-time Salesforce administrator or developer, hiring an outside vendor when something breaks, or relying on internal IT personnel.
Hiring a dedicated Salesforce administrator can be an effective method for many organizations. The only issues arise when that person leaves and your system knowledge leaves with them because there wasn’t a process in place for documenting updates, issues and core processes. Depending on how much your organization relies on Salesforce, leaving it to your IT personnel, who likely has a host of other duties, can be risky business. When they have other responsibilities, maintenance and issue resolution can take days if not weeks to address sending a ripple of delays throughout the company.
On-demand services, on the other hand, are through an outside partner or vendor. Much like a help desk an on-demand partner can be at the ready to support when an issue occurs. Typically this follows the break-and-fix model in which you’re simply waiting on a problem or failure of some kind to indicate a problem. When the problem occurs, there’s a mad dash to fix the issue, but the challenge is, there can often be lag time after the issue is communicated, a ticket is filed and you’re put in the cue for support. Some partners do offer a more proactive approach to on-demand support, providing some strategy and issue assessment, but one-off engagements mean less understanding about your business model and CRM needs.
Managed services are more accessible than ever
Until more recent years, the idea managed services was something only afforded to large, enterprise companies with healthy IT budgets. But now, as this sector has matured and advanced, it’s become attainable to organizations of all sizes.
Today, many organizations are outsourcing their Salesforce maintenance and management to a Managed Services Provider (MSP) or in some cases, layering managed services with an in-house Salesforce administrator. It’s worth taking the time to assess your team’s bandwidth, level of expertise, future growth roadmap and how Salesforce fits into and supports that picture. This will help you determine the level of Salesforce support you need.
Whichever path you choose, it’s critical to stay on top of system updates, security protocols and take a proactive approach to maintenance. Salesforce is a robust CRM that, when properly managed can give you a strategic advantage over the competition, but without a plan in place, problems can rapidly spin out of control and sideline your organization. And that can have a dramatic impact on your team’s productivity and your bottom line.