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Do You Need a Salesforce Managed Service Provider?


Salesforce is arguably one of the most robust and powerful CRM platforms on the market today –– and it’s constantly evolving. The most effective Salesforce organizations will not remain stagnant. To get the most out of your Salesforce you are going to need someone to maintain and manage it. But how do you decide who is best for your organization?

There are several options for maintaining and managing your Salesforce –– building an in-house team, having an external team on call to fix breaks, relying on internal IT personnel or utilizing a Managed Service Provider (MSP). Choosing the right option depends on your budget, needs and structure of your organization. Below we discuss various options to help you choose what may be best for you.

In-house Salesforce Administrator

One of the more common approaches undertaken by large enterprise organizations is to hire an in-house Salesforce Administrator. Having a Salesforce Administrator internally allows for on-site support, feedback and expertise. The person also can be a strong motivator for adoption across the entire organization. But maintaining an internal full-time Salesforce Administrator can be costly and puts a large responsibility on a single person with a finite knowledge bank. The average annual Salesforce Administrator salary is $95,000, which does not take into account, costs associated with recruiting, hiring, on-boarding, and retaining the candidate. Additionally, knowledge and resources are limited to a single person who inevitably could get sick, take vacation days at any point in time, or leave the organization, putting a strain on the team.

Hiring an outside vendor when something breaks

Another option that may be more cost-effective involves having an external team on call to fix things when they break. This, naturally, is commonly referred to as the “break-fix” method. Because an organization only pays for services when a problem arises, in theory, it saves money. But unreliable turnaround times and a minute understanding of your organization may outweigh the potential savings. When a problem arises, you may be waiting in a queue of other issues before yours is addressed, which, depending on the severity of the break, could cost you in more ways than one. This approach also doesn’t set your organization up to get in front of potential issues before they become a problem.

Relying on internal IT personnel

Commonly, Salesforce issues and updates are relegated to internal IT personnel either as a way to save money or simply because teams underestimate the workload associated with maintaining the CRM. This eventually puts a strain on internal IT teams because Salesforce administration is layered on top of their regular duties. Because it’s just one component of their overall role, IT teams tend to lack the in-depth knowledge a certified Salesforce staff would have to solve a problem quickly and efficiently or get out ahead of it to avoid it altogether. In the end, relying on internal IT staff could cost an organization significantly more time and money than initially anticipated with a suboptimal solution.

Managed Service Provider (MSP)

An MSP is an external organization that administers all of an organization’s Salesforce needs in an ongoing basis, but more importantly brings strategy to the table. MSPs give organizations access to a team of certified experts who can manage and maintain your Salesforce by proactively identifying weaknesses and threats before problems occur, align the powerful CRM to your organizational goals to ensure it grows with your company, and identify opportunities to optimize it. Organizations that choose the MSP route often do so because it gives them access to the equivalent of a full-time, in-house team without the overhead cost of one. The key difference is MSPs work remotely.

Before you decide which route to take there are a few questions your team should evaluate:

What are the organization’s goals? / What do we want to get out of Salesforce?

Evaluate your current state and identify the challenges you are trying to solve. If you’re trying to maintain your Salesforce or optimize it, an MSP is a good option for you. If significant growth is on your roadmap, building an internal team of all-stars may be the best option.

What is our budget, timeline and currently available resources?

Evaluate the cost of making internal hires and the resources required to onboard those individuals. How soon do you need someone to step in? Factor in time for recruiting and evaluating candidates then getting them up to speed on your organization. If your need is more immediate, an MSP can be a better solution. However, if you have the resources available to invest in building a team from the ground up, that can be an optimal solution for organizations with long-term growth plans.

Things to look for in a Managed Service Provider

If you’re leaning towards an MSP, there are a few key traits to look for during your evaluation:

  • Expertise –– What kind of projects have they handled in the past? Do they have a keen understanding of your industry? How many members of their team are Salesforce certified?
  • How well do they align with your business –– Do they understand your vision and your goals? Are they on board with what you are creating? Are they proactive in generating ideas that demonstrate not only a keen understanding of your business model and industry, but also that they are bought-in to the vision?
  • Cultural fit –– Do they align with your culture and core values? Can you see them working alongside your team in a collaborative and positive way?

The decision to build in-house versus bring on an MSP can be a tough decision, particularly if Salesforce is core to your operations. Take the time to look at short- and long-term goals, current and future-state resources, and what is most important to you. If flexibility, low overhead and strategy are important to you, an MSP may be a viable option. However, if you envision significantly growing your Salesforce, and have the resources available, then building an in-house team could be the better route.