When organizations implement Salesforce, they usually look at cost in 2 ways. First, they look at the licensing costs. To figure out licensing costs, they determine who in their organization needs a license and what kind of license they should get. Salesforce is really good at giving recommendations for a licensing model that fits an organization, and changing or adding licenses is fairly straightforward. So after doing some due diligence with Salesforce, the costs for licenses are pretty transparent.
The second cost that gets attention is the cost of implementation. And although Salesforce is highly configurable and easy to get started, many companies engage with implementation partners to do the heavy lifting. Activities like integration, data migration, complex configurations, and customizations usually require the help of outside experts. Calculating the costs of a Salesforce implementation is a complex activity. Unlike license costs, it’s not the number of users that is the biggest variable, but the number of business processes being implemented. So a company with 1,000 users who are doing basically the same thing will be able to implement Salesforce for a lower cost than a company with 500 users who are doing a variety of business activities. Implementation costs usually include things like change management and working with integration middleware or ETL tools.
Even though figuring out the cost of implementation is complex, there are many experienced implementation partners in the market who can give organizations a pretty decent estimate of the cost. That said, if an organization gets 3 bids for an implementation project, and one is particularly lower than the other 2, rest assured they are missing something. As with most things, you usually get what you pay for.
Costs after go-live
Salesforce customers and vendors tend to see the completion of an implementation as the finish line, when it’s actually the starting line. While go-live is a time to celebrate, getting the most value out of Salesforce requires attention and care. Figuring out how to maintain and evolve Salesforce is too often an afterthought for companies. But really, figuring out how to thrive after go-live should be a part of the implementation process.
The key figure for Salesforce-enabled organizations after go-live is the administrator. Having a great Salesforce administrator helps organizations make good decisions, use resources wisely, and helps the org grow with the business. So it sounds easy, yes? Just recruit a great administrator and everything will be fine. But of course, it’s not that easy. Certified administrators are hard to find, and once one is found, they are hard to keep. And most organizations need more than one. In fact, according to Salesforce’s Best Practices Guide, a company with just 500 users should have 2-4 system admins and 1-2 business analysts.
The costs for keeping a staff like this can be roughly calculated. According to Glassdoor, the average salary for a Salesforce system admin is $62,504. The average salary for a business analyst is $65,973. Of course, this can vary widely depending on the location of the job and the experience of the employee, but altogether, salaries to support a 500-user org come to $190,981-$381,962 per year. That is, if you can find and retain talented system admins and business analysts at all. Competition for people with these skills is fierce.
The emerging alternative
In our experience, organizations are finding success by taking an alternative approach to the post-go-live rat race. That is, by teaming skilled business analysts with a managed service provider, organizations are maximizing their Salesforce instance and helping stay ahead of the competition. Appirio’s Cloud Management service extends the capabilities of internal teams with subscription-based access to cloud expertise and technology based on thousands of cloud projects. We deliver advice, customization support, enhancements, and system administration — all for a simple, fixed annual fee.
Salesforce has emerged as the premier CRM tool for business. But getting the most value for your license costs requires setting up your system for success.