IT Detente

If your company is running 100% on Salesforce.com, you can ignore my little diatribe below. In most instances Salesforce (the new kid on the block) will have to coexist with legacy tools or alternative tools.

Détente – A word made popular by Henry Kissinger during the cold war meaning “peaceful coexistence.”

Why IT Departments Hate Salesforce.com

IT folks are typically threatened by Salesforce – especially if your company has a dedicated application development team. Salesforce.com is empowering technology to business owners because they can implement robust solutions quickly without being “techy.” Salesforce might be a godsend for some business owners as they can pull their “need” out of the list of IT projects where it has to compete against other proposed solutions (let’s face it – it is rare for IT Projects not to get political).

One business owner summed it for me pretty well on why she liked Salesforce. She knew that she can have updates done within days rather than wait for approval from a steering committee. Getting an “update” was nearly impossible with IT as she would have to wait for a programmer to become available. As we know programmers are rarely, if ever, idle. When an “update” is valued at $ impact to a company, and a net new program is valued at $$$, updates to existing solutions get pushed down on the priority list.

The Hammer vs. The Screwdriver

The more custom solutions your IT department builds, the more “value” they have to the organization (let’s acknowledge the elephant in the room – we’re talking about job security!). This is where the CIO or the CEO needs to take a step back and declare détente between your IT department and Salesforce.com business owners. The way I like to explain Salesforce is that it’s an asset of your company – simply a tool in the solution toolbox at your company’s disposal. Salesforce is not the perfect solution for every business need (I know – blasphemy!). Your company might have multiple tools at its disposal – for example Microsoft’s SharePoint “a hammer,” Salesforce “a screwdriver” (ok, maybe a Swiss Army knife), and Development Tool X (a saw). Each has its benefits and drawbacks.

Cloud Computing is finally gaining traction with IT department as being mainstream and the next wave that will replace the client-server model. Even Microsoft recently admitted they made a mistake underestimating Cloud Computing and pledged to embrace the Cloud. Good news is that Salesforce.com continues to lead the space and morph from a canned suite of CRM applications into a development platform. If you’ve been watching the amount of features being released on the development side of the platform in the last two years you know that’s the emphasis for the company.

When a need arises, companies and IT departments need to step back and evaluate the options available. Hopefully someone who really knows what Salesforce can and cannot do – your administrator or a consultant – can evaluate the business requirements and weigh in on the “fit” of each option available.

Some things that will tip the decision in Salesforce favor:

Do the business users already have Salesforce accounts? If so, there will be no additional license expense and you will get better utilization out of your existing investment.

Can the solution be developed without having to have any kind of custom code – meaning, a versed System Administrator can configure this using all the native Salesforce elements.  Most companies have to outsource developers – that’s an additional expense to the project.

Where does the data reside? If it is already in Salesforce.com, that’s a plus.

These are just a few tipping points, but I have been amazed at the amount of effort some IT departments will expend to avoid letting a solution exist in Salesforce.

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