Surprise! Despite their marketing and reputation, Saleforce.com is not the right choice for every organization. Take a deep breathe. It is going to be OK…
You won’t find any shortage of people, articles and posts saying how wonderful the Salesforce community is, Appexchange Aps are and the amazingly powerful software but there are a couple of thinks that should make any company with less than 100 employees in particular take pause before pulling the Salesforce trigger. Here are some things to consider:
- SalesForce Lightning Essentials and Lightning Professional edition (as I call it “Salesforce Lite”) are more costly than the competition’s full products yet missing key functionality of the “full boat” Salesforce products (Enterprise and Unlimited). Lightning Professional is $75 per user per month. Zoho Enterprise (for example) is $35 per user per month. Zoho Plus with everything but the kitchen sink is only $50 per user per month and other non-Salesforce products are in the same neighborhood. Make no mistake about it, Salesforce Enterprise (currently $150 per user per month) is a far more featured package than the competition but it come at a much higher price and requires more active administration than other packages. Additionally, those advanced features tend to require the most care and feeding (administration) to use effectively.
- Salesforce Lite doesn’t allow for automated workflows and there is are key limitations in reporting and dashboards. Dashboards don’t refresh automatically and Dynamic Dashboards aren’t supported. In other words Dashboards are pretty useless as dashboards. Reports also don’t support bucked fields and you cannot create a joined or cross filtered report–that is a report that joins multiple tables (objects in Salesforce-ese) or eliminates records displayed based on other table values in a report. This means that fundamentally all reports are only basic reports. No automated workflows means no approval processes and the really slick features of any CRM (Workflows and assignment rules) are not available.
- The Salesforce API isn’t available on Salesforce Lite editions. The main implication of this is that the Data Loader tool isn’t offered on these editions making data import and export difficult (there are third party tools that can get around this limitation). The other key limitation that the lack of API implies is that interfacing Salesforce with other external systems (marketing, accounting, etc.) becomes a lot harder if not do-able at all.
- The number of page layouts and record types per object is very limited. If a company has multiple sales processes for different product lines record types and multiple page layouts make a major contribution to efficiency. With this limitation, screens are likely to be a lot more cluttered and training of new people is much more difficult.
For a lot of organizations being directed to the Lite editions of Salesforce, they really should consider other products for these functionality limitation reasons. The only reason I can think of to use these editions is if they are a temporary stopgap solution before implementing Full Boat Salesforce. Perhaps in a start up company expecting to grow rapidly that wants a solution with an easy path the the Enterprise level solution. Far too many companies get caught up in the narrative that since Salesforce is what the big boys use it must be he best and that is what we should use (The infamous “Nobody ever got fired b\for buying IBM” decision methodology) and they end up with a more expensive and more cumbersome solution (with a more cumbersome solution, adoption and the benefits of the system will be lower).
Our recommendation remains that we are really big fans of Salesforce but at the same time we think that a company would be better served by making a more informed choice in what is the right solution for them.
These guys have a more comprehensive list if the limitations of Salesforce Lite but I don’t think most of them are significant.