A Deep Dive Into Salesforce Customisation and Configuration

By Robert Ulrich

The Salesforce CRM platform comes well equipped with tools to improve your business operations and enhance your customer service relationship. However, not all businesses can be managed to the best of their ability with a generic CRM platform. It is imperative to tailor CRMs according to the needs of its users in order to gain maximum yields. 

There are two ways to modify the Salesforce solutions of any company which then define how the live business processes of any company can have different intensities of impacts as per the solution implemented – configuration or customisation. Both are used to tailor the CRM platform to serve the needs of their customers.

So what exactly differentiates these two means of tailoring your CRM? Let’s explore.

Salesforce Configuration 

Salesforce configuration can be done from within the CRM platform. It involves a user modifying pre-defined architecture to suit their needs. Configuration can be done by the user themselves or by hiring an expert. This type of configuration may include creating new objects and fields, or creating new tabs or groups of tabs known as apps. Other than that, configuration might include validation rules to verify that data entered in CRM meets a company’s internal quality standard. Default email templates can also be changed in order to configure a CRM to give it a more personal outlook.

Salesforce Customisation 

Salesforce customisation involves a more drastic change to the CRM. The customisation process involves acquiring the expertise of a Salesforce Partner and leveraging their experience to build a custom platform. In this way, users can tailor their experiences according to what suits them best. Some possible customisations may include creation of custom processes, bulk operations, and email customisation to maintain contact .       

Although, in practical terms, customised Salesforce solutions usually have elements of both configuration and customisation. To achieve a better balance between the two, it is always beneficial to begin with configuration while leveraging in full the default Salesforce capabilities and tools. Once such a need arises in a Salesforce solution that cannot be addressed only through configuration, then utilize processes of customisation.

 

Why May Salesforce Customisation Be Necessary?

Lack of Automation May Be Hindering Your Business Processes

The productivity of your employees can be improved remarkably and your sales and customer services can get a noteworthy boost through the automation of certain business operations.

Basic automation can be done through configuration without needing to do any deep modifications, which will enable your workflow rules and approval processes to be made and monitored through default Workflow and Approvals functionality, the Process Builder or the Flow Builder.

The results of such automation may include results like your managers getting notified through emails about any closed or pending and stuck deals, or your sales representatives getting notifications about any upcoming deadlines for opportunity processing. An example of when configuration comes in to automate field updating once the related fields are changed may be that when a service’s status changes to “Closed”, the actual closing date of the relevant field may also automatically appear.

Developers may suggest code-based customisation if you need to automate even more complicated processes. Apex Code can then be used to create multi-step custom processes, including approvals of discounts and purchase orders, revenue and tax calculations, etc.

UI/UX May Be Inconvenient

Default page layouts might not be fully serving the needs of your employees despite the fact that the new Salesforce UI is called Lightening Experience, and is more often than not user friendly. To improve the convenience for CRM use then, you may configure the page layouts, arrange your fields, apps and tabs to better suit the needs of the workflows of your business.

You should go for deeper customisation with Lightening Components and Visualforce if you are looking to make extensive UI modifications, such as creating a branded user interface that will necessitate that you make changes to every Salesforce page. It will also bring your CRM interface a customised view that is completely in line with your UI/UX requirements.

Lack of Visibility of Dashboard and Reports May Lead to Inefficient Reporting

You can configure your standard reports with default features like the Report Builder as one of the basic steps for managing your reports and dashboard. An example may be using different filters for presenting data from specific fields in the report or standard objects. A custom report type can also be created with default Salesforce functionality should you wish to reflect data from custom objects in your reports.

However, if you want to give your reports such a view that is not achievable through configuration only, then you would need your Salesforce developers to customise your reports further with Apex code.

To understand this better, let’s take the example of a business that needs to deliver sample products to customers for a trial period, which requires several date fields to track where the product may be at any given time. These may include “arrived from customer”, “delivered to a customer, “product returned” etc. In such a scenario, the number of columns, rows, and field filters in a report would be beyond the limits of any default Report Builder and will require deeper customisation.

Apex classes, through which templates from custom Salesforce objects are created, will be needed to build such a report with the required number of columns and lines. Salesforce Object Query Language (SOQL) queries may also be used along with it for better results.

Lack of Third Party Integrations Causing Ineffective Business Processes

If you are looking to achieve the aligned work of a Salesforce CRM with different systems (like ERP, DMS, an e-commerce platform), your developers can move towards integrating these by using default Salesforce tools such as Files Connect for Salesforce-SharePoint integration as well as API web services such as REST and SOAP. The developers can also build integration tools from scratch, and that is where custom development comes in.

APIs can be used on their own if you are using the Enterprise edition or higher of your Sales/Service Cloud, to integrate your system. If you are considering using Essentials, then note that the simplest Sales/Services Cloud edition does not allow for third-party integrations. However the Professional edition will allow you to do so for a cost of $25 per user per month in addition to the standard license price.

The method of Salesforce integration that you eventually use will also be dictated by the integration levels you wish to cover and the number of systems you want to integrate. If we talk about integration levels, there are two basic levels – data and process integration, and two additional levels – security and user interface integration.

To explain further, let’s say that if a consumer needs simple integration, they can go for readymade integration applications available on AppExchange but if they want to connect multiple systems to Salesforce, then this approach would be much more expensive for them since a separate app will be needed for every integration. In such cases, it would be better for them to get custom integration embracing all systems.

As far as the integration levels are concerned, higher the number of levels that require to be integrated, the higher the need and efficacy of custom integration solutions, provided by a third-party IT services provider.

When There Is a Need for Role-Based Access to CRM

Sometimes Salesforce solutions are configured with the Roles and Permission feature in order to ensure compliance with strict security requirements in your organization. The result of this is that your different user groups get role-based access to your Salesforce data while it is also clearly defined what those users may be able to see and do within a Salesforce solution.

In a Nutshell

Salesforce Customisation is a highly efficient way to make your Salesforce CRM a helpful tool for sales and customer service as well as reducing the issues of poor user adoption. Salesforce Configuration is also a useful tool when it comes to modifying architecture of a CRM to best suit the needs of the user. Ultimately, customisation has decidedly more to offer vendors than configuration, which remains within a limited scope.

To make sure that you get the most out of your efforts without having to spend a lot, get input from your users, hire a CRM manager to lead the process, look for and engage a quality Salesforce customisation service provider, and rationalize and streamline your requirements from the customisation process. RT Labs is just the right Salesforce expert that can help achieve all of this and much more.

RT Labs, being an Official Salesforce Partner firm, is an expert provider of services including Salesforce Migration, Integration, Customisation, and Support. Get in touch with us now by filling out the Contact form. We will be glad to assist you!

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