Migrate Custom Apps To Force.com


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More and more, we see existing CRM users migrating to the cloud. Of course, that goes for their core CRM (sales, marketing, service) applications. But interestingly, we’re also seeing more organizations migrate their related, custom-developed applications to the cloud too.

What’s behind that move? For starters, when it comes to being pack rats, the worst offenders are large or even mid-size businesses. They typically have numerous custom applications, big and small. Some of these applications are company-wide. But most are specific to a particular department. They’re built using Microsoft Access, SQL Server, Lotus Notes, or who-knows-what. And while oftentimes essential, managing these custom creations can be a nuisance.

Custom Applications Have Carrying Costs

The custom application problem typically isn’t in their building, but their maintaining. For example, say that a lender wants to run credit checks on prospective customers, whenever sales submits a new customer’s lending request. So the credit department builds a small Microsoft Access database to track credit ratings.

Flash forward, several years: The application, having naturally grown, begins to suffer performance issues, or just stops working altogether. By then, its original developer has moved on. So the IT department gets called and asked if they can rescue the orphan application. And if they can’t, they typically get blamed for the problem anyway, even though IT may have never known this custom application existed.

4 Business Drivers For Force.com Migration

Accordingly, many organizations are now migrating their custom applications onto a PaaS environment — and for CRM applications, the most typical choice is Force.com — in pursuit of four specific upsides:

  • Maintenance. Keeping applications up to date on Force.com is must easier than if they’re onsite. Plus, you get much better visibility into which custom applications you have, and who’s using them (or not), not to mention better uptime and reliability.
  • Security. Custom application code typically hasn’t been fully vetted for security vulnerabilities. This puts one of the organization’s most valuable assets — customer data — at risk of being lost or stolen. Having Force.com handle the infrastructure instead, however, means benefiting from its improved security model.
  • Control. Another security upside is that Force.com adds data-control features, such as the ability to segregate access to sensitive data or custom applications on a per-user basis.
  • Cost. Maintaining custom applications on Force.com costs less than the ad hoc approach currently employed by most organizations.

Streamline Edge Applications

When it comes to customer data, most organizations still rely primarily on core sales, marketing, and customer service applications. But they also need “edge applications,” which are used to fill gaps in — and support — their existing CRM capabilities. Of course, not every employee needs to access these edge applications. But some people do, and that’s a great use case for Force.com.

For example, insurance companies maintain a strong separation between selling new accounts, providing customer service, and claims processing. As with the credit check example (above), the claims group typically isn’t customer-facing, however, but rather called on to provide needed information, during a customer interaction process.

But while many insurers use CRM to manage their interactions with customers, there’s no claims processing capability built directly into Salesforce.com, Oracle CRM On Demand, Microsoft CRM Dynamics, or Siebel. That’s not surprising, since the claims processing workflow is very different. But for organizations that manage their customer interaction using CRM, and rely on claims processing as one step in a customer-facing interaction, building a claims processing application on Force.com might be a very elegant approach.

Make Custom Apps Mobile And Social

Going the Force.com route one-ups traditional custom development thanks to the environment’s easy integration with mobile devices and social networks. (Have you ever tried to mobilize an Access database?) As a result, you can build many more types of applications, and deliver data and functionality to users — as well as customers — in many different ways, all while decreasing the time, cost, and insecurity associated with maintaining your own custom applications on the premises.

In other words, by using PaaS to run custom CRM-related apps, you can get not only lean and mean, but also mobile and social.

Learn More

Regardless of which applications you use, excelling at CRM requires ensuring that your program delivers targeted business goals. Review our list of the top 10 questions that any executive should be asking about their organization’s marketing, sales, or service program.

What’s the next, best step for your organization’s CRM program? To answer that question, take our CRM program quizzes, which are built using our benchmarks of the CRM practices of hundreds of companies. We’ve used those best practices to build Innoveer’s CRM Excellence Framework, which identifies where your current program excels — or needs work.

Post and thumbnail photos courtesy of Flickr user Brendan Lally.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Adam Honig
Adam is the Co-Founder and CEO of Spiro Technologies. He is a recognized thought-leader in sales process and effectiveness, and has previously co-founded three successful technology companies: Innoveer Solutions, C-Bridge, and Open Environment. He is best known for speaking at various conferences including Dreamforce, for pioneering the 'No Jerks' hiring model, and for flying his drone while traveling the world.


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