What’s the Difference Between Salesforce Customization and Configuration?

Author
Jason Martin

Your CRM is at the heart of everything you do as a company. It’s the link between you, your customers, and your future customers. It houses all the information you need to establish and maintain an effective relationship with them.  

Salesforce has really capitalized here by allowing users to twist and mold their platform into a solution that is as robust and flexible as they need it to be.

The goal is to create a dynamic CRM solution that works for you, rather than an off-the-shelf solution that never gets used and creates more work than it’s worth (this is all too common…)

There are two paths for creating that dynamic Salesforce solution:

  1. Salesforce configuration (a must-have)
  2. and Salesforce customization (which offers the more desirable functionality).

It takes some work to get things dialed in, but once you do you’ll be set to benefit from all that the Salesforce has to offer.

What is the Difference Between Salesforce Customization and Configuration?

While the phrases are similar, they have different meanings (especially within the Salesforce community).

Salesforce configuration refers to everything you can do inside the system, without much custom code. A lot of this you can do yourself, but some experience with the platform definitely helps. Unless you’re a professional, you could see a great return from hiring a dedicated Salesforce administrator to help get things set up. These are admins know Salesforce like the back of their hand and can get it optimized in a fraction of the time it would take other administrators.

Customization, on the other hand, involves custom development and code to build powerful features that integrate with your business processes and objectives. Once again, you can take on the project in-house or outsource it to an expert Salesforce development team.

Examples of Salesforce Configuration

Salesforce configuration could include custom reports, adding fields and objects, setting permissions, creating profiles, permissions, etc.

But that’s just the boring stuff.

There are all kinds of cool things you can do with Salesforce configuration if you want to get creative with it. Here are some Salesforce configuration hacks:

  • Integrate your email client. Your team will work more out of their inbox than in Salesforce, so make it easy for them. There are all kinds of plugins, such as Cirrus Insight or ContactMonkey.
  • Data verification. Your sales/marketing teams will be empowered by clean, accurate data. This responsibility falls largely on whoever sets up the system, to ensure that data is captured and maintained correctly. There could be an entire post on this, but the best practice that should be top of mind is to constrain data input. That will do wonders for keeping things clean.
  • Gamification is all the rage these days. Why not use your CRM to create a fun, competitive environment? If you really want things to go smoothly in Salesforce, gamify the experience. Offer rewards for desired behaviors. If you configure the right reports, you can use the data to display results and drive competition.

All of this is pretty well documented at https://help.salesforce.com/home, but you may find it quicker to hire Salesforce Administrator who spends all their time working inside the system.

What Can You Customize In Salesforce?

If configuration can take you far, Salesforce customization can take you to the moon.

Seriously, we’ve been able to build some extraordinary things by applying our proven development process to customizing Salesforce.

Custom CRM development offers a strong ROI because it’s investing in the very thing that drives your business—leads and customers.

Adoption is critical with CRM systems. The more your sales team uses it, the better your solution becomes.  That’s why many businesses are wisely investing in custom Salesforce development—the better you can get things to work and feel, the more engaged your users/partners/customers will be with the platform.

So often, that’s what Salesforce customization is used for—to optimize the design and functionality so that the solution fits perfectly with your business.

Some examples of Salesforce customization are building custom partner portals, donation pages, lead capture forms—you name it. All it takes is a strong development process, understanding of the tools available for Salesforce development (Visualforce, Force.com development, etc.) and a vision of what you want to do.

In fact, we’ll offer up our ideas as well and get you started on the right path.

So Should I Configure or Customize Salesforce?

Configure as much as you can, then customize the rest.

Configuration will always come out a lot cheaper, and there are some pretty genius ways to configure your platform. Rule of thumb? Always look to configure before you spend the time and money for custom code.

That doesn’t mean you should shy away from custom Salesforce development—if you have a vision, go for it! There are opportunities for a massive ROI here.

We’ve been working with Salesforce from the start, so reach out if you would like to learn more about either configuration or customization. We’d love to offer up what we’ve learned.