Kevin Houk
Aug 11, 2017

There are two types of Salesforce consultants: Product Development Organizations (PDO) and Systems Integrators (SI). At the highest level, PDOs have particular expertise in building commercial apps while SIs are more service experts that implement and configure Salesforce Clouds to best meet an organization’s needs. Let’s take a look at the nuanced differences between the two with regard to the Salesforce ecosystem, design considerations, and technical focus.

Salesforce Ecosystem

  • An SI understands the commercial pricing of Salesforce for end customers while a PDO understands the business models available for Independent Software Vendors (ISV) partners.
  • The Salesforce commercial team is 14,000 AEs worldwide while the ISV team is just 140 people worldwide. SIs have relationships across the larger commercial team, and PDOs have relationships within the more specialized ISV team.
  • Only PDOs have intimate familiarity with the deal package and approval process for ISV apps and can help get your product across the finish line.
  • PDOs can assist in go to market strategy and are fluent in the specific marketing opportunities available for AppExchange Apps.
  • The best PDOs have experience with scores of products going to market in the Salesforce Ecosystem and understand the differences between Product Management in general and Product Management for Salesforce apps.
  • Product Management starts with Product Strategy. PDOs have an inside view of product strategies that have been spectacularly successful in the ecosystem and those that have spectacularly failed. They can help you chart your course to fulfilling your vision.

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Design Considerations

  • An SI builds a solution for a business process where management can enforce that users must use it. A PDO is challenged to build an engaging solution that end users choose to pay for - these are products!
  • PDOs must perpetually stay abreast of all new functionality available on the Salesforce platform to ensure that products are compatible and functional in any Org.
  • When an SI designs a sharing and permissions model or an integration, it only has to be maintained in one Org. Minor configuration tasks in an SI project can be significant barriers to sales and adoption if included in your Salesforce app. PDOs have experience with the patterns and interfaces that mitigate as many of those challenges as possible to support adoption and easy integration of your products by customers.

Technical Focus

  • All ISV work must be submitted for Security Review by the Trust team while none of the work from the SI is reviewed.
  • An SI has full visibility of the Org where they are building their solution (data model, triggers, workflows, users, etc.) while the solution a PDO is building has to be able to install into any Org.
  • An SI project generally has a distinct beginning and end of development. However, a PDO product has a very definite beginning, but development will continue for the entire lifetime of the product.
  • An SI understands how to support their solution in a single Org while a PDO must be able to support a product installed in thousands of different Orgs.
  • PDOs are knowledgeable with the Business Org and each of the managed packages that must be installed. (CMA, LMA, COA, FMA - oh my!)
  • There are limitation for what can be included in a Managed Package (ie - your product). While an SI is familiar with all of the functionality that can be configured in Salesforce, a PDO has the added expertise in what can actually be packaged and work arounds for functionality that cannot.
  • The Security Review process is hard enough. Designing security patterns that not only pass review, but also don't limit business requirements, are scalable, and will work with the multitudes of unknown Org configurations used by your target customers is a skill that only comes with having been-there-and-done-that, over and over, as a PDO. 

Final Thoughts

Founded in 2008, CodeScience was one of the first PDOs for Salesforce focusing on building products on the Salesforce platform, and now the first to receive the PDO Masters designation from Salesforce. We’ve brought more than 220 products to market on the AppExchange and we’re just getting started. 

If you are seeking a PDO to get you to market or solve issues that are taking away from the success of your product, look no further. We are formally recognized as providing the highest level of expertise with Salesforce solutions, including a demonstrated history of customer success. We help SaaS businesses thrive on the AppExchange. Let's talk!

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