Getting a Handle on Native vs. Non-Native on Salesforce

June 1, 2015 Steven Jones

Note: Steven Jones is presenting at the upcoming Webinar: Finding the Right AppExchange Solutions for Your Business, this Wednesday, June 3 at 9 am PDT.

As VP of product development at SpringCM, I’ve learned that no matter how similar two customers, products, or use cases may appear, they are almost always contain some different principles and processes. These differences are what make companies unique, and in a lot of cases — successful. But having your own identity, especially when dealing with business process, can lead to what feels like insurmountable hurdles when you’re looking for the right application to fit with your current operational model.

Pros of Non-Native

The beauty of a non-native Salesforce app is that it doesn’t discriminate — it accommodates.

You’d be hard pressed to argue that Salesforce.com doesn’t provide an incredibly powerful platform for business users and vendors alike, but with the emergence of competing CRM platforms in the last few years, the game is changing – and being non-native allows organizations to keep playing. This means that hosting and supporting a solution creates an opportunity to not only reach customers integrated with Salesforce, but customers who are built on top of other environments as well.

Often times, if a company is large enough, their operational processes can differ from location to location or even internally by department – creating a collaboration nightmare when it comes time to work together. Having non-native flexibility can work wonders for adhering to a company-wide standard, allowing the ‘Salesforce heavy’ sales team in Chicago to work seamlessly with the finance department in New York. This level of collaboration can exist between vendors and partners as well. It isn’t uncommon to see representatives from a handful of different companies share the same utility as a part of their contribution to a project.

Cons of Non-Native

As adaptable and convenient as a non-native platform can be, it’s still software — and with all software comes an inevitable array of usability issues, ‘missing features’ and bugs. It’s the nature of the beast, and it’s also the perfect segue into my favorite aspect of the non-native integrated software platform: support!

Support with Non-Native

One huge benefit of a non-native app is that its reliability isn’t fully dependent on the uptime of Salesforce. With that in mind, platform independence comes with a responsibility to establish this reliability on your own; something most successful integrated platforms do well.

This lessens the likelihood of a customer taking on the role of ‘hot potato’ as vendors pass the blame back and forth, only to wind up with an inconclusive answer. The only direction a non-native integrated software can point its proverbial ‘finger’ is towards itself. A tight-knit non-native support team eats, sleeps, and breathes their own platform and can handle just about anything thrown their way. This means quicker response times, more frequent updates and timely resolutions.

Pros of Native

Salesforce has built an industry-leading platform which allows its customers to leverage some of the infrastructure that supports their CRM application. Developers tend to like using the force.com platform because it allows them to get their applications to market faster. The platform reduces coding time and infrastructure overhead, and allows the development team to focus on true feature development.

Native applications can leverage the security and familiarity that Salesforce has built and continues to support for their large customer base. Additionally, with their market share most IT organizations are familiar with the platform and the security model.

Cons of Native

Licensing can be an obstacle for non-CRM users (legal is one good example) or potentially channel partners on a different CRM platform. While they offer reduced licenses for force.com only users, this creates a significant cost to leverage a very specific use case. Additionally, you are tied to this platform for the life of your use. If cost starts to outweigh the benefits, it’s very difficult to migrate off the platform.

Native applications are subject to the release schedule and priorities of Salesforce. They are constantly innovating the Salesforce platform, but that may or may not align with what your app’s priorities might be. Do you want to wait two years for a necessary feature to make it to their product roadmap?

Many successful applications have built on their own platform and leveraged the strong integration capabilities of the Salesforce platform to create a seamless interface for the Salesforce.com user community.

If you are a company that lives in Salesforce, you will undoubtedly find a solution that fits your needs. Whether it’s a solution that was primarily built as a Salesforce application or a non-native solution that has been integrated into the Salesforce ecosystem, you’re going to come across a plethora of great utilities that will fit your business model. But if you’re looking for a cohesive, scalable solution that reaches beyond the scope of Salesforce, a well-rounded, non-native app should provide a nice fit.

To learn more about native vs. non-native and other tips for evaluating Salesforce AppExchange solutions, sign-up for the complimentary webinar: Finding the Right AppExchange Solutions for Your Business, this Wednesday, June 3 at 9 am PDT with SpringCM, PROS, and Xactly.

This article was originally posted on the SpringCM Blog.

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