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How to decide between Salesforce clicks and code?

“Clicks — not code” is one of’s catchy phrases. It drives home the message that you can do a lot with to deliver rich functionality before resorting to custom development. But many people (from companies and implementation firms alike) are still unaware of when best to use custom development and when best to use clicks using

So — how can you tell when each may be appropriate?

What drives the decision to use “clicks” vs. “code?”

Our experience working with customers over the past 6 years using both options extensively highlights what to consider. In ranked order:

  1. Who will support the code on an ongoing basis?
  2. What is the ROI versus using native features?
  3. How much will it cost?
Numbers 1 and 2 are discussed more often than expense and time, as custom development’s long term cost of ownership can be larger than the initial development cost. Furthermore, not all companies are equipped to handle ongoing maintenance, nor do they even want to. Interestingly, company size is not a major factor contributing to the decision. Case in point:
  • One of our clients (a large public company with over $1B in revenue) gave this directive during implementation: “If we cannot accomplish it natively, we will change our business process.”
  • Another one of our clients (a small private company of about $30m in revenue) developed thousands of lines of code because they wanted to get the best possible technology fit with their business processes.
How do you decide when custom development is best?
  1. Understand the full product’s native capabilities. Have you exhausted all native options? Don’t rush to code just because you can.
  2. Be open to tweaking business processes to use native functionality.
  3. Weigh what you get (automation, cool user interface, etc.) in the business context of how important the business process is and how often it is used.
  4. Think about who will support the work post-deployment.
  5. Consider working with an implementation partner like Perficient who has the product knowledge, development experience, and insight into the product roadmap to utilize what’s available now and know what’s coming down the pike.
Over the coming months I will present interesting examples of client development projects ranging from pure custom development to enhancement of native platform features. You’ll see from these examples that Perficient leverages the platform to its fullest and exhausts all reasonable native features before resorting to custom development, saving clients expense and time in the short term and headaches in the long term. While many of our employees are certified developers, it is our customers’ needs, budgets, and operating models that ultimately determine the path we use.

Thoughts on “How to decide between Salesforce clicks and code?”

  1. Good article and enjoyed the presentation of two markedly different company decisions as to use of custom versus standard functionality. It definitely always comes to mind to build into business applications standard functionality first but consideration of who is to maintain the code once you’ve left the customer a great point.

    I’ll be reviewing more of your articles, and thanks.

    Chris Frei

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Andrew ODriscoll

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