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Perspectives: Is Colocation Necessary for Salesforce Projects?


Generally colocation is perceived that having your Salesforce consultant team onsite will result in a higher quality set of deliverables or go to production faster. Project sponsors and leads can validate work in real time, and gain confidence that the project is moving forward in the direction that they envision. But is that really true? Can more value be obtained remotely?

The factors that both the consulting firm and the client must consider when first scoping a Salesforce project are:

  • Timeline – What are the hard and fast dates where the project must be completed?
  • Scope of work – How significant is the functionality that needs to be built within the identified timeline?
  • In-House experience – Is there a dedicated Salesforce Administrator or developer on-premise?

Based upon the analysis of these factors, a full-time, onsite set of resources may be desired. However, how dedicated is your staff? Most companies do not have the luxury of allowing their staff to pause their daily tasks for several weeks or months to focus on a Salesforce rollout. The only way that colocation makes sense is if the consulting team and the client team can carve out space and sit together for the duration of the project. If the client team is busy most of the day with their normal job, there is not enough project focused work to keep the consulting team busy. 

Colocation can be very expensive. A minimum of three consulting resources will be dedicated 40 hours per week each. Do the benefits of the final rollout justify the extra costs?

Remote resources are not exclusively dedicated to you. They’re usually onsite at the beginning of the project to discover requirements and suggest solutions. They are also onsite for testing and training. But many consultants produce better solutions and design documentation when they can go to into their comfort zone and write.

The same can be said for the build. Consultants can build and research without the added pressure of the client sponsor or client leads looking over their shoulder. Frequent review sessions will ensure that progress is communicated.

Lastly, the client needs to build trust with their consultants. The consultant is being trusted with a significant amount of money and needs to turn that into a quality deliverable. They should not require constant supervision, and if they do, are they really who you want to be working with?

Functional Remote Teams

A functional remote team has a lot of benefits to both parties. Consultants can:

  • Work additional projects and minimize bench time
  • Access resources available in company offices by not being restricted to a single location
  • Minimize travel time to only that which is necessary
  • Maintain a family and personal life outside of work

The client benefits by:

  • Minimizing costs
  • Project teams can continue to hold down their “day job”
  • Focus project work to specified times to be productive

Remote teams still need some in-person meetings.  The types of meetings that are important to have in-person are:

  • Discovery sessions
  • User Acceptance Testing
  • Training

Outside of those meetings, remote teams need the following standard meetings:

  • Weekly status meetings – To communicate budget and timeline adherence, and any other issues that may be arising
  • Internal Updates – Usually the consultant team is remote from each other. They need a weekly meeting to review progress, challenges, and to work through issues
  • Client updates – To communicate progress and challenges

Outside of those standing meetings, remote teams need to be responsive to email and phone calls.  Both the client and the consultant need to project the image that the team progress is of utmost importance and that everything will be dropped when the call comes in.

By adhering to these principles, a remote experience can be even better than an in-person team.

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Shawn Jensen

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