by Dustin LeBlanc
Web development is about a lot more than writing code. Here at Singlebrook we may dream in backbone.js, eat Ruby gems for breakfast, and fantasize about SASS; but at the end of the day we recognize our main purpose:
Evaluate the business need and the desired user experience; then choose the best path to fulfill it. All other considerations are secondary.
As part of our Agile development philosophy we continually do this over the course of a project.
We love code; and spend plenty of hours each week immersed in writing it. In the end, we understand that this is only one part of the software development cycle. Today I want to look at an integral part of the that cycle:
Choices made about which technology platforms to leverage and which 3rd party software to interface with can have a huge potential impact on the cost of a project, both upfront, and long term.
These decisions also have a major impact on the flexibility of the project, the potential performance of the application, and potential maintenance costs of the project long term. Proper planning in regards to technology implementation is a critical part of the software development cycle.
Force.com vs Salesforce
When it comes to choosing a CRM, Salesforce is a popular technology partner for many businesses. The functionality they have built into their ecosystem is incredibly robust and extensible.
Many large scale businesses can leverage their pre-built cloud based platform and this is a sensible business choice for them. Due to the scale of their operations, the cost of a full Salesforce license is modest compared to the functionality it provides their business.
Not every organization has a need for the full suite of tools that Salesforce provides as a part of their flagship subscription package. Fortunately for those type of projects, Salesforce offers a stripped down version of their platform called Force.com and the licensing is significantly less expensive.
In a recent project our team ran accross this exact scenario; our client had requirements for a very basic CRM system to assist them with tracking contacts and event attendance. They specifically desired something that was simple to use and to keep the costs down on the project.
Singlebrook decided to utilize the Salesforce platform for this project. As we began to unpack the requirements of the system, it became clear that the standard Salesforce license ($135/user/month) would:
a. Increase the complexity of the system
b. Add additional and unnecessary cost to the project
We opted instead for the leaner Force.com license for this project. The cost is significantly lower ($25/user/month), and the features were more in-line with the project requirements. Not only did we save the client $1320 every year in wasted licensing costs, but this decision also means that development costs will be lower overall, and that the application will more closely match the user requirements right out of the gate.
As part of our process for development, Singlebrook is concerned primarily with the business needs of our client. Don't get me wrong, we geek out about the latest technology with the best of them and we absolutely love getting deep into code; however we understand that the most important things about a project are the business needs of the client and the experience of the user. Applications don't exist to simply look pretty and sit on a cloud all day; there is a reason for their existence and our primary focus is on delivering that functionality and providing the technology tools our clients need to pursue their objectives.